Kathy Wilfert - Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage


Obtaining a mortgage can be overwhelming, particularly for a first-time homebuyer. Lucky for you, we're here to help you streamline the process of analyzing various mortgage options and choosing one that matches or exceeds your expectations.

Now, let's take a look at three tips to help first-time homebuyers secure the ideal mortgage.

1. Assess All of the Mortgage Options at Your Disposal

Both fixed- and adjustable-rate mortgages are available, and homebuyers who understand the pros and cons of these mortgage options may be better equipped than others to make the right mortgage decision.

A fixed-rate mortgage ensures a homebuyer will pay the same amount each month. For example, a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage enables a homebuyer to budget for monthly home payments over the course of three decades. And in many instances, a homebuyer may be able to pay off a fixed-rate mortgage early without penalty.

On the other hand, an adjustable-rate mortgage may start out with a lower monthly payment that escalates over the course of a few years. An adjustable-rate mortgage, for instance, may allow a homebuyer to acquire a home that surpasses his or her initial budget thanks to a lower initial monthly payment. However, after the first few years, the monthly mortgage payment may increase, and a homebuyer will need to plan accordingly.

Assess your mortgage options closely – you'll be glad you did. By doing so, you can boost your chances of selecting a mortgage that works well based on your current and future financial needs.

2. Evaluate Your Credit Score

Believe it or not, a first-time homebuyer's credit score may impact his or her ability to get the right mortgage. Fortunately, a first-time homebuyer can analyze his or her credit score without delay.

You can request a free copy of your credit report annually from each of the three credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). Then, with your credit report in hand, you can better understand how potential lenders may view your mortgage application.

Of course, if you receive a copy of your credit report and find glaring errors, be sure to let the credit bureau know immediately. This will enable you to get any mistakes corrected and ensure these problems won't slow you down as you pursue your dream residence.

3. Consult with Potential Lenders

Although getting a mortgage may seem like an uphill climb at first, consulting with potential lenders may prove to be exceedingly valuable, especially for a first-time homebuyer.

Banks and credit unions employ friendly, knowledgeable staff who are happy to educate you about assorted mortgage options. These lenders can teach you about the ins and outs of various mortgage options at your convenience.

Lastly, if you need extra help in your search for the perfect mortgage, real estate agents may be able to offer assistance. These housing market professionals can provide honest, unbiased recommendations about lenders in your area so you can move one step closer to securing your ideal mortgage.

Ready to get a mortgage for the first time? Use these tips, and you can accelerate the process of obtaining a mortgage that suits you perfectly.


Refinancing your home can have many benefits. First, you’ll be able to take out money to address immediate needs in your home like improvement projects. These things can only benefit your home’s value in the long term. Before you take the leap to refinance your home, you should be sure that you’re actually ready to take this step. Knowing what you’re in for allows the entire process to go more smoothly. Read on for tip to understand more about the refinancing process and what you’ll need.


Know Your Finances


Just like when you initially purchase a home, refinancing your home will require you to have your finances in order. Take a look at your budget and needs and determine if it makes sense for you to refinance your home. For example, your employment status or distance from life goals like retirement could have a factor on the term of the loan you’re willing to take out. A 15-year mortgage may make more sense than a 30-year mortgage, but your monthly payments will also be a bit higher. You need to take all of this into consideration before you refinance. 


Your credit score will also be a factor in refinancing your home just as it was when you initially bought your house. Check your score and see if any red flags pop up. Getting these corrected earlier rather than later can help you to get a better rate on the loan. There are plenty of free services that exist online that allow you to check your credit score.   


Know The Value Of Your Home


If you know the value of your home and understand how much equity you’ve built up in the house, it will give you a better idea of your refinancing options. You can’t get more than 70% of what your home is currently worth as a cash-out refinance. If you owe more than your home is worth, you might be in a tighter financial situation than you realize. You can do plenty of things to increase the value of your home; it will just take some time. You may even consider selling your house, making a move, and starting from scratch. Financially, this could be the best option, and you could also end up with a better interest rate.


Getting your finances in order and the simple act of preparing for a home refinance could give you some insight into your financial picture after being a homeowner for some time.


Stay out of debt. Don’t open new accounts. Pay down any debt you may have. That is the standard advice for people who are trying to get in good financial standing before buying a home or refinancing a home. 


Do some research and find the best home loan refinance rates around. Then, look into your own finances and decide what’s best for you regarding refinancing your home loan.      



There are so many factors that go into finding and securing the financing to buy a home.   While lenders require quite a bit of information for you to get a loan, you still need to be aware of your own financial picture. Even if you’re pre-approved for a certain amount of money to buy a home, you still need to dig into your finances a bit deeper than a lender would. The bottom line is that you can't rely solely on a lender to tell you how much you can afford for a monthly payment on a home. Even if you’re approved to borrow the maximum amount of money for your finances to buy a home, it doesn’t mean that you actually should use that amount. There are so many other real world things that you need to consider outside of the basic numbers that are plugged into a mortgage formula.   


Run Your Own Numbers


It’s important to sit down and do your own budget when you’re getting ready to buy a home. You have plenty of monthly expenses including student loan debt, car payments, utility bills, and more. Don’t forget that you need to eat too! Think about what your lifestyle is like. How much do you spend on food? Do you go out to the movies often or spend a regular amount of cash on clothing? Even if you plan to make adjustments to these habits when buying a home, you’ll want to think honestly about all of your needs and spending habits before signing on to buy a home. 


