Your credit score is an important factor in getting a home loan—and how much it will cost you. For conventional loans, required minimum credit scores range from 620 to 640, depending on the loan and the lender. Some loans backed by the U.S. government have lower minimum credit score requirements. For example, FHA-insured loans accept credit scores as low as 500, and VA-insured have no minimum requirements.
On average it takes 49 days to close on a mortgage. But that’s just part of the process. There are preliminary steps to take, such as checking your credit and reviewing your finances. You’ll also need time to find and hire an agent or realtor, shop for a home to buy, and compare offers from lenders.
There are actually two parts to this question. First, you’ll need cash to cover the down payment. To avoid private mortgage insurance, that should be at least 20% of the purchase price, although you can certainly pay less. The average down payment is right around 6% of the price for first-time buyers, and some lenders accept down payments as low as 3.5%. Next, some lenders will also expect you to have several months of cash reserves—savings, investments, retirement accounts—that you can draw on for your mortgage and other expenses if you need to.
Home prices and inventory vary by the season, the week, and even the day of purchase. If you want the widest array of options to choose from, shop during late spring and early summer. That’s when inventory is at its peak. But if you’re looking for the best deal, shop in winter. You’ll have fewer homes to choose from, but there’ll be fewer buyers to compete with, while sellers are more eager to sell.
An annual percentage rate (APR) is the interest rate you pay each year on a loan, credit card, or other line of credit. It’s represented as a percentage of the total balance you have to pay.
A real estate appraisal establishes a property's market value—the likely sales price it would bring if offered in an open and competitive real estate market. Lenders require appraisals when buyers use their new homes as security for their mortgages.
Closing costs include payments to a variety of people and organizations for services during the homebuying process. Standard closing costs might range from 2%-5% of your home’s purchase price. But that depends on where you live, the property you’re buying, and more.
A Realtor can be a real estate agent, a broker-associate, a managing broker, or an exclusive buyer's agent, and this is just the beginning of the list. What sets them apart is that they must subscribe to the Realtor Code of Ethics for membership, and this includes 17 separate articles that contain various underlying Standards of Practice.
An easement is one person's right to use land for a certain purpose when it is owned by someone else. If there is an easement on your land, the property is yours, but other people can use it or access it. It all depends on the terms.
An encumbrance is any legal thing that burdens or restricts usage or transfer of a property. An encumbrance can be a mortgage, a lien (voluntary or involuntary), an easement, or a restriction limiting the transfer of a title. A property free-and-clear of any encumbrances is rare.
Real property, often also called “real estate,” is land plus any other tangible improvement that might rest upon it or be installed on it.
Earnest money is a deposit a buyer gives to a home seller to show that the buyer is serious about purchasing the property. Also called a “good-faith deposit,” earnest money accompanies an offer to buy a house.
A loan estimate is a form a lender issues to a loan applicant after they apply for a mortgage, to communicate how much the applicant can expect to pay for the loan if both parties agree to move forward with it.
The right of rescission is your legal right to cancel some home loan agreements without any financial penalties as long as it’s done within three days of signing. The right of rescission is only good for some types of loans and doesn’t include new home purchase loans.
A multiple listing service (MLS) is a database of broker-listed homes. Only real estate agents and other professional affiliates can access an MLS.
A real estate purchase contract is a binding agreement, usually between two parties, for the transfer of a home or other property. The parties must both have the legal capacity to make the purchase, exchange, or other conveyance of the real property in question, and the contract is based on a legal consideration, which is whatever is being exchanged for the real estate.
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