Lea Cohen | Brookline Real Estate, Newton Real Estate, West Roxbury Real Estate


If you’re a first time homebuyer and want to start weighing your mortgage options, you’ll have much to learn. With so much at stake, you’ll want to make sure you choose the best mortgage for you now, and one that will still suit your needs years into the future.

Sometimes, first time buyers are hesitant to ask questions they may consider too basic because they don’t want to seem inexperienced to lenders, agents, or anyone else they’ll be in contact with throughout the home buying process.

So, in this article, we’ve compiled a list of commonly asked mortgage questions that first time buyers might want to ask before heading into the process of acquiring a home loan.

What is the first step to getting a mortgage?

This question may seem straightforward, however the first step can vary depending on your financial situation. For those who already have saved up for a down payment and built a solid credit score, the first step is probably contacting lenders and getting preapproved or prequalified.

However, if you aren’t sure about your credit score and haven’t saved up for a down payment (ideally, 20% of what you hope to spend on the house), then you should address those matters first.

To find a lender, you can do a simple Google search for the mortgage lenders in your area, or you can ask around to friends and family to find out their experience with their own mortgage lenders.

What does it mean to be pre-qualified and pre-approved?

If you think of the mortgage process in three steps, the first step would be getting pre-qualified. This means you’ve given the lender enough basic information for them to decide which type of mortgage you’re eligible to receive.

Pre-approval includes collecting and verifying further details. At this step, you’ll complete a mortgage application and the lender will run a credit check. Once you’re pre-approved, your file can be moved to the underwriting phase.

What are closing costs?

“Closing costs” is an umbrella term that covers all of the various fees and expenses related to buying or selling a home. As a buyer, you are responsible for paying numerous closing costs. These can include, but are not limited to, underwriting fees, title searches, title insurance,  origination fees, taxes, appraisal fees, surveys, and more.

That sounds like a lot to keep track of, however your lender will be able to give you an accurate estimate of the total closing costs when you apply for your loan. In fact, lenders are required to give you a list of these costs within three days of your loan application in the form of a “good faith estimate” of the closing costs.

What will my interest rate be?

The answer to this question is dependent upon numerous factors. The value of the home, your credit score, the amount you put down (down payment), the type of mortgage you have, and whether or not you’re paying private mortgage insurance all factor into the interest rate you’ll receive. Interest rates also will vary slightly between lenders.

You can receive a fixed-rate mortgage that does not fluctuate throughout the repayment term. However, you also typically have the option to refinance to acquire a lower interest rate, however refinancing comes with its own costs.


For those who want to enjoy a seamless homebuying experience, it helps to prepare accordingly. That way, you will be ready to identify and address any hurdles that come your way during the homebuying journey.

Ultimately, there are lots of things you can do to avoid a complex homebuying journey, such as:

1. Establish Homebuying Criteria

If you enter the housing market with homebuying criteria in hand, you can search for residences that match your expectations. Best of all, you may be better equipped than ever before to streamline your quest to find and acquire your dream home.

To craft homebuying criteria, think about what you require from a house. For instance, if you need a home that is located near your office in the city, you can hone your house search to residences in or near the city itself. On the other hand, if you want a home that offers two or more bedrooms, you can search for a house that provides the space you need.

You may want to create a list of home must-haves, too. This list may help you simultaneously narrow your home search and speed up the homebuying journey.

2. Know Your Homebuying Budget

There is no need to focus on homes that fall outside your price range. Instead, develop a homebuying budget, and you can avoid the risk of wasting time pursuing a house that you are unable to afford.

Oftentimes, it helps to meet with banks and credit unions before you launch a home search. These financial institutions can teach you about different home financing options so you can develop an effective property buying budget.

Banks and credit unions can help you get pre-approved for a mortgage as well. Once you have a mortgage in hand, you will know precisely how much you can spend to acquire your ideal residence.

