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Houston home buying broke records in 2018. More than 82,000 homes were sold in the Houston area with a combined value of $28 billion — that’s more than 20 percent from 2017. Many people are making that leap from renting to buying their first home this year.

Branch manager at Caliber Home Loans, Chris Thacker shares great tips every homebuyer should know before landing a deal on their first home.

  1. Find a trustworthy and responsive mortgage lender. Many first time homebuyers make the mistake of only talking to one lender or bank The more you shop around, the better basis for comparison you’ll have to ensure you’re getting a good deal. Shop around with at least three different lenders Compare rates, lender fee and loan terms.
  2. Hire an experienced real estate agent. As a buyer, it costs you nothing to work with a realtor, but they can save alot of time, hassle and money. Research the market and find a realtor who specializes in the neighborhoods you’re interested in.
  3. Take care of your credit. Keep tabs on your credit before and during the home buying process. Lenders pull credit reports at preapproval to make sure things check out again just before closing.
  4. Buy a house you CAN afford. Don’t let emotions get in the way or allow yourself to be pressured to buy. Have a budget and stick to it. Focus on what monthly payment you can afford rather than fixating on the maximum loan amount you qualify for. Factor in those “hidden costs” of home ownership.
  5. Don’t drain your savings to make 20% down payment. The median down payment on a home is 13 percent, according to the National Association of Realtors. Homebuyers who put 20% or more down don’t have to pay for mortgage insurance when getting a conventional mortgage. But that savings is not worth the risk of living on the edge from draining your savings account. You can put as little as 3 percent down for a conventional mortgage. Keep 3-6 months of living expenses in an emergency fund.
  6. Enjoy the process. Being a first-time homebuyer can be intimidating. It’s the biggest purchase you’ll ever make, but it doesn’t have to be stressful if you plan. First-time home buyers often make the mistake of not planning far enough ahead and rushing the home buying process. Map out your home-buying timeline at least a year in advance. Keep in mind it can take months or years to repair poor credit and save enough for a sizable down payment. Make a list of your wants and needs in a home. Don’t compromise on your needs but be flexible on the things you “want”. Know that this may be your first home, but it won’t likely be the last home you’ll buy in your lifetime.