First-Time Home Buyer Tips for Buying a Home in Reno or Sparks
If you resolved to buy a home this year, then knowing some first-time home buyer tips is essential to reaching your goal. To put together a list of helpful first-time home buyer tips, I reached out to two of Dickson Realty’s trusted partners: Dereck Bowlen, the Branch Manager for Synergy Home Mortgage in Caughlin Ranch and Dwight Pace, the Homebuyer Programs Supervisor for the Nevada Housing Division. They recommended these seven first-time home buyer tips to anyone who wants to buy a new home this year.
Follow These 7 First-Time Home Buyer Tips
1. Assess your financial inventory
The first step to buying a home is getting a clear picture of your finances, Bowlen says. He recommended that first-time home buyers take an inventory of their income, assets, and liabilities using an online tool or even a spreadsheet or sheet of paper. Lenders use this information to put together financing options for buyers.
“Having a better picture of where you stand financially is the first step,” Bowlen says.
2. Get educated
Then, Pace recommends that first-time home buyers get educated on the many aspects of purchasing a home. The Nevada Housing Division offers a series of educational videos on the topic on its website as well as preferred providers for in-person education.
“We’re just a huge believer in these home buyer education courses because it really prepares you and answers so many of the questions that they have,” Pace says.
3. Find a loan officer and a Realtor
Once a first-time home buyer has a clear idea of their finances and the home buying process, it’s time to put assemble a homebuying dream team of a Realtor and a lender.
“Having a team of experts really takes a lot of the stress away from buying a home because they are on your side and answering your questions for you,” Pace says.
Some first-time home buyers think they need to wait to meet with a lender until they have found a home they want to buy. But, that’s not the case, Bowen and Pace said.
“It’s never too early to start with the lender,” Pace says. “Lenders are not only are experts in mortgages, but they’re also experts in getting you there and helping you. Many lenders, the good ones, will work six months, 12 months for the home buyer, and get them prepared and ready to buy a home. So, it’s never too early to talk with a good lender, and their job is to help you through the full process.”
4. See what programs you may qualify for
The right lender can also help buyers see if they are eligible for any of Nevada’s home buying assistance programs through the Nevada Housing Division. The Division offers several programs through Home is Possible, including ones for first-time home buyers, veterans, and teachers.
The Division certifies specific lenders to be HIP-qualified and able to help homebuyers access these programs. Synergy Home Mortgage is one of those lenders.
“Your first step in our program is to go and meet with a Home is Possible lender,” Pace says. “The lenders are experts on our programs.”
5. Figure out your down payment
A lender can also help a first-time home buyer determine how much of a down payment they will need to buy a home. Then, they will also be able to provide different funding options and ideas.
“How much more are you going to need to save, or do you have access to maybe gift funds from a family member?” are some of the questions a lender may ask a first-time home buyer, Bowlen says.
6. Figure out how much you can afford each month
Another crucial part of a first-time home buyer’s financial equation is how much their home payment will be each month.
“First time home buyers usually ask how much of a mortgage they qualify for?” Bowlen says. “And, ‘How much do you want to pay?’ is my response.”
Bowlen recommends that buyers be realistic about how much they can afford each month, based on the financial review they conducted at the beginning of the process. He also cautions to be wary of online calculators that may not account for an individual’s financial factors.
“A lender gives first-time home buyers a better idea of what goes into the payment, be it property taxes, homeowner’s insurance, or even mortgage insurance,” he says.
7. Set measurable goals and go after them
After all those meetings and conversations, it’s time to start setting goals,” Bowlen says.
“That’s the direction that the loan officer can give you,” Bowlen says. “You may need to pay off debt or save more money, or it may be a combination of both. If the loan officer did their job right, the first-time home buyer should have some pretty specific goals and a timeline.”
Bowlen recommends that first-time home buyers use SMART goals to help them achieve their home buying dream. SMART goals are specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and time-related.
“If they’re serious about wanting to get into that first home, then they’re going to stick to that plan to get to where they want to be,” Bowlen says.