3. Collaborate with a Real Estate Agent

Let's face it – no one wants to encounter roadblocks during the homebuying journey. Fortunately, real estate agents are available in cities and towns nationwide, and these homebuying experts are happy to help you achieve your desired results.

A real estate agent can offer comprehensive insights into the homebuying journey. He or she also can help you conduct an in-depth home search, set up house showings and much more.

In addition, a real estate agent understands the challenges associated with buying a house. He or she will help you alleviate stress throughout the homebuying journey and ensure you can make informed decisions along the way. Plus, a real estate agent is ready to provide homebuying recommendations and suggestions at your request.

When it comes to navigating the homebuying journey, you may want to start planning today. Thanks to the aforementioned tips, you can map out a successful homebuying journey. And as a result, you can boost the likelihood of purchasing a house that will serve you well both now and in the future.


Buying your first home is undoubtedly a long and complex process for someone who has little to no experience in the subject. Your average first-time homeowner learns as they go, with the help of their real estate agent and mortgage lender.

But, even so, first-time buyers often make many mistakes along the way that they could have avoided with prior knowledge and preparation.

In today’s article, we’re going to cover 5 of the most common mistakes that first-time homebuyers make when purchasing a home. From the first house you look at up until closing on your first home, we’ll cover common mistakes from each step of the way to give you the knowledge you need to make the best home buying decisions.

1. Shopping for homes preemptively

Once you decide that you’re interested in potentially buying a home in the near future, it’s tempting to hop online and start looking at listings. But, searching for your dream home at this stage is a poor use of your time.

It’s best to use this time to start thinking about the bigger picture. Have you secured financial aspects of owning a home, such as a down payment, a solid credit score, and two years of steady employment history?

You’ll also need to have a clear picture of what you want your life to look like for the next 5-7 years. Will you still want to live in the same area, or will your job lead you elsewhere?

These are all questions to ask yourself before you start house hunting that will inform your process along the way and make your hunt a lot easier.

2. Not knowing your budget

It’s a common mistake for first-time buyers to go into the house hunting process without a clearly mapped budget. You want to make sure that after all of your expenses (mortgage payment, utilities, bills, debt, etc.) that you still have leftover income for savings, retirement, and an emergency fund.

Make a detailed spreadsheet of your expenses and determine how much you can afford each month before you start shopping for mortgages.

3. Borrowing the maximum amount

While it may be tempting to buy the most expensive house you can get approved for, there are a number of reasons this might be a bad idea for you, financially. Stretching your budget each month is putting yourself at risk for not being able to contribute to savings, retirement, and emergency funds.

Furthermore, you may find that the extra square-footage you purchased wasn’t worth having to cut corners in other areas of your life, like hobbies, entertainment, and dining out.

4. Forgetting important expenses

If you’re currently renting an apartment, you might be unaware of some of the lesser-known costs of homeownership. Your chosen lender will provide you with an estimate of the closing costs, which you’ll have to budget for.

However, there are also maintenance, repairs, utilities, and other bills that you’ll have to figure into your monthly budget.

5. Waiving contingencies or giving the benefit of the doubt

While it may seem like an act of goodwill to give the seller the benefit of the doubt when it comes to things like home inspections, it’s usually a bad idea to waive contingencies.

The process of purchasing a home, along with a purchase contract, have been designed to protect both your interests and the seller’s interests. It isn’t selfish to want to know exactly what you’re getting into when making a purchase as significant as a home.


Let's face it – all homebuyers want to enjoy a fast, successful property buying experience. Yet transforming this vision into a reality can be difficult for first-time and experienced property buyers alike. Lucky for you, we're here to help you streamline the homebuying journey.

Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you enjoy a seamless homebuying experience.

1. Understand the Challenges Associated with Pursuing a Home

Planning ahead for the homebuying journey generally is a good idea. That way, you can identify potential homebuying hurdles and resolve these issues before they escalate.

