Whether you are buying a property for the first time or not, the home buying process is one of the largest purchases you will ever make. The first step in what can feel like a daunting task is deciding what type of property you want and what is the right “fit" for you, your family and your lifestyle. Make a list of your absolute musts and a separate list of what you would like to have in your new home. I call this separating the "negotiables" from the "non-negotiables," which allows you to keep your criteria loose and your budget on track. Knowing what you're looking for will not only help you focus your search but will also help your real estate broker understand your needs so that he/she can best assist you in the process.

Second, it is important to obtain a pre-approval letter from a reputable mortgage broker or bank. This helps keep your property search in the correct price range as you consider different properties in different locations at different prices. It is important to note that beyond the cost of mortgage on a property comes the cost of taxes and Homeowner's Insurance, all of which should fit into your budget. Your first step in the process of buying a home is to determine how much you can afford to borrow. A basic rule of thumb is that a lender will look to see that your projected monthly mortgage payment be no more than 29% of your monthly gross income. For more help, use Fannie Mae's online mortgage calculator at

A real estate broker can help you understand the steps you will need to take when choosing the right mortgage program and can refer you to a reputable mortgage broker or service. Local governments also offer special home buying programs to help first-time home buyers and those in lower socioeconomic brackets. Get informed - you may be surprised to discover what you are eligible for.
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