Buy Your First Home

First Time Buyers

A Guide

First Time Home Buyer? Start Here!

Buying a home can seem like a daunting process, but it doesn't have to be! As your local Northeast Connecticut real estate expert, I'm happy to act as your best resource for navigating the process of home buying. Read through this page for my expert advice on obtaining a mortgage, finding the perfect home, and making an offer. 

If you ever have any questions about buying a home in the Mansfield area, please give us a call at (860) 428-9827.


Find Your New Home

 The first step in buying a home, is finding the perfect property for you, and the beautiful Mansfield area has something to offer everyone and all budgets! Find not only your dream home, but achieve your dream lifestyle in Mansfield or in its surrounding communities. Explore the best that Connecticut has to offer with these area guides below.

Local Area Guides


Money in a jar next to three stacks of coins.

Step 1:Understanding Your Mortgage

The first step in the home buying process is usually obtaining a mortgage. Most buyers need one, and there are a wide variety of options available to help you finance your dream home. Understanding what you're agreeing to when signing a mortgage is key for getting the most bang for you buck, and as a real estate expert I have years of experience helping my clients explore what option is best for them. Below I've broken down the most common types of mortgages, and the advantages of each.

Types of Mortgages

There are four basic types of mortgages used by the majority of home buyers.

Conventional Mortgage:

This is the standard loan used by buyers with good to excellent credit who make down payments of at least 10%. However, there are programs that offer options for lower down payments based on buyer credit and location.

FHA Mortgage:

These loans often apply to buyers with lower credit scores, as they offer a down payment as low as 3.5% and lower interest rates. However, FHA mortgages do also require mortgage insurance premiums, which can result in higher overall costs.

VA Mortgage:

All veterans and active military members qualify for VA loans. These offer up to 100% financing, simplified loan approvals, and lower interest rates. They can be much lower than conventional loans.

USDA Mortgage:

These loans are available to buyers in rural or low-density areas and offer up to 100% financing and below-market interest rates. Their ideal buyers are of average means, have lower credit scores, and are buying modest homes. Additionally, because of the government's loose definition of the term "rural," some of the buyers in the smaller communities surrounding Northeast Connecticut will qualify for this loan.

What Do Mortgages Include?

There are four main components to a mortgage payment, often abbreviated as "PITI."

Principal:

This is the repayment of the initial amount you borrowed from your lender (in other words, the price of your home).

Interest:

This is a payment to the lender for the money borrowed (and is then added on to the initial price of your home).

Taxes:

Your annual city and county taxes assessed on your property are divided by the number of mortgage payments you make in a year and added into your mortgage.

Insurance:

Your monthly homeowner's insurance payment covers you against various hazards and is added to your mortgage payment.

Going Loan Shopping and Understanding Your Options

Before you decide on any particular loan or lender, it's important to do your research. That means meeting with AT LEAST two different lenders to ensure that you're getting the best rate possible.  There are also two types of interest rates offered my mortgage lenders that are very important to understand:

Fixed-Rate Mortgage:

The interest on a Fixed-Rate Mortgage will NOT change, so your monthly payments won't change, making them very predictable and easy to budget for.

Adjustable-Rate Mortgage:

The interest rate on an Adjustable-Rate Mortgage will often be lower initially, but as interest rates do fluctuate with the market, they can be somewhat unpredictable or even result in higher payments, making them difficult to pin down an exact budget for.


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What Makes Your Dream Home?

The most exciting part of the home buying process, is well, actually finding your dream home! But how do you decide what you want versus what you actually need? Before touring any homes sit down and make a list of features you do not want to compromise on- whether that be location, price, or number of bedrooms. After that initial deal-breaker list is made, go back and add a wish list of exterior and interior amenities you would ideally have in your dream home. This will help both you and your real estate agent determine good listings for you to view without wasting time.

Tip: Before you start seeing homes, find out the actual selling price of homes in your selected location and neighborhoods - not just their listing price - in order to get a more accurate idea of the affordability your ideal location.

Making an Offer

Once you find the perfect home, it's time to make an offer! Your real estate agent should be able to help you decide on a realistic and competitive offer that will set you apart from competing homebuyers, but still be affordable for you. It's important to always stick to offers that can work realistically within your budget to avoid future financial issues.

What Will I Pay Upfront?

Earnest money:

Earnest money essentially acts as a security deposit. It's paid when you submit your offer to show the seller that you are serious. When your offer is accepted, it is applied to your down payment or closing costs.

Down Payment:

This is determined by your loan, or possibly any government programs or assistance you have requested.

Closing Costs:

These are typically low for buyers and represent the fees associated with paperwork and lender charges.

Requesting a Home Inspection

If the seller accepts your offer, it's time for a home inspection. Before you close, you'll want to have an experienced professional walk the house to ensure that there aren't any lingering problems or maintenance issues that might not be visible to the unexperienced eye.  This helps avoid any major maintenance or structural issues immediately after moving in. If the inspector does find a problem, you can request that the seller repair any issues you find as part of closing.

Closing

If the inspector clears the property, it's time to sign the paperwork, make final negotiations and payments, and get the keys to your new home! Here are the final steps you need to take before you're officially a home owner:

Review Your Contract

Before you sign any paperwork, it's important that you carefully read over the contract with your trusted real estate agent or lawyer to ensure there are contingencies. Contingencies are for your protection and essentially state that if something falls through with your mortgage, you aren't still obligated to buy the home.

Finalize Your Mortgage

Work with your chosen lender to submit your mortgage application, have your home appraised, and review predicted closing costs. There are many costs commonly associated with closing, including attorney fees, title insurance, appraisal fees, home inspection fees, courier fees, government recording fees, and taxes.

Pay, Close, and Get Keys!

It's time to close! Meet with your agent, lender, and the seller to finalize the paperwork, sign your contracts, and pay your down payment and closing costs. Finally - the keys to your new home!

Additional Home Buying Resources


Finding a Real Estate Agent in Northeast Connecticut

While there's no law that says you have to use a real estate agent, agents are there to protect your best interests, and it is highly recommended that you use one. Especially for first time home buyers, the years of experience and knowledge a good agent can provide is invaluable to the process. Avoid costly fees, repairs, and other future issues by using an agent from the get-go.

Still Have Questions About Buying Your First Home in Northeast Connecticut?

That's okay! Buying a home is an extremely complicated process, with lots of moving parts. With years of experience in the Northeast Connecticut market, I'm happy to answer any questions you may have left. Contact me or my team today and ask away! 

Questions? Just Ask!