Lenders there to help first-time homebuyers

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Russell Lee, vice president and mortgage lender at Bank Plus, goes through the list of recommended paperwork to bring for the first meeting with a lender.

Russell Lee, vice president and mortgage lender at Bank Plus, goes through the list of recommended paperwork to bring for the first meeting with a lender.

By Taylor Welsh
Picayune Item

Buying a home for the first time may seem like a daunting and complicated process for the uninitiated, but local lenders are available to demystify the steps involved.
Audrey Spiers, assistant vice president and mortgage loan originator at First National Bank of Picayune said, “there is a simpler process that is almost tailored to first-time homeowners.”
Bank Plus Vice President and Community Banker Mortgage Lender Russell Lee said, “no one should be intimidated by this process. We are here to help you through every step and make sure the process is smooth and safe.”
Spiers said the first thing to avoid when purchasing a home is making other big purchases. That includes a new car, more land and even furniture to compliment the new house.
“I get this all the time where people are so excited about buying a new house that during the process, they go out and purchase all the furniture for the house before even closing the sale,” said Spiers. “Everything goes a lot smoother if you just wait until after the process to make purchases such as that.”
Spiers said it’s best to avoid debt during the home buying process because more questions will be asked and the process will have to almost start completely over.
Prospective homeowners should pre-qualify for a loan. Spiers said this process involves checking credit scores, household income and filling out paperwork.
To make applying for a conventional loan easier, lenders will need paystubs from the most recent 30 days, the employer’s human resource department phone number, two months of recent checking, savings and investment bank statements, the previous two year’s W-2 and 1040 documents and a copy of each borrower’s driver’s license, said Lee. By having this documentation together, Lee said the process will be a lot easier for everyone.
Spiers said there are certain loan programs that, while not specifically designed for first-time buyers, they are almost tailored-made for their needs. One of those programs is a USDA 100 percent financing loan.
Lee recommends the USDA loan for first-time homeowners because it does not require a down payment. Current and former members of the U.S. military can apply for a VA loan.
Prospective homeowners should also determine how much they can afford to spend on a home.
“If you are transitioning from renting to wanting to own a home, I recommend taking the amount you pay for rent and adding a little more to it,” said Spiers.
But typically, the budget is what the buyer is comfortable with. Through her experience, she has seen people who could afford a monthly note of $1,500, but were comfortable with $800.
“We can point them in the right direction but it is all up to what they are comfortable with. Once they figure that out, then we can move through the process smoother,” said Spiers.
Once a comfortable budget is established, the next step is to look for the best interest rate.
Current interest rates are at their lowest in years, with government loan rates at 3.25 percent on a 30-year rate and conventional loans at 3.75 percent on a 30-year conventional loan.
Spiers said that preparation can make closing on the home easier.
“When closing the sale, it makes the process easier for everyone if we can get as much information as we can before it goes to underwriting,” said Spiers.
The average closing cost is around $5,000 depending on the loan size and taxes, Spiers said.
Both Lee and Spiers recommend first time homebuyers to be aware of their credit score, educate themselves about the closing process and avoid stress because lenders are there to help.

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