financial planning for buying a house

A Guide to Financial Planning for Buying a House

Buying a new home is an exciting time, but it’s also a potentially stressful endeavor for buyers and sellers alike. Being fully prepared could make the process smoother, helping you settle down in that new home much sooner.

Are you looking at homes in Arizona or California? Altitude Home Loans is one of the best mortgage lenders in Tucson, Arizona, and beyond. When it comes to financial planning for buying a house in this area, our specialists have the guidance you need for a fast closing, including a few vital steps discussed below.

Monitoring Your Credit Score Pays For Itself

Why look into boosting your credit score? A higher score is always beneficial, particularly when buying a house. Credit scores determine your options for interest rates, so maximizing it pays dividends.

Take a careful look at your spending habits and develop a plan for improving your score by establishing a budget and cutting unnecessary costs. The higher you get your credit score, the lower your mortgage’s interest rate should be.

Saving For a Down Payment Opens Up Your Home-Buying Options

Having a hefty down payment widens your mortgage options considerably. Typically, a down payment of at least 20% will help you avoid needing private mortgage insurance. PMI keeps the mortgage company safe if you default on your loan, but it costs anywhere from 0.05% to 1% of your total loan (until your equity reaches 20%), which is a major cost.

Gathering All the Necessary Paperwork Saves Time

Buying a home always involves a stack of paperwork. Having it all ready long before starting the process makes the entire process less stressful. 

Gather the following documentation as a start:

  • Two recent state and federal tax returns
  • Two months of pay stubs
  • Two months of bank statements
  • A list of all current debts

Once you’ve got all the necessary paperwork, create an organized file so that you’re ready for your mortgage lender.

Considering All the Expenses Unburdens Decision-Making

Another step during financial planning for buying a house is adequately considering your future commitments. Owning a home comes with a long list of expenses, from the initial closing costs to yearly property taxes and maintenance.

One solution would be to establish a savings account for ongoing expenses and another one for emergency home-related expenses to ease the burden of these costs long-term.

Getting Pre-Qualification or Pre-Approval Accelerates Things

Pre-qualification is a fast process that gives you an estimate of the home you can afford. The process uses self-reported income, debts, and a mortgage calculator for a realistic idea of your price range.

Note that pre-approval is a separate process. Your lender reviews verifiable financial documents before determining how much they’re willing to give you. Having the paperwork ready that we mentioned earlier helps.

Financial Planning Assistance with Altitude Home Loans—Arizona

If you’re buying a house in the Tucson area, Altitude Home Loans make it a smooth, speedy transaction for you. Financial planning for buying a house is easier with proven mortgage process steps and experts on hand. So, get into the home of your dreams—call 520-500-1010 today.

deed of reconveyance

Short Sale vs. Foreclosure: A Home Buyer’s Guide

If you’re looking for cheap housing, you may have seen terms like “short sale” and “foreclosure.” These terms describe different types of distressed property. They’re both affordable, but they come with drawbacks to keep in mind.

Altitude Home Loans is your go-to for home purchasing services in Tucson, AZ. The short sale vs. foreclosure topic can be confusing, so we’re here to answer all your questions. Call us at 520-500-1010 for more information.

Short Sale

Many people have heard of foreclosure, but short sales are more obscure. A short sale is a voluntary sale process between owners and lenders. A short sale occurs when a homeowner can’t keep up with their mortgage payments and needs to sell their house for less than it’s worth.

All proceeds from the sale go to the lender. The lender might forgive the difference on the loan or charge the original owner to pay for the remainder. Although it won’t tank the original owner’s credit score, a short sale does impact the homeowner’s credit.

Foreclosures are a last resort that can hurt lenders and owners alike. Short sales are more forgiving on owners and lenders. In addition to reducing financial risk, short sales offer an affordable property for buyers. 

Short Sale Pros and Cons for Home Buyers


  • Short sale homes are usually in better shape than foreclosed properties.
  • These homes are relatively cheap.
  • There’s less competition.


