Becoming a first time home owner is a big step and a fun time, but it can also be overwhelming and it's easy to get scared. I mean this is a big, big decision and what happens if you make a mistake? Well, I can't guarantee that you won't make a mistake but I can tell you that there are some things you can do to make sure that you don't.
For one thing, times are on your side. What I mean by that is the fact that the recent mortgage meltdown has made banks more cautious than ever. This can actually work in your favor. One big reason that so many homeowners are in trouble right now is that the banks made loans they probably shouldn't have made.
Homeowners were buying more home than they could really afford because the interest rates were so low. Unfortunately when these adjustable rates sky rocketed many home owners couldn't afford to pay.
As fun as it might be to blame the banks, the homeowners themselves have to take on some of the blame. I'm not an attorney and I know how hard it can be to understand all those documents but that is no excuse to not ask questions. When you are getting an adjustable rate mortgage it's just plain dumb to not find out how high your payments could go and make sure that you can afford those high payments.
The point is this: any type of financial transaction is your responsibility. It doesn't matter if you buy a house, a car or a microwave oven, it's up to you to make sure that you can afford it and that you find out just what the terms are.
So if your bank approves you for $200.000 you have to be the one who makes sure that you can really afford that mortgage payment. Make sure that you factor your property taxes and insurance into the mix. And make sure you escrow for property taxes and insurance even if the bank says you don't have to. Most people simply won't save the money and will find themselves in hot water when those bills come due.
Ask your friends or your bank for a recommendation for a good, licensed home inspector. Don't skip out on the inspection. Make sure you walk around with the inspector. Don't worry about sounding dumb or be afraid to ask questions. After all, this might be your home and you have every right to make sure it's in good condition.
One other point, make sure that you keep enough room in your monthly budget after your mortgage payment to start a savings account. It doesn't have to be a lot but put some money away every month. You never know what the future holds and it doesn't hurt to have a little back up plan financially.
Congratulations on your decision to become a first time home owner. You really couldn't have picked a better time. Just listen to your head and not just your heart and you should be fine.