7 lessons learned by first-time homebuyers

When you’re at the beginning of the homebuying journey, chances are you’ll have many questions. Will you need a lot of money? Does your credit have to be in tip-top shape? No one knows more about what you should expect than those who have gone through the journey before you. Read on for advice for first-time homebuyers from those who have completed a successful homebuying journey of their own.

Lesson 1: It’s never too early to become a first-time homebuyer

There is no perfect age to become a first-time homebuyer. While some think of homeownership as a sign of settling down, Kevin started on the road to homeownership when he was 23. One of his biggest obstacles: He had not built up a sufficient credit history to secure a loan. To remedy the situation, Kevin applied for a couple of credit cards, used them to make purchases and paid the bills on time. Those actions showed potential lenders that he was a responsible borrower. Once he had established that credit history, Kevin was ready to try for homeownership again, and he connected with his Homeownership Advisor at HomeFree-USA. Today Kevin is a homeowner and he is proud that he did it on his own — and while he is still single. “I didn’t even tell my parents until after the fact because I wanted to do it for myself,” he said.

Lesson 2: You don’t need a lot of money

As a recent college graduate, Roshan didn’t think he had enough money to successfully buy his first home. He soon learned that he was wrong. HomeFree-USA taught Roshan about programs that would reduce the amount of cash he needed to come up with for a downpayment and closing costs. In fact, he didn’t spend more than $1,000 on closing costs thanks to the assistance he received. “There’s a myth around the community that to buy a home you have to put down a lot of money, but that’s not true,” he said. Stefany learned that lesson first hand. When she bought her first home, she qualified for $39,000 in downpayment assistance and closing cost help, which meant “I only had to put up $3,500 of my own money,” she said.

Lesson 3: You don’t need perfect credit.

When Hawa started thinking about buying a house, she wasn’t sure she would be successful. “I just knew that my credit was shot, and I didn’t know where to start,” she said. “I knew I needed guidance.” However, her Homeownership Advisor gave her suggestions on ways to improve her credit and even identified a mistake on her credit report that was negatively impacting her score and helped her reach out to the credit bureaus to get it corrected. Today, Hawa is living her best life in a home of her own.

Lesson 4: It pays to dream big.

If you believe you can be a homeowner, you can achieve that reality. Sharron realized that truth after putting an image of her dream house on her vision board. She wanted three bedrooms, one and a half bathrooms, her own yard and no homeowner’s association fees. With the help of HomeFree-USA, Sharron adjusted her budget, improved her credit and stuck to her homebuying plan. After crossing the house off her vision board because she had made it a reality, she acknowledged that God gave her a vision and HomeFree-USA helped to bring it to fruition.

Lesson 5: A homebuyer’s class can save you money.

Mindy wanted to buy a house, but she wanted to spend as little of her own money as possible. So she did her research to find out what steps she should take to minimize her costs. In the process, Mindy learned that she could qualify for downpayment assistance if she received eight hours of pre-purchase education counseling. She took that advice to heart and sought a homeownership organization that would provide it. That’s how she connected with HomeFree-USA, and she signed up for classes HomeFree-USA offered. In addition to qualifying for downpayment assistance, she received guidance and advice to help her move through every part of the homebuying process. “Owning my own home was something that I had always wanted to do and dreamed of,” she said.

Lesson 6: Guidance can make the homebuying process less stressful.

There’s no two ways to put it: buying a home can be overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be, particularly when you have guidance along the way. Christi, a first-time homebuyer, said she liked to always be in control, but she didn’t know enough about the homebuying process to do it on her own. HomeFree-USA connected Christi with her lender and other mortgage professionals she could

trust. “It would always calm my nerves to know I didn’t just randomly find this person,” she said. Since HomeFree-USA could vouch for them, “I knew they were not charlatans that were going to disappear off the face of the earth.”

Lesson 7: Patience and information can make all the difference.

Jaren and Devon started to get discouraged during their home search. They had so many choices to make, such as finding the right lender and choosing the right home. Then they connected with HomeFree-USA. “It was great to have someone explain the homebuying process,” Devon said. “Especially things we didn’t understand.” Their Homeownership Advisor even referred them to some new lending partners and introduced them to programs that help renters prepare financially through better loan options and downpayment assistance. Today, the couple is proud to have achieved the goal of homeownership. Devon’s advice to future homeowners: “Be informed and do not make a quick decision,” she said. “Get all the information you need so you know what you are doing.”