  • The sale is more likely to fall through.
  • Buyers must negotiate with lenders, owners, and realtors.
  • It can take a long time to finalize a sale.


A foreclosure occurs when a homeowner stops paying their mortgage. In many cases, they also abandon their homes. During a foreclosure, the lender seizes control of the property and tries to recoup the money they lost.

Lenders drastically drop the sale price so they can sell these homes as fast as possible, which is ideal for buyers. Realtors can help you find foreclosed homes, and these properties are occasionally sold at public auctions.

Foreclosure Pros and Cons for Home Buyers


  • Foreclosure creates extremely cheap homes.
  • It’s a fast, low-effort buying process.
  • All previous liens are removed from the home title.


  • Foreclosed homes are usually in poor condition, and inspections may not be possible.
  • Although they are cheaper overall, there’s a large up-front investment for purchase and repairs.
  • Lenders usually prefer cash payment.

Short Sale vs. Foreclosure: Which is Better?

A short sale is better if you need a property that’s in decent condition. These homes are affordable, but they’re also harder to lock down. They’re generally a better investment for long-term homeowners.

Foreclosed properties are usually in bad shape but are quite easy and affordable to buy. These homes are great for flippers and anyone looking for a quick investment opportunity. 

Learn More About the Housing Market

If you want to transfer taxes on a mortgage or learn more about short sales, Altitude Home Loans is here to help. Call us at 520-500-1010 to find the perfect home near you. 

Mortgage Process

Mortgage Process Steps

Approved Loan

The mortgage industry is a significant part of the US economy and is one of the biggest in the world. The mortgage rates are at an all-time low of 3.08% as of March 2021, spurring many home buyers. However, the mortgage process is quite daunting, especially for a first-time buyer. It is not always that you enter into debt with that many zeros.

A proper understanding of the mortgage loan process increases the chances of approval. Not only that, but it also helps you ask the right question. The process follows the following distinct steps including:

  • Budget Estimation
  • Pre-approval
  • House Hunting
  • Mortgage Application
  • Underwriting
  • Closing

In this article, we take you through the mortgage loan process in detail from budgeting to closing.

The Process of Getting a Mortgage

A mortgage is a type of loan used to finance a property, the latter being the collateral. It is generally a secured loan where the lender holds your property in collateral until the loan is paid in full.

The mortgage process itself starts with the borrowers applying with one or more lenders. The latter requires proof of the borrower’s repaying capability, including bank statements, tax returns, and employment proof. Furthermore, the lender will also run a credit check as a part of the loan approval process.

Once the loan is approved, the lender offers a preapproved amount at a specific interest rate. Buyers also have the option of applying for the loan before buying a home called preapproval. This gives you an edge in a tight property market.

Once the buyer, seller, and the lender agree, they come together for a closing meeting. At this point, the buyer makes the down payment to the mortgage lender. The seller then transfers the ownership to the buyer and receives the purchase price.

What Is the First Step in Getting a Mortgage?

The first step in any mortgage process is research. As with any significant financial decision, take time out to research the market. First, list the properties and the neighborhoods you like, followed by the asking prices. Next, see how long the houses stay in the market. This gives you an idea about the housing trend of the region.

Furthermore, take time to understand the process and the steps involved. That way, you know what to expect and get everything ready from your end.

15 Steps of a Mortgage Loan Process

Buying a new home is a big step yet exciting phase for everyone involved. However, the all too important mortgage can be overwhelming. Understanding the process and the technicalities can help you make the right decisions. Moreover, it also helps you to stay organized and be in control.

1. Prepare Your Budget

It is safer to kick off the mortgage loan process with a budget estimation. In many ways, that helps you to set realistic expectations not only with the house but also the mortgage.

Your purchase price should be three to five times the annual household income as a rule of thumb. This excludes the 20% down payment. Also, take into consideration your debt and financial situation.

