Buying your first home . . .

Even If You Don't Know Where to Start!

Don't be daunted by the leap into unknown waters! Buying a home for the first time may seem like an overwhelming process, especially when you have no idea where to start, but that's why we're here for you. Learn more about the process of obtaining a mortgage, finding the perfect home, and making an offer, and you'll be on your way to owning your very own home in Louisiana!

What is your WHY? 

Why would you like to buy a home? 

Understanding Your Mortgage

First and foremost, let's talk about mortgages. Most buyers need one, and there are a lot of options that vary greatly from lender to lender and from buyer to buyer. This means it's important to understand what you're looking for and talk to a lot of different lenders to ensure you're getting the best deal possible.

Types of Mortgages

There are four basic types of mortgages used by the majority of home buyers.

Conventional Mortgage:

This is the standard loan used by buyers with good to excellent credit who make down payments of at least 10%. However, there are programs that offer options for lower down payments based on buyer credit and location.

FHA Mortgage:

These loans often apply to buyers with lower credit scores, as they offer a down payment as low as 3.5% and lower interest rates. However, FHA mortgages do also require mortgage insurance premiums, which can result in higher overall costs.

VA Mortgage:

All veterans and active military members qualify for VA loans. These offer up to 100% financing, simplified loan approvals, and lower interest rates. They can be much lower than conventional loans.

USDA Mortgage:
These loans are available to buyers in rural or low-density areas and offer up to 100% financing and below-market interest rates. Their ideal buyers are of average means, have lower credit scores, and are buying modest homes. Additionally, because of the government's loose definition of the term "rural," some of the buyers in the smaller communities surrounding Louisiana will qualify for this loan.

What Do Mortgages Include?

There are four main components to a mortgage payment, often abbreviated as "PITI."

Principal:

This is the repayment of the initial amount you borrowed from your lender (in other words, the price of your home).

Interest:

This is a payment to the lender for the money borrowed (and is then added on to the initial price of your home).

Taxes:

Your annual city and county taxes assessed on your property are divided by the number of mortgage payments you make in a year and added into your mortgage.

Insurance:

Your monthly homeowner's insurance payment covers you against various hazards and is added to your mortgage payment.

Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI): 

PMI is the lender's protection in the event you default on your primary mortgage and the home goes into foreclosure. When applying for a home loan, lenders typically require that a borrower provides a 20% down payment of the property's purchase price. If the borrower is unable to do so, lenders will typically look at the loan as a risker investment and will require the borrower to pay PMI. 

Selecting the best fit loan program based on affordability. 

Now that you know what loan options are available to you, what you can expect to pay as a down payment, and what your likely interest rates will be, it's time to determine how much you can afford to pay every month, which will then be used to calculate the price range of your home.

Keep in mind that your mortgage costs will be based both on the price of the home and the CURRENT interest rates. A home's affordability can vary from one day to the next based on the current rates.


Finding a Real Estate Agent in Louisiana

You don't have to work with an agent - but it is extremely recommended unless you are a highly experienced buyer or lawyer. Your agent should be someone you know you can trust, an expert in real estate in your area and neighborhood, and very proficient in working with buyers of your experience.


Shopping Homes for Sale in Louisiana

Now it's time for the fun part! You get to start shopping! This is where you get to decide exactly what you want and need in a home, from the type of house to the location of the neighborhood to all the exciting interior and exterior amenities you just have to have! Make sure you keep detailed records of the homes you visit, noting things you liked, didn't like, pros and cons, etc. Taking pictures can also help keep your memory fresh.

Tip: Before you start touring homes, determine the actual selling price of homes in your preferred neighborhoods - not just their listing price - to get a better idea of the actual affordability of the location.


Making an Offer

You found the perfect house, and now it's time for your and your agent to sit down and discuss your offer. It's important to work together to determine a price you can comfortably afford but will also be a realistic offer for the seller to accept and will not be dismissed against any competing offers the seller might receive.

Fees associated with your purchase.

Earnest Money Deposit:

Think of this as your security deposit. It is paid when you submit your offer to show the seller that you are serious. When your offer is accepted, it is held in the listing agent's broker escrow account or in the title company's escrow account. It will be credited towards your closing cost and/or down payment at closing. 

Inspection Fee:

The inspection fee typically range from $300-$450, depending on the size of the home. This is paid directly to the inspector at the time of service. The inspection is done within 10 days of accepted contract. 

Appraisal Fee:

The appraisal is done after the inspection is complete and any requested repairs are negotiated. The cost of the appraisal is typically $500-$650, but depends on the type of loan. 

Down Payment:

This is determined by your loan, or possibly any government programs or assistance you have requested.

Closing Cost:

These are typical low for the buyers (as majority is paid for by the Seller) and represent the fees associated with title service, lender fees, and pre-paids. 

Requesting a Home Inspection

If the seller accepts your offer, it's time for a home inspection. Before you close, you'll want to have an experienced professional walk the house to ensure that there aren't any lingering problems or maintenance issues that might not be visible at first glance. You don't want to be hit with a serious maintenance or structural issue right after you move in. If necessary, you can request that the seller repair any issues you find.


Preparing for Closing

Finalize Your Mortgage Loan

Work with your chosen lender to submit your mortgage application, have your home appraised, and review predicted closing costs. There are many costs commonly associated with closing, including lender fees, attorney fees, title insurance, courier fees, government recording fees, and property taxes.
Sign, Pay, Close, and get your keys to your NEW HOME!

Meet with your title attorney, agent, lender, and the seller to finalize the paperwork, and pay your down payment and closing costs. Finally - the keys to your new home!


Still Have Questions About Buying Your First Home in Louisiana?

We bet you do! Buying your first home is no simple process, and though we have tried to provide as many important details as possible, there's still much to ask and learn. So don't wait - contact us today and ask away! Want to do some more reading? We have plenty of resources to help you out. Learn more about buying a home today!

Louisiana Home Buying Resources


Questions? Just Ask!

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