Real Estate Center
Buying Your First Home
Step into the housing market with confidence.
Get excited, because the next stage of your life begins now!
Leaving your rental to buy a home is a big step.
Your landlord is responsible for repairs and upkeep. In addition, depending on your lease, you may not even be paying for electricity or water. On the other hand, if your current residence is growing in value, then your landlord is building equity through your monthly payments – not you.
Homeownership offers financial benefits that renting does not. While you’ll want to consult a tax advisor, you’ll learn that the interest you pay on your mortgage is tax deductible, as are some closing and moving costs. If you pay points on your loan to reduce the interest rate on your mortgage, that amount is also tax deductible for that year. When you decide to buy a home, you’re making a decision to invest in your future.
Our interactive calculators can help you determine how much home you can afford. How much are you comfortable paying on for a mortgage every month? What are your monthly costs for transportation, utilities, insurance, groceries and other living expenses? Considering all expenses will give you a better idea of how much you can afford. Leave room in your monthly budget for home maintenance, taxes, association fees (if applicable) and emergencies.
Talking with a Justice Federal Mortgage Representative can help you decide your ideal price range, and the amount of money you’ll need to borrow to purchase your first home.
Your credit report determines the three-digit credit score used by lenders to determine which type of loan you’ll qualify. To secure your free credit report visit www.annualcreditreport.com
Before you start your house hunt, we encourage you to take a moment to get preapproved.
Getting preapproved lets you know your approved price range and gives you a powerful negotiation tool. We’ll pull your credit and ask you a few questions about your income, financial assets and any debt you may carry. The loan amount of your preapproval is subject to the findings of your formal underwriting review.
Shopping for a home shouldn't be complicated. We make it easy. HomeAdvantage® is a Member service that can help you search, buy, sell and save on your next home!
Find a trusted, prescreened real estate agent through HomeAdvantage®, in partnership with CU Realty Services.
HomeAdvantage® puts all the real estate tools you could ever want or need under one roof-ours! It’s absolutely free to use, and can help you:
- Search for a Home. Search through the most current online MLS listings to find the home of your dreams
- Find a Realtor®. Make a connection with a top local Realtor from our network of agents
- Earn Cash Rewards Use one of our agents to buy or sell a home, and earn a Cash Rewards – the average is near $1,500*
- Get Listing Alerts. Save your favorite searches and get email updates when new listings become available
- Do Your Research. Research neighborhoods, crime rates, schools, and comparable properties easily
- Get Your Questions Answered. CU Realty’s Member Services team is available seven days-a-week to answer your questions. Just a call or click when you need help.
*The HomeAdvantage program is made available to you through a relationship between Justice Federal Credit Union and CU Realty Services. Program Cash Rewards are awarded by CU Realty Services to buyers and sellers who select and use a real estate agent in the HomeAdvantage network. Home buyers or sellers are not eligible for Cash Rewards if they use an agent outside this network. Using Justice Federal Credit Union for a mortgage is not a requirement to earn Cash Rewards. Cash Rewards amounts are dependent on the commissions paid to the agent. Justice Federal Credit Union may have specific rules on how your Cash Rewards will be paid out. Cash Rewards incentives are available in most states; however, are void where prohibited by law or by the lender. Consult a Representative for details.
Let’s say you have decided to make an offer on a home. You’ll have to weigh some important factors that might affect your offer amount:
- The home’s asking price
- Recent area home sales
- Market conditions: Has the home been on the market for a while?
- How badly do you want the house?
- The condition of the home
Sellers know that an offer from a preapproved buyer is solid. Your preapproval gives you an advantage over homebuyers who wait until after they find a home to get preapproved. Sellers also appreciate that buyers like you can close quicker with a smoother home loan process.
Your real estate professional will prepare the documents that will make your offer official and will present it to the seller or to the agent who represents the seller. Usually the seller will have a few days to make a decision. Here are a few definitions to help explain this process:
The purchase agreement is a binding document that your agent will supply that indicates the amount of your offer. It may also include details, like which appliances will stay with the home, and when you’d like to take possession.