Alternatively, you can also calculate the maximum monthly mortgage payment you can afford. Then work backward towards the maximum house price you can afford. According to the US Census Bureau’s 2019 American Housing Survey, the median monthly mortgage payment is $1200.

The mortgage payments include the principal, interest, and the homeowner’s insurance. When you focus on the monthly payment, your budget will account for all the ongoing costs.

2. Get Your Finances in Order

Mortgage Process - Get Your Finances in Order

With the budget ready, assess your finances to see if you are ready to buy a new house? Have you saved enough for a down payment and closing costs? What about your debts? And get ready to have your financials probed.

Buying a home is the most significant financial investment of your lifetime. So, it’s no wonder your lender goes through your financials with a fine-toothed comb. They are wary of substantial debts like student loans and car loans. If you are laden with debt, you may want to take a step back and improve your financial health.

Another point to note is the credit score. Lenders scrutinize your credit history for any cases of discrepancies. The minimum credit score requirement for home loans ranges between 580-620. A higher credit score warrants a better interest rate.

To improve your credit score:

  • Pay outstanding debts
  • Do not open new accounts
  • Avoid too many credit inquiries
  • Dispute errors in your credit report (if possible)

The final point to note is the debt to income ratio. It is a measure of your debt (credit card, car loan, personal loan, and student loan) and your income. A low debt to income ratio increases your chances of loan approval.

3. Choose the Right Mortgage

Have you decided what kind of mortgage you are looking for? Remember, the interest rate also depends on the mortgage that you choose. Moreover, the eligibility criteria also vary depending on the loan.

There are four major loan programs:

VA Loan – Backed by the Department of Veterans Affairs, VA loans are available only for veterans or active service members.

FHA Loan – Insured by the Federal Housing Administration, this loan has a low credit score minimum.

USDA Loan – Backed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the USDA loans are suitable for lower-income borrowers.

Conventional Loan – The government does not insure conventional loans. And hence have strict eligibility criteria. They are suitable for people with solid credit.

Of the above-mentioned loan programs, the mortgage rates for the VA loans are often the lowest.

4. Down Payment

Coming to down payments, VA loans and USDA loans do not need any down payment. Furthermore, FHA loans require a 3.5% down payment and conventional loans 3%. However, they will incur mortgage insurance. With a larger down payment of, say, 20%, you can avoid mortgage insurance. The issue with low or no down payments is that you’ll have to pay private mortgage insurance, which reflects on the monthly payments.

5. Research Mortgage Lenders

From traditional banks to credit unions and online lenders, you have many options. Your choice of mortgage lender depends on the mortgage that you choose. For example, if you choose a VA mortgage, the lender works with military/veteran borrowers.

You may want to consider:

  • The lender’s minimum qualifications should align with that your requirements.
  • Do the interest rates include points? Points are paid fees upfront to reduce the interest.
  • How do you want to communicate with the lender? If you do not care about an in-person service, you can go for an online service as well.
  • Does the lender provide financial services such as down payment assistance?

It is wise to get pre-approved by three mortgage lenders. That way, you can compare the interest rates and choose the one that saves you money. Even a .5% difference in rates can save you thousands of dollars in the loan duration.

6. Get a Mortgage Pre-Approval

Mortgage Pre-Approval Stamp

A mortgage pre-approval ensures that you have a smooth buying experience. It shows the real estate agent and the seller that you are ready and equipped to buy. Moreover, it gives you an upper hand over the other buyers since you already qualify for a home loan.

Preapprovals are generally a letter from the mortgage lender containing the approved amount. This is based on your savings, credit score, and current income. The lender may also look at your income and asset documentation. Preapproval letters are easy to get provided you prove your eligibility.

Another critical point to remember is that pre-qualification is not pre-approval. The former is a measure of the borrower’s ability to get a mortgage loan. It requires no verification or credit check. On the other hand, the latter means that you are qualified for a loan.

