SEATTLE — For most people buying a home is the largest purchase they'll ever make. That can mean stress on their budget, long term planning for structuring a mortgage and much more. Experts in the business say advanced prep work goes a long way toward success.
Sterling Roszel from Credit Union Home Mortgage Solutions thinks the market is better for buyers now than it was two years ago. "People were having bidding wars, but now we're seeing agents able to negotiate closing costs." Roszel sees an uptick in home buying throughout the Greater Puget Sound area as people move closer to the Link light rail and the Sounder train, and look for more "bang for their buck."
Although the market is good for buyers, many first-time buyers are still hesitant about the process. "It's a big deal to buy a house, it's a huge payment, probably the largest you'll have, and a very complicated process," said Lisa Stirgus from Harborstone Credit Union. Stirgus points out many people can get spend less on down payments than they imagine with first-time buyer programs.
Stirgus explains first-time buyer programs aren't just for people with bad credit or have run into financial trouble. "It's for everybody who's willing to go through a workshop, learn how to buy a home responsibly, learn how to build a spending plan so you can pay responsibly, then you're available for these types of programs."
Roszel recommends making sure you have the right resources available to you when you begin the home buying process. "You really want to get your lender involved from the very get-go, a lot of people aren't aware as to how many resources your lender will make available to you." Compare rates and shop around for different lenders before you choose one.
Buyers can also turn to credit unions for help. "We're really here just to help our members get into their first home," Roszel explained. Roszel encourages new buyers to go to a home-buying seminar so they can feel more confident about the process, and understand that they can rely on their lender and their real-estate agent for support.
Stirgus acknowledges people can look for information on their own, but they won't receive the same level of support they could get with a credit union. "We're passionate about being your advocate who is coming from a space of empathy, knowing what the roadblocks are so we can help you prepare for them," Stirgus said. "We try to be the person who is side-by-side with you every step of the way."