Are You Ready To Buy

Dated: 04/30/2019

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5 Tips For First Time Home Buyers - Avoid Paying Too Much For a Mortgage

Our content is free because we may earn a commission when you click or make a purchase using our site.Learn more.William SlusserOct 8, 2018

10 Best Mortgage Rates of 2019


Home ownership is a core component in establishing and living the American Dream. For most people, the ambition to acquire their own home is their most important goal, surpassing all others, and it is the primary influence and motivation for how they conduct their business, financial, and personal lives.

Most people will have to finance their home ownership by obtaining a home mortgage from a lending institution. The purpose of this article is to guide a potential homeowner through all the steps that must be taken in order to qualify for a home mortgage loan.


Before a prospective homeowner can begin the quest towards purchasing a home, there are many factors to consider, most of which are determined by some basic facts and assumptions. 

How big is your family? What neighborhoods are you willing to consider? 

Are schools a factor? Is a single-family home a requirement or is a condo an option? 

Based on your income and assets, what kind of home can you afford?

For some home buyers, living in a specific neighborhood takes precedence above all else, whereas for others, the home itself is more important. In a perfect world, you’d find the ideal home, in your neighborhood of choice, at a price you can afford, but realistically, most people will have to make some compromises.

Make a list of the features you want in a home– the number of bedrooms, a fenced yard, granite countertops, a garage, etc.–and then rank them in terms of priorities. Decide whether the house or the neighborhood matters more to you, or whether you’re willing to make a longer commute in order to own a home with a larger lot. 

These kinds of decisions need to be made before beginning the search for your new home. is a great resource to view estimated home values, school information, crime stats, and other important considerations. 

But don't place too much value on their "estimate" because often real-world prices are different. 


Nearly all mortgage loans and lenders require some amount of cash as a down payment. The amount you've set aside for this will determine the kind of mortgage you qualify for. It will also impact how much you can afford to borrow for a home.

Consider Down Payment Assistance

If you're searching for "how to buy a house" you've probably already put away some savings so onward to step 3.

But it’s important to note there are more than 2,400 home buyer assistance programs in the United States that offer down payment help in the form of grants, low-interest or deferred loans, forgivable loans, and other programs. Help with closing costs is also available.


Consider Your Income

Many banks will require that your monthly costs can't exceed a percentage of your income (for example 28%). 

That means if you earn $50,000 per year, your total monthly housing costs should not exceed $1166 (28% of your monthly income). But it's more than just your income that the bank will look at...

Consider Your Debts

In addition to your income, if you have recurring debts, the total monthly payments on existing debt plus new payments for your mortgage may not be allowed to exceed a certain threshold (for example 41%).

Using the example above that would mean that if your monthly debt payments are in excess of $541 per month (bringing your total debt of $541 + $1166 = $1708 or 41% in total) 

Consider The Down Payment

Most lenders prefer a down payment of 20% or higher to qualify for a conventional loan, but there are loan options where you can put down less. 

However, you should be aware that with a smaller down payment, you’ll likely be required to pay for mortgage insurance, and your loan application will be subject to greater scrutiny.

Here are several loan types that allow a smaller down payment amount:

FHA: The Federal Housing Administration offers 3.5% down payment mortgages through participating lenders. FHA loans are also easier to qualify for and have slightly lower rates than conventional mortgages.

GSE-backed loans: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are both currently insuring 97% loan-to-value loans. That enables lenders to offer 3% down payment mortgages to qualified buyers.

USDA: Home buyers in rural and suburban areas may be able to qualify for home loans offered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. USDA loans offer low rates and 100% financing.

VA: Eligible veterans and their spouses can qualify for Veterans Administration loans. See if you qualify for a VA Loan with $0 Down and no mortgage insurance from our partner Veterans United. 

There are all kinds of online calculators that can help you determine what your down payment amount will be based on the type of loan, the price of your house, your location, and credit rating. 

But if you don't want to do all the math yourself, you might simply move on to step 4 which is arguably the most common step people skip!


One of the number 1 mistakes made by home buyers is NOT shopping around for a mortgage! Your Realtor knows a guy, or maybe your parents used a mortgage broker in the past. 

Don't fall into this trap. It can take some time, but you're going to have your mortgage for the next 30 years, so it's really worth prioritizing. 

Also, don't assume you can shop one mortgage lender today and another one next week. There is market volatility in the mortgage market so you really need to sit down and get ready to contact a few banks. If you do it now, odds are good you can lock in your rate for a while.

To expedite this process, LendingTree allows multiple banks to compete for your business.

Once you set aside some time to make a few inquiries, tell the truth. Mortgage quotes can vary based on your down payment, credit history, income, assets, and debt. 

Fill out the form with honest information to get a reliable quote. They're going to verify this information anyway so putting in misinformation won't help you at all in the long term.

Qualifying for a mortgage loan in order to buy a home can often be a stressful and strenuous process. In the end, the pride, security, comfort, and freedom that comes from owning your own home makes all the effort worthwhile.


By this point, you should have a pretty good idea about what kind of home you’re looking for, and the neighborhood you’d like to live in. 

You also know how much you've saved for a down payment, which in turn will determine the type of loan you should pursue. If you've compared a few rates you should request a pre-qualification letter.

Getting Approved

Quicken Loans offers what they call  "verified approval" after they verify your income, assets and credit which can give you the same strength of a cash buyer. 

In today’s competitive housing market, it is not uncommon for a seller to receive multiple offers on their home. Having a pre-qualification letter in hand could be the difference in your ability to purchase the house you desire. It proves to the seller that you are serious and provides you with bargaining power which could give you an advantage over other buyers.

Locking Your Rate

RateShield approval (also offered by Quicken Loans) can lock your rate for up to 90 days while you find your new home. 

What's so powerful about RateShield is that in today's market, interest rates may change between now and when you are ready to close on your home.

If you received a verified approval with Rateshield from Quicken Loans, then once you've found your new house, if rates are up, your rate stays the same. If rates have dropped, you automatically get that new rate. Either way you win!


Compare Mortgage Rates in Your Area Get Pre-Qualified with Local LendersSelect your state below VTNHMARICTNJDEMDDC Enter your zipcode  Find My Rate

10 Best Mortgage Rates of 2019


Top Rated Mortgage Rates

1 Quicken Loans Mortgage Our Partner Read Full Review13 Reviews

  • Only Lender to Offer "RateShield" - Get their Best Rate Available 1

  • Industry leading online tools & award-winning customer service

  • Get a Pre-Authorization Letter to Buy a Home

  • Quicken Loans is the largest online mortgage lender in the U.S. 2

  • See Today's Rate & Get the Best Rate in a 90 Day Period  --->

SEE QUICKEN LOANS DEAL >VIEW RATES > 2 LendingTree Mortgage Our Partner Read Full Review9 Reviews

  • Rates as low as 3.125% APR (for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages)

  • Compare quotes from up to 5 lenders in minutes, free of cost

  • Save time, view offers online, and get your free credit score

  • Take advantage of their extensive customer education section

  • More than 40 Million customers served

SEE LENDINGTREE DEAL >VIEW RATES > 3 JG Wentworth Our Partner Read Full Review2 Reviews

  • Low mortgage rates

  • No points and no hidden fees

  • A wide variety of mortgage programs

  • Ranked #1 for Customer Satisfaction on LendingTree

  • A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau

  • Only for homeowners with a 620+ credit score

  • Not available in NY, NV or HI 


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Jackie Carroll

I was born and raised in Marion SC. My husband and I both graduated from Pee Dee Academy, dated after college and married. Our family moved to Aynor SC in 2005. We have raised three wonderful young me....

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