7. Prepare Your Documents

Before the pre-approval, you need to get your documents ready. Gathering the documents ahead reduces the stress, letting you concentrate on house hunting. Then, when the time comes, hand the documents over to the loan officer.

The loan officer will create a loan file with the necessary documentation. The first of which is the mortgage application and credit report. Here are some of the documents you need to have in hand:

  • W2-forms (two years)
  • Pay stubs (30 days)
  • Federal tax returns (2 years)
  • Other sources of income
  • Recent bank statements (2 months)
  • Documentation related to long-term debts such as car loans and student loans
  • Identification card: State issued driver’s license or valid passport
  • Social security number
  • Profit and loss statements if self-employed(2 years)
  • Documentation related to child support and marriage alimony.
  • Details about your recent deposits in your bank account with proof
  • Documentation for any gift certificate or other funds used in your down payment

8. Hire a Real Estate Agent

Mortgage Process - Hire a Real Estate Agent

A skilled real estate agent is critical for your house-hunting process. They can help you look for houses within your budget and in your desired neighborhood. They also guide you through the home buying process. Real estate agents see thousands of homes every year. As a result, they will have a list of homes that fits within your budget along with the features you desire.

9. Get House Hunting

With everything in hand, you can jump right into house hunting. Your agent will have a list of properties for you to look into. Visit the properties with your agent. Choose that you could imagine living with your family.

Depending on your budget, you may not get everything that you desire. Make a list of features arranging based on the priority. This will help you choose the right one that meets your needs.

10. Make an Offer

Now that you have chosen the one that caught your eye, it is time to make an offer. Your real estate agent will now prepare the offer. They will know how to structure the offer and the contingencies to add. So, it’s better to leave them to it. The details in this agreement are negotiable. The sellers may want to make changes and add contingencies from their end as well.

When you make the offer, consider making an earnest money deposit. This is a cash deposit made to show that you are serious about securing the house. It can be as little as $500 or as much as 5% of the purchase price. The earnest money depends on the local custom, so it is safer to keep the real estate agent in the loop.

11. Get a Home Inspection

Mortgage Process - Home Inspection

Once your order is accepted, you may want to get a home inspection firsthand. It gives you an idea about the stability of the house and also the repairs needed (if any). Some of the critical areas the home inspector checks are:

  • Foundation
  • Roofing
  • Home’s Structure
  • Plumbing
  • Electrical

You can use any issues uncovered during a home inspection for negotiation before arriving at a final purchase price.

12. Apply for the Mortgage

You would have completed the mortgage application process during the pre-approval stage. If not, you would have to apply now.

Even with the pre-approval, you would have to submit final documentation before underwriting. For example, your lender would need the purchase agreement and proof of earnest money. Furthermore, they would also require the current income and asset documentation. And any other documents missed during the preapproval.

Within three business days(may change depending on your lender), you will get a loan estimate. The estimate contains the terms and conditions, interest rates, and fees.

13. Have the Home Appraised

The lender will set up an independent appraisal process. This protects you from paying more than the house is worth. During the process, the house is evaluated against similar properties in the same neighborhood.

If the appraised value is lower than the purchase price, you have three options to choose from:

  • First, pay the difference from your pockets at the time of closing.
  • The seller has to lower the value.
  • Walk away from home, provided you have the appraisal clause in the purchase agreement.

14. Mortgage Underwriting

Once the purchase agreement is finalized, it is sent to your banker, who then reviews your options. During the underwriting process, the underwriter verifies your income, debt, assets, and employment.

Since the preapproval lasts for only 90 days, your lender may recheck your credit reports. Therefore, refrain from taking on additional debts for this time being and put your loan in peril.

As a final step, you and the lender will decide when to lock in the mortgage rates. A mortgage rate lock will ensure that the interest remains the same until closing. The lock stays in place for 30-60 days.

Also, the title insurance is brought forward before closing. This is also when you make sure that the seller meets the contingencies as per the agreement.