Earnest money is a deposit showing your commitment to buying a home. Typically, the deposit is a small percentage of the asking price that’s later applied to your down payment. Your agent will hold the check/deposit (made out to the seller) until the offer is accepted
The counteroffer is the seller’s response to your offer – made in part to continue negotiations toward a purchase agreement. When your Agent presents the seller with your offer, sellers can do one of three things:
- Agree to your offer
- Decline your offer
- Make a counteroffer
Most offers are contingent upon a home inspection. For your own protection, the inspection is your chance to hire a qualified professional home inspector. A home inspector will go over every inch of the home you want to buy and bring any concerns to your attention.
Finding an Inspector
Ask friends, family and your agent for recommendations. You can search for inspectors in your area on the American Society of Home Inspectors website, (www.ashi.com). Be sure to find someone who has experience and references and who is fully licensed and insured.
The cost will vary but can range from $250 to $600, depending on the location, property and optional tests added to the inspection. Most homeowners will agree that a thorough home inspection is worth every penny and peace of mind.
A thorough inspection includes heating, cooling, septic systems, plumbing, electrical, walls, floors, ceilings, foundation, roof, gutters, downspouts, insulation, ventilation, major appliances and the garage. You may opt to pay extra for tests such as radon or carbon monoxide levels. Your home inspection professional is equipped to administer tests and give you information on the results.
Plan On Being Present During the Inspection
You’ll learn not only about the condition of the home but also how everything works, and you can ask questions as you go along. The inspection is a good time to thoroughly look at the house and perhaps take measurements for window treatments, carpet or appliances you plan on replacing. At the end of the inspection, the inspector will review their findings with you.
The Inspection Report Rarely Comes Back Perfect
Most inspections will leave you with an action list, perhaps several things that will need attention after you move in. If there are issues that need attention, you can request that the seller make needed repairs. You also have the option to renegotiate the purchase price to absorb the repair costs. If the inspection reveals more than you might have bargained for in the way of repairs or damage, you can withdraw your offer, get your deposit back and resume your house hunting.
Home insurance protects your home and what’s inside it. It covers you against losses or damage, from fire, weather, theft and more. And, it protects you from liability if an accident happens on your property.
You can’t buy a home without it. In order to complete the mortgage process, you’ll have to provide proof of insurance at your closing. It’s important that the lender’s investment is fully insured, as well as your equity in the home and your personal possessions.
Justice Federal offers home insurance available through the TruStage Insurance Agency. Affiliates of TruStage have been providing insurance and financial services designed for credit unions and members for more than 80 years and have served more than 16 million credit union members nationwide.
Safeguard your biggest investment. See how much you could save when you combine auto and homeowners insurance, visit www.trustage.com.
The closing is the completion of the real estate sale and mortgage transaction and is the official transfer of possession from the seller to the buyer. It’s customary to take a final walk-through of the property shortly before the closing to ensure the home is still in good condition.
Review and Acknowledge your Closing Disclosure
At least three business days before your closing, you’ll receive your Closing Disclosure. This document outlines the costs you’ll pay at closing. You must acknowledge you’ve received it, or your closing will be delayed.
What to Expect on Closing Day
You’ll be asked to bring a valid driver’s license, a certified check (if applicable) and any additional documents your situation may require. There may be quite a few people at your closing: the seller, the lender, you, the seller’s mortgage holder, the real estate agent, the transfer agent (if it’s a co-op), the managing agent (if it’s a condo) and the title company representative.
What Are Closing Costs?
Costs vary depending on your state. For instance, title companies may handle your closing, however, some states require an attorney to conduct the closing. In those states, borrowers aren’t required to pay a title company a closing fee.
Know When Your New Home Will Be Vacated
Before the closing, make sure you both agree on the timing for the vacancy of the home. If the seller asks to stay in the home after the closing, you’re entitled to negotiate rent payment for the time they stay in the home.
What to Expect at the Closing Table
You’ll sign documents that put you in possession of the home, as well as sign your mortgage documents. Then your mortgage company representative will pay the seller for your home on your behalf. You’ll be given the keys to your home and payment information for your mortgage. Be sure to keep your closing documents in a safe place for future reference.
You Can Count on Justice Federal
Your Justice Federal Mortgage Representative is not only here to help you manage your home
financing today, but will also help you to achieve your long-term goals. After all, life changes,
and your mortgage should change with it.
Any time you have questions regarding home financing, we encourage you to contact your Mortgage Representative. Justice Federal will continue to provide you with the service you deserve for the life of your loan.
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