Profile picture for jimndeb99

I am a first time home buyer and do not know where to begin can you help?

I would like to know if there are programs to help with the down payment and closing costs. I am just trying to find out where to begin.

Thank You
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October 11 2011 - Long Beach
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Answers (16)

The best thing for you to do when considering such an important decision is to select a highly experienced and recommended mortgage broker and full time real estate agent. Together they will provide you with all the information you'll need, and with their support, you will have the tools you need to undertake this exciting step. Best of luck to you!
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October 12 2011
Great question!  You will/should be working up close and personal with two folks in this process--your lender and your real estate agent.  Call at least three banks and ask them the questions you just posed here. Pick small, local banks with good customer service.   When you find someone who calls you back promptly and answers your questions to your satisfaction, work with them.  Once you find the loan officer you like, ask them for a good faith estimate.  That will have all your up front expenses and costs to purchase a home based on your income.

Then interview 3 real estate agents and do the same thing.  Tell them to explain how they will represent you and work for you.  You want a team on your side representing your bests interests.  Remember they work for you.  Chose carefully and Good Luck.
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October 12 2011
I think your first step would be the local lender at your bank or credit union.  Pick their brain, ask a lot of questions. 
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October 12 2011
Hi Jim,

we here in Florida have different housing agencies on state and city level who help with Down Payment Assistance, as well USDA programs. You could google a lot of information or talk to different Brokers in your area.

Also the Seller could help you with closing cost and you need to include the request in your initial offer. There are many sources and you can talk to real estate professionals, lenders or mortgage brokers who can help you.

Good luck,
Annett T. Block
[website removed by Zillow moderator]
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October 12 2011
Profile picture for sunnyview
You might take a look at the CA Housing Finance Agency site. They have some good tips and programs that might be helpful for you.
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October 12 2011
Jim N Deb
The best way to start is to contact 3 local loan brokers in the area in which you plan to buy a home and ask the same questions.  Ask If there are USDA homes in the area as well.  There may be county or state or Federal funds available to you.  They come and go.  This changes all the time.
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October 12 2011
Research is key. You won't know what a good buy is unless you've done some research. Also getting prequalified is necessary. If u come across that dream house, you want to be able to jump on it. Lastly find an agent you feel comfortable with and trust to help guide you through the buying process. Good luck!
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October 12 2011
Hi Jim,
I would have to agree with SoCal, you do need to do research.  Here in Stockton we have CalHafa where there is down payment assistance for first time buyers.  There are only specific loan officers that are qualified to do thes loans, and you have to jump through some hoops, but it helps with down payment assistance.  Now, you can also ask for downpayment assistance from the seller by asking in the offer. If the offer is accepted then the seller is willing to give you assistance. 
When you have decided that you have researched enough and are ready to talk to a lender make sure you interview at least 3 loan officers from three differen banks or mortgage brokers to see what they can offer you.  If you are unsure which lenders you should talk to, contact a REALTOR who can direct you to a few that they have worked with and know will take care of their clients. 
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October 11 2011
Profile picture for wetdawgs
Thumbs up to Dan and SoCalEngr for excellent answers.

Just because one can find ways to buy without putting a penny of one's own money into the pot doesn't mean it is a sensible thing to do.   If you've not yet been able to save up down payment and closing costs, put together a plan.    It is far easier to purchase a home initially than to keep a home through the joys of furnaces going out, roofs leaking etc.   Set yourself up for success with saving up that down payment and closing costs.  (I've written all my politicians with the recommendation of a minimum of 20% down for any type of loan.)

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October 11 2011
I would talk to a local real estate agent and ask them about the programs that your area has. For example in the county that my office is in there are some programs that will give the down payment to the buyer as long as they are planning to use the home as there primary residence and you don't have to pay it back unless you sell the home.
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October 11 2011
Profile picture for the_country_hick
Below are some blogs that help you to decide what is best for you from a financial perspective.

"Does it make more sense to buy, or to rent? Here is the way to find out for sure."

"Why rent if you could buy for less money? Valid reasons inside."

A lender does not look at your real expenses. They may offer more mortgage than you can actually afford. Once you find your real monthly number then ask a lender what you can qualify for (may be more, may be less) and do not go higher than what you know is safe for you.
"How to determine what you can safely afford to pay towards your monthly mortgage payment. Lenders may give a different number. "

This shows the basic home buying process.
"Its your first home and you are looking for something but are not sure where to start to look or about loans."

This gives some real world examples of how you can create a nice down payment by making choices and sacrificing to meet them.
"How do I get a down payment to buy a house? The ideas below worked well for me. They could help you also."

This gives some ideas to consider to avoid buying a money pit.
"What should I watch out for when choosing a home to buy so that I don't jump into a money pit?"

If you can not buy now but will be able to in time this gives some solid ideas to follow to be better able to buy a house in the future.
"I want to buy a house. It will be at least one year before I am ready to buy. What should I do now to prepare myself?"

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October 11 2011
Profile picture for SoCal_Engr
Begin by developing a financial plan and learning about mortgages, home ownership, and associated costs. You don't need to become an expert, but there's a lot of information available for you to build a knowledge base from.

While lenders and REAs are also potentially good sources of information, remember that both stand to make money off of you - but only if you buy. So, do a bit of self-education to calibrate your BS-detector before engaging either.

Personally, the fact that you are starting by looking for programs to help with down and closing is a bit of an alarm bell. Home ownership is a significant financial obligation, and that obligation can be a nightmare unless it is part of a bigger picture/plan.

So....

1 - Develop a financial plan, and figure out where home ownership fits into it.
2 - Do some self-education on the various mortgage products, DTI, LTV, etc. Not necessary to become an expert, but just so that you have a base to work from.
3 - Do some self-education on the overall RE process. Take some time to get a general feel for your locale, as well as what you want-v-need.

After you've done 1, 2 and 3 (shouldn't take long), engage some lenders and REAs to add more info - and then decide how you want to procede.
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October 11 2011
Some areas have loan programs.  It is best to check with a loan officer after you have selected a Realtor to work with.  The loan officer can better inform you of down payment programs.  Once you have your pre approval letter from the lender, your Realtor will show you properties within that price range.
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October 11 2011
If you do a search on Zillow for homes in your area, there will be some real estate agents profiles to the right of the screen.  These agents are agents that work in your specific area.  Click on the contact an agent and ask that question to them, I'm sure they will know the perfect lender that will be able to explain all programs that are available for your situation.  Lenders are a great place to start, they will give you all the guidance you need.  Good luck!
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October 11 2011
I would start with a reputable lender and/ or even your local housing authority.  Be sure to ask about federal and state programs.  Some places even have more local help for specific towns or cities and neighborhoods.  Some employers give will match closing assistance too. 
Good luck!
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October 11 2011
Try beginning with a local real estate agent who should know about the your area's grant programs etc.
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October 11 2011
 
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