15. Get Ready to Close

Once the underwriting is complete, the closing meeting is scheduled. It happens either at the attorney’s office (or title company). You’ll need to bring the following documents:

  • Photo ID
  • Closing Disclosure
  • Down Payment
  • Closing Costs

Of these, the closing disclosure is the most important. The loan estimate gave you the predicted cost, while disclosure confirms those costs. Above all, these should match without differing too much.

Regarding the closing costs, you have the option to:

Once everything is in order, checked, and signed, you can receive the keys for your property.

How Long Does It Take to Complete the Home Buying Process?

The process varies for everyone depending on the lender. Here’s an approximate time frame for your reference.

Pre-approval takes a day at the most, as long as you have the necessary documentation.

Closing can take as long as 30 days from the day you start underwriting. The lack of appraisers can delay the process. However, this may vary from county to county, especially if there is a shortage of appraisers.

Having the necessary documentation in hand may speed up the process.


Closing after Signed Contract

Buying a home may seem long and complex from the time of pre-approval to closing. However, armed with the required knowledge, you can overcome any foreseen circumstances. Besides, you are in a better position to make the process go smooth for all the parties involved.

Before closing, if you start having second thoughts, you can back off at any point in the process. The mortgage loan process comes with mile-long paperwork.

Even though staying on top of it all is difficult, take your time to understand every step of the way. Keep track of what you are paying and signing lest you fall into a hole unable to come out of.

First time homebuyer graphic

Mistakes of First Time Homebuyers

First Time HomebuyersHome affordability is the highest right now in 42 years, according to the National Association of Realtors. The home prices have also been down more than 30% from their 2006 peak.

While buying a home is not to be taken lightly, this news makes it ideal for homebuyers, especially those looking to buy for the first time.

Buying your first home can be challenging, especially in booming markets such as Tuscon. Being a seller’s market, the situation is already difficult without considering your lifestyle and financial situation. This article walks you through over 20 common pitfalls that first time homebuyers make that you can avoid.

Avoid 21 Mistakes First Time Homebuyers Make

First time or not, you need to be prepared for it. Being knowledgeable about the market and the home buyer mistakes to avoid takes you a long way into making a successful buy.

Here are some of the most serious mistakes you would want to avoid when you are a first-time homebuyer.

#1 Buying a House When You Are in Debt

It’s never a good idea to buy a home when you are already in debt. This includes credit cards, student loans, etc. With a new mortgage, you are just burdening yourself with more financial trouble, and even if you manage to buy a home, you are just one emergency away from foreclosure. Moreover, if anything breaks in your home, you wouldn’t have the means to fix it.

Instead, push your search on the back burner for now and pay off all existing loans. After your debt has been paid off, save a minimum of three months of living expenses as your emergency fund and then start saving for your down payment.

#2 Not Putting Forward a Sizeable Down payment

A survey by NerdWallet, concludes that 11% of its participants under the age of 35 agreed that low down payments were a mistake.

While you would have to pay 20% as a down payment ideally to avoid private mortgage insurance, it is not the case every time. Anything less than 10% is too little. With larger down payments, you can score a low interest rate, smaller mortgage, lower monthly payments, and better equity.

For example: Consider a home with a purchase price of $300,000. With a down payment of 5% or $15,000, you’d have to take a mortgage for $285,000. You’d have to pay this over the period of the loan with accrued interest and mortgage insurance payment.

However, with a down payment of 20%, you’d have to take out a mortgage for just $240,000, which may be easier on the pocket later on.

In short, you want to make sure that your down payment you make should allow you to afford the mortgage payments without crimping your budget.

#3 Not Utilizing the First Time Homebuyer Programs

Not all first time homebuyers have their down payment and closing costs saved up. That doesn’t mean that you have to delay buying your home until everything lines up. There are many low-to-no-down-payment programs, including state and federal loans, that cover your down payment as well and at competitive rates.