Now, you’ll know what your true monthly costs are. Be sure to include things like home insurance, property taxes, monthly utilities, and any other personal monthly expenses in this budget. If you plan to put down a lower amount on the home, you’ll also need to include additional insurance costs like private mortgage insurance (PMI).


The magic number that you should remember when it comes to housing costs is 30%. This is the percentage of your monthly income that you should plan to spend on housing. Realistically, this could make your budget tight so this is often thought of as a maximum percentage. By law, a lender can’t approve a mortgage that would take up more than 35% of your monthly income. Some lenders have even stricter requirements such as not allowing a borrower to have a mortgage that would be more than 28% of monthly income. This is where the debt-to-income ratio comes into play.


As you can see, it’s important to take an earnest look at your finances to avoid larger money issues when you buy a home.  



Myths are lies that are perceived to be true. Like every other industry in the world that has myths surrounding them, the real estate industry has its tales. People have ideas in their head about the mortgage industry that are not true. If you are buying a house and all you feel is happiness, then you might be working with a myth you heard and perceive as being real; same also applies if you are buying a home and all you feel is dread. 

Below are few mortgage misconceptions that many buyers and sellers mistake for truth:

You Need A Near-Perfect Credit Score

It's essential to have a high credit score, but lack of it doesn't mean you are out of the game. Even if you have some credit blemishes but always ensured you paid bills, you probably won't have a lot to worry. If you are bothered about your credit score, other factors could offset adverse credit. Depending on your loan type, each situation is analyzed differently. 

A Down Payment of Twenty Percent Is Needed

Compulsorily providing 20% of the purchase value of the home as a down payment is also a myth. Making a down payment of 20% is helpful in the long run, especially to avoid paying monthly insurance to a private mortgage. Presently, mortgage companies and banks provide loans to individuals without requesting for a down payment close to 20%. It all depends on your financial situation.

A House Is an Excellent Investment

A home could be considered as a long-term investment if you do not intend living in it – but then, nothing in the real estate business is guaranteed. If you purchase a house to live in for several years, it's better you don't think about it as a financial tool for padding your investment or retirement plan. Buying a house is part of your net worth, but you shouldn't count on getting a return after investing much money into the home. Something most home buyers fail to understand is that the value of houses appreciates at a shallow rate and can have negative growth for long periods. 

The House Belongs to You After You Get the Keys

It's one of the myths that homebuyers assume is true. When you purchase a house via mortgage; if you do not have equity or a significant amount as down payment, your bank owns your home. For as long as it's required to finalize payment for your home - including interest, the house doesn't belong to you.

The American Dream 

In as much as owning a home is supposed to be the American dream; it can also be the American nightmare. Acquiring a home via a mortgage and not being able to meet up with payment can turn out to be your worst nightmare. Owning a home is a decision that requires thorough thinking without jumping into any decision 

Buy a house if you can afford it but be sure you have your facts right.


Preparing to buy a home is a long and stressful process for many. You’ve spent months, or even years, saving for a down payment, planning your future, and building your credit to ensure you get the best possible interest rate on your loan.

Then you find out, when getting preapproved for a mortgage, that your credit score dropped by a few points. So, what gives?

There’s a lot to understand about how credit scores affect mortgages and vice versa. In today’s post, I’m going to attempt to cover everything you need to know about how applying for a mortgage can affect your credit score so you’ll be prepared when it comes time to buy a home.

Prequalification, preapproval, and credit checks

There are a lot of misconceptions about what it means to be preapproved or prequalified for a loan. Some of it is due to the jargon that is used in real estate transactions, and some of it is just a marketing technique on the part of lenders.

So, what does it mean to be prequalified and preapproved?

The short version is that getting prequalified is a quick and easy process to determine whether you’re eligible to lend to and how much you’re likely to receive. It involves a quick review of your finances, and often includes either a self-reported or soft credit inquiry.

A “soft inquiry” is the type of credit check that employers typically use for a background check. It doesn’t affect your credit score, as you are not applying to open a new line of credit. In fact, many lenders’ process for prequalification is a simple online form that doesn’t even require a credit check. We’ll talk more about the difference between soft inquiries and hard inquiries later.

The simplicity of prequalification makes it a simple and easy way to get started. But, it isn’t always accurate in how well it predicts the type of mortgage and loan amount you can receive. That’s where preapproval comes in.

When you get preapproved for a loan you fill out an official application (you often have to pay for these). This will request documentation for your finances and assets, and will ask your approval to run a detailed credit report.


These credit reports are considered “hard inquiries” and are a vital step in getting approved or preapproved for a mortgage. However, they also, at least temporarily, lower your credit score.

Why hard inquiries lower your credit score

When any creditor, be it a bank or credit card company, is determining whether to lend to you, they want to know that you are a safe investment. To determine this, they want to know how frequently you pay your bills on time, how much you owe to other creditors, and how financially stable you are right now.

When you make multiple inquiries in a short period of time, it’s a red flag to lenders that you might be in trouble financially. Thus, hard inquiries will lower your credit score for 1 to 2 months.

Applying to multiple lenders: the silver lining

When borrowers apply for a mortgage, they often shop around and apply to multiple lenders. While it may seem that all of these hard inquiries will add up and drastically lower their credit score, this isn’t the case.

Credit bureaus take into account the source of the inquiries. If they realize that you are applying for mortgages, they will typically recognize this as rate shopping and group these applications together on your credit report, counting them only as a single inquiry. This means your score shouldn’t drop multiple times for multiple mortgage preapprovals that were made within a small time frame.

Now that you know more about how mortgage applications affect your credit score, you can confidently shop around for the best mortgage for you and your family.




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