Oftentimes, it helps to craft a homebuying strategy. This plan enables you to map out each stage of the homebuying journey, and by doing so, prepare for any challenges that may come your way.

You also may want to create a list of homebuying criteria. This list will make it simple to narrow your house search, and as a result, ensure you can discover your ideal residence without delay.

2. Get Your Finances in Order

You know you want to purchase a house, but you still have no idea about how you will pay for a residence. Fortunately, if you get pre-approved for a mortgage, you can enter the real estate market with your finances in order.

To get pre-approved for a mortgage, you should meet with banks and credit unions. These financial institutions can explain the differences between fixed- and adjustable-rate mortgages and help you determine which mortgage option best suits your individual needs.

Furthermore, you should review all of your mortgage options closely. Because if you understand your mortgage options, you can make an informed mortgage selection that will serve you well for years to come.

3. Hire an Expert Real Estate Agent

If you want to simplify the homebuying journey, you should hire an expert real estate agent. In fact, with an expert real estate agent at your side, you can get the help you need to quickly and effortlessly make your homeownership dream come true.

A real estate agent is a homebuying professional who is happy to share his or her expertise with you. Therefore, if you have any concerns or questions during the homebuying journey, a real estate agent can respond to them immediately. And if you are uncertain about how to proceed at any point during the homebuying journey, a real estate agent can offer data-driven recommendations as well.

Let's not forget about the assistance that a real estate agent can provide when you decide to submit an offer to purchase a home too. At this time, a real estate agent will help you put together a competitive homebuying proposal. And if your offer is accepted, a real estate agent will help you finalize your house purchase. Or, if your proposal is rejected, a real estate agent will help you reenter the real estate market.

Take the guesswork out of acquiring your dream house – use the aforementioned tips, and you can boost the likelihood of enjoying a fast, successful property buying experience.


If you find your dream house, you likely want to submit an offer to purchase this residence as soon as possible. That way, you can avoid the danger of losing your ideal residence to a rival homebuyer.

Although you may strive to quickly submit an offer to purchase your dream residence, it is important to allocate sufficient time to craft a competitive homebuying proposal. Ultimately, there are many reasons to be diligent as you prepare an offer to purchase, and these include:

1. You can avoid the risk of overpaying to acquire your dream house.

You want to buy your dream house, but at the same time, you don't want to pay too much for it. Fortunately, if you allocate time and resources to learn about a home's condition and the current state of the real estate market, you may be better equipped than ever before to submit a competitive offer to purchase.

Analyze a house's condition closely as you put together a property buying proposal. It often is beneficial to consider any potential home improvement projects as well.

Also, take a look at the prices of comparable houses in the same city or town as your dream residence. With this housing market data in hand, you can establish a price range for homes that are similar to your dream residence. Then, you can submit an offer to purchase that accounts for the present state of the housing market.

2. You can submit an offer to purchase that falls in line with a seller's expectations.

It usually is beneficial to consider the seller's perspective as you put together an offer to purchase. By doing so, you can craft a homebuying proposal that falls in line with a seller's expectations.

If you think about the seller's perspective, you may be able to avoid submitting a "lowball" offer to purchase. Because if you understand how a seller may perceive your homebuying proposal, you can submit a competitive offer to purchase that likely will make a positive impression on him or her.

3. You can increase the likelihood of receiving an instant "Yes" from a seller.

With a competitive offer to purchase, a seller may respond with an instant "Yes." As a result, if you craft a competitive homebuying proposal, you may be able to move forward with a home purchase and quickly acquire your dream residence.

As you navigate the real estate market and prepare an offer to purchase your dream house, you may want to work with a real estate agent. This housing market professional can offer honest, unbiased recommendations about how much you should offer to pay for a residence. And if your homebuying proposal is accepted, a real estate agent will help you finalize your house purchase too.

Ready to make your homeownership dream come true? Collaborate with a real estate agent, and you can get the help you need to find your dream home and submit a competitive offer to purchase this residence.




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