These loans make owning a home easier for first time homebuyers. By not utilizing them, you are missing out on invaluable assistance from the government. Talk to your mortgage lender about programs and grants for first time homebuyers.

On the downside, few lenders may not provide financing for houses purchased through these programs.

#4 Ignoring FHA, VA, and USDA Loans

First Time Homebuyer Program - FHA LoanOn the lookout for conventional loan programs, we miss out on special assistance programs such as FHA, VA, and USDA loans that make life easier for you. Their programs require very few qualifications such as no down payment, a low credit score, no mortgage insurance, etc.

The FHA (Federal Housing Administration) loan is ideal for people who have had financial issues in the past and have trouble qualifying for other loans. You may also still qualify to get the loan even if you’ve filed for bankruptcy or struggled financially in the past.

  • FICO Score of 580+
  • Down payment of 3.5%

Apart from the above, VA Loan or veteran assistance loan requires:

  • FICO Score of 620+
  • Certificate of Eligibility from the VA
  • Debt-to-income ratio – 60%

USDA loan is backed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which allows you to roll the closing costs into the loan.

  • FICO Score of 640+
  • Household income below USDA limits
  • Your home should be in a rural or suburban area.

#5 Buying the Best House You Can Afford

However beautiful the home may be, do not reach for one that is beyond your price range. This is important, especially in the current times when the home prices are on an upward curve.

Buying a home beyond your budget puts you at risk for foreclosure since it makes you increasingly open to financial stress. Furthermore, the monthly payments are liable to leave little room for other bills and expenses.

Instead of focusing on the amount you qualify for, check how much monthly payment you can afford in the long run, along with the other financial obligations.

Ideally, your house payment should not be more than 25% of your take-home pay. And that includes principal, interest, property tax, homeowner’s insurance, homeowners association fees, and mortgage insurance if applicable.

Do not forget to add these when considering how much you can afford as your monthly payment.

#6 Ignoring Resale Value

While it doesn’t make sense to consider the resale value now, it will matter at some point in the future when you plan on selling.

Research says average American life in a house for about ten years. With that in mind, consider the location and the neighborhood before buying your home.

Take time out to study your neighborhood.

Are there any boarded-up businesses? Are there any empty houses? If your answers are affirmative, people seem to be moving out.

Look out for developments like water, gas, or septic lines, as they may add value to the neighborhood.

#7 The Wrong Mortgage

As mentioned earlier, there are a lot of mortgages aimed at getting you a house no matter the financial situation. But, the truth is they can drown you in interests and fees, which you will find difficult to recover from the burden.

The wrong mortgage can tie you up to decades of financial stress.

What is the right mortgage? Well, that depends on the situation. All in all, a fixed-rate mortgage offers better terms, saves money in interest, fees, etc.

Even with all the loan options available, it is better to stick with a conservative mortgage. Compare the different mortgage terms and how they affect your monthly payments and total interest.

#8 Neglecting Mortgage Preapproval

The current real estate market trend favors sellers rather than buyers, which means more demand for affordable homes than available. In a competitive market, you can quickly lose your property to another buyer if you are not pre-approved.

A preapproval letter attached along your offer shows the seller that you are a serious buyer and that your credits and finances are stable enough to get a home loan.  Besides, it also means that the paperwork process moves faster as you begin your home search.

#9 Picking the Wrong Lender

As much as it is essential to find the right real estate agent, the same translates to a lender. Having the right lender is the most crucial step in your home buying process.

The right lender gives a home buyer multiple choices for a down payment, mortgage payment, term, and other factors that go into buying a house.

Never allow a lender to dictate the terms. Ask for the explanation behind their financial recommendation, and if they do not provide one, it is better not to engage.

The process of closing on a home is vast; the mortgage application itself requires a lot of documentation and paperwork. You’d want someone who takes time and explains everything to you. Do not forget to take into account the customer service and the closing time.

Keep in mind that a suitable lender takes you on the right path and can save you some money along the road.

