You don’t need to put 20% down

These lenders offer low-down-payment or no-down-payment options:

  • VA loans: 0% down* 

  • USDA loans: 0% down

  • FHA loan: 3.5% down

  • Some conventional loans: 3% down


*Must be a veteran or veteran’s spouse

… But you do need to put any new credit line plans on hold

Your mortgage rate and ability to secure a mortgage will depend on your credit score — ideally, at least 580, if not higher.


You’re not locked into one particular lender

Talk to a few different mortgage brokers and ask them what their best deal is.

Your monthly mortgage payment includes more than just the loan payback


The monthly payment includes:

  • Your loan principal — the amount of money you borrowed

  • Your loan interest

  • Taxes

  • Insurance

  • Private mortgage insurance (PMI) if you put less than 20% down


… So the mortgage amount online is not necessarily accurate

Don’t just use the online calculators and think you know what you can afford — talk to an expert.


School districts are important even without kids

Homes in neighborhoods with good schools tend to appreciate in value more quickly, and those values stay more stable over time.


You don’t need to spend your entire preapproval amount

Financial experts suggest that you spend no more than 30% of your household income on your mortgage. Don’t overextend yourself!


You’ll look at homes out of your price range

You will not be able to refrain from looking at homes just above your ideal price range. Look if you must, but don’t let it influence your decision-making.


You may get outbid, more than once

Sellers often opt for cash buyers because the closing process is less cumbersome. Stay strong and have faith that your house is out there.


Agents get paid on commission

  • Your real estate agent will guide you through the homebuying process.

  • When you reach the closing table and the house is yours, the seller cuts your agent a check.

  • This is because agents are paid on commission — a percentage of the sale.


Talk to a contractor before closing

If the inspector finds issues, hire a contractor and go over the inspection report.


Speaking of closing: Introducing closing costs!

Closing costs can be picked up by the buyer, the seller, or both. They cost anywhere between 2% and 5% of the home’s purchase price and can include:

  • Title search

  • Title insurance

  • Escrow or closing services

  • Credit report fees

  • Notary services

  • Wire fees

  • Courier and delivery fees

  • Attorney fees

  • Recording fees

  • Local transfer taxes

  • Home protection plans

  • Natural hazard disclosure fees

  • Home inspection fees

  • Home appraisal fees

  • FHA mortgage insurance premium fee

  • Lender fees (application, underwriting, etc.)

  • HOA fees

  • Points purchase

  • Survey fees


Your mortgage will probably be sold to a servicer

Most lenders sell mortgage loans to a servicing company, which will be the entity collecting your payments. (Credit unions are the exception.)


Parking isn’t always guaranteed

If you live in a major metro area or have roommates or kids of driving age, you might struggle to find parking.


You’ll need to buy furniture

Your new home is going to need some new items to fill it — just don’t buy a bunch of furniture on credit before your loan closes.


You’re on the hook for any home repairs

Be aware that any systems that fail will be your responsibility to replace or fix, including:

  • The roof

  • The sewer line or septic tank

  • Drains and plumbing

  • The foundation

  • The electric system

  • The heating and cooling systems

  • The water heater

  • All major appliances


Those nearby empty lots won’t be empty forever

You cannot take it for granted that the rolling (empty) hills around your brand-new home are going to remain empty. Stop in at your city or county offices periodically and ask what they know about any development plans or zoning for the area.


It might take a while to feel like “home”

It may take a few weeks or even months before you start settling in and feeling like a homeowner.

This content is not the product of the National Association of REALTORS®, and may not reflect NAR's viewpoint or position on these topics and NAR does not verify the accuracy of the content.