#10 Getting just One Quote

First time homebuyers often go with the first bank or financial institution they get the quote from. According to Freddie Mac, you will likely save $1500 for every new lender you get a quote.

The more quotes you get, the better interest rates and loan terms you get. Not just that, you also get more data to compare and shop around.

Talk with three different lenders and mortgage brokers. Compare the interest rate, loan terms, lender fees, closing costs, etc. Not only do you want someone with low interest rates but also with better closing time.

#11 Not Reviewing Credit Reports

According to Federal Reserve, 90% of US homeowners who took out mortgages had a credit score of 65o while 75% had 700 and sometimes even more.

Your credit report plays a vital part in establishing your mortgage amount and interest rate. With a conventional loan, you would need a credit score of 65o; however, 700 or more would be ideal.

If your score is low, the chances are that you may have missed a few payments on time. In this case, you can expect your interest rate and APR to be higher.

First time homebuyers may not be aware that paying the bills on time doesn’t warrant a good credit report. Even if you have been handling your finances responsibly, the chances are that there could be errors hurting your score.

Look for tweaks you can make to increase your credit score before getting into the home buying process.

#12 Ignoring the Neighborhood

While focusing on the home itself, home-buyers make the mistake of ignoring the neighborhood, access to amenities, school district, etc.

While you may love your new home, the chances are that you won’t prefer living there with a wrong surrounding area with poor access to amenities. And selling it will also be difficult since it may not fetch you a good resale value.

Drive around the neighborhood. Look around for parks and schools. Make a note of the businesses and schools around the home. And most importantly, your neighbors should be welcoming.

And coming to the exterior, pay attention to the yard. Any long-term issues like water pooling should be considered serious since they may affect the foundation. Also, consider the size of the yard. Is it enough for the kids to play.

#13 Not Shopping Around

While you need to compromise to some degree when it comes to house hunting, do not cave on the most important things.

Do not buy a condo just because it is cheaper than a home. In the same line, do not go for a one or two-bedroom house when planning on having children. These are not compromises rather strains that would not work in the long run.

Unless you are looking for a more customized home, there will be something similar in the same neighborhood. Look for homes constructed by the same builder, and you can find a home with the same features.

So, shop around and be open to a broad market. Use real estate apps and websites to narrow down the process depending on your price range.

#14 Moving Too Fast

Buying a home is complex, especially when you get into the mortgage process. The biggest mistake home-buyers do hurrying up with the process without any plan. This can cost you later on since you would not be able to save enough for your down payment and closing costs. It also prevents you from addressing the issues in your credit reports.

What you can do is extend the timeline to at least a year or even more. Remember that it may take years to save enough for a down payment and repair your credit report.

Ideally, homebuyers should be paying down the debt, saving money, and boost their credit score in preparation for buying their first home.

#15 Dragging Your Heels

Your first home is special. While you prefer to wait around to make a careful decision, you may lose the property to the competition. Losing the property you put so much time, and effort in can be heartbreaking.

The home buying process can be long and drawn out until you find the perfect home. It takes time and effort from your regular activities and works to make it work.

Do not drag it further unnecessarily. At the same time, you do not want to rush into buying a home either.

To put it another way, the moment you find a home that you love, pounce in with an offer. If not, someone else might, and you will have to continue with the search. Do not underestimate how slow and laborious house shopping can be.

#16 Emptying Your Savings

First Time Homebuyers Emptying Their SavingsGenerally, first time homebuyers dump everything they have in their savings account towards a down payment, thereby draining it of even emergency funds. The mistake they make is when they ignore or do not account for the unexpected fees associated with purchasing a new home. If you do not have any funds set aside for these expenses, you could end up in dire financial straits.

When the opportunity to buy a home arises, make sure that you have money set aside for the closing costs and the other expenses.

#17 Miscalculating the Hidden Costs

Most first time homebuyers are unaware of the hidden costs that come with buying a home. The hidden fees include:

  • High utility bills
  • New utilities
  • Homeowner’s insurance
  • Maintenance and repair
  • Property taxes
  • Furniture

When you do not anticipate these costs, you may end up touching your emergency funds. Add the expenses to your savings goal and save them before buying your home.

Remember, the mortgage payment doesn’t account for the costs of homeownership like utility costs, property taxes, maintenance, etc.

#18 Not Planning for Closing Costs and Moving Expenses

Most first time homebuyers focus so much on the prospect of a new home and the down payment that they forget about the closing costs and the other expenses that come with buying a house.

Closing costs, including the appraisal fee, inspection fee, property taxes, insurance, and legal fees, will be around 3 – 4% of the purchase price. For example, for a home valued at $300,000, the closing costs would be around $9,000 – $12,000. The catch is that you would have to pay this before the closing date.

And, then there are the moving expenses. The moving expenses can be anywhere between $650 – $1,800 for 100 miles. Ensure that you plan ahead for these costs, save up along with your down payment and then jump on the housing market.

#19 Skipping Home Inspection

It is wise not to look at appearances like cosmetic issues, lousy landscaping, and outdated carpeting if you are looking for a good deal. Instead, concentrate on the structure such as roof, foundation, floor plan, etc.

One way to ensure a sound structure is via home inspection. It helps you avoid disasters and give you a thorough idea of the electrical, plumbing, heating, and cooling systems, design, etc.

While a home inspection costs a few hundred dollars, it is worth the information it provides.

#20 Forgetting about Homeowner’s Insurance

Homeowner's InsuranceAnother potentially costly mistake first time homebuyers make is avoid taking necessary insurances. Title insurance and homeowners’ insurance are the two most important insurance you may want to consider.

In case there is content to the title of the home, the former comes to your aid and likely pays off to ensure that the house is yours.

On the other hand, homeowner’s insurance helps you during a fire, flood, and other natural or manmade disasters. Not only should it replace your belongings but also help you to rebuild your home.

#21 Taking on Credit While Closing

The period between applying for a mortgage and finalizing the loan is crucial. You may want to refrain from doing anything that hurts your credit score, like a new credit card, auto loan, student loan debt, etc.

Your lender will check your credit score a week before closing, even though it has already been done earlier. If there is a change in credit score or debt to income ratio, the interest rate is bound to change along with the fees. This can result in delays or even cancellations.

Wait until after the closing to apply for new credit cards, furniture, or appliances.


Buying a home is a significant decision, especially if it is the first time. It defines financial freedom and maturity, making the buying process an emotional one.

However, it is essential that you make rational decisions and not get wrapped in the notion of a dream home. You need to be able to make a sound financial decision while also committing yourself to the task.

To achieve this, you should be aware of the common mistakes first time homebuyers make in order to be able to avoid them. Equipped with the knowledge you should be able to save for a down payment, find the right mortgage, get preapproval, and finalize your new home.

Remember, every mistake mentioned above could not only cost you thousands of dollars but wreak emotional distress as well.

The people at Altitude Home Loans bring many decades of experience in doing loans the right way. If you are interested in purchasing a home, contact one of our Loan Officers today and we’ll guide you through the Home Loan application process. You’ll be glad you did.

Related Article: First-Time Homebuyer’s Guide

Steps to buying a house

Steps to Buying a House

Steps to buying a houseBuying a home is many American’s ideal goals, but the process involved in buying one is complex. Before purchasing a home, you need to make sure your credit and finances are in order. You’ll need to fill out different paperwork and submit various forms of verification before securing a home. Unless you plan on buying your home upfront, you’ll need to finance through a bank.

What type of home loan will you need?

The type of home loan you’re looking for impacts your approval odds. You should always hire the right real estate agent to help during the buying process. This alleviates much of the stress on you, so you can focus on getting your dreams home.

If you’re interested in purchasing a new home, continue reading to find out everything you need to know.

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