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First-Time Homebuyer’s Guide for Quincy, IL

Posted on 8/2/2021 by Kyle Beckman

Are you ready to start your first-time homebuyer journey in Central Illinois? Figuring out how much house you can afford and what you need to do to buy a home can be daunting. We’re here to help with a comprehensive guide for buying a home in Quincy. From learning about the costs associated with buying your first home, to applying for a mortgage loan, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know.

How much house can I afford?

Before beginning your search for a home, consider the balance between your income and payment obligations to determine how large of a mortgage you may be able to obtain.

To answer this question, make a list of some financial facts:

  • Monthly net (after-tax) income for you and your partner/spouse if buying a house together
  • Liquid savings (exclude retirement and college savings accounts) account balances for any personal savings, money market, or CD accounts
  • Total monthly debt payments for credit cards, student loans, car loans, etc.
  • It is also important to consider property taxes:

Remember that your monthly mortgage payment consists not just of principal and interest on your loan, but also expenses your lender pays for you, such as property tax and homeowners insurance.

Luckily, property taxes in Quincy are fairly low, at about 6.8%, and only apply to the taxable value of your home, which is usually less than the market value.

Use our Home Financing calculators to test different scenarios and find out how much you can afford.

 

How will my credit score impact my ability to buy a house?

Your credit score can have an impact on your ability to qualify for a conventional mortgage loan, so it is a good idea to be aware of your score and of common best practices for improving it.

Before applying for a mortgage or getting pre-qualified, you should check your credit score and credit reports to make sure there are no errors and that you’re in the strongest possible position.

What is a credit score?

The most common type of credit score model is the FICO® Score, which is a three-digit number based on factors in your credit report. Mortgage lenders use credit scores to determine your likelihood of repaying your loan, with higher scores making it easier to qualify for the best rates and terms. FICO Scores break down as follows:

  • 800+: Exceptional
  • 740-799: Very Good
  • 670-739: Good
  • 580-669: Fair
  • <580: Poor

If your score is anything less than good, you’re likely to have trouble qualifying for a conventional mortgage loan. You may want to spend some time working on your credit score before applying.

How credit scores are calculated

If you need to raise your score before applying for a mortgage, these are the factors that either help or hurt your score, listed in order from most to least impactful.

  • Payment History: Make on-time payments with all your bills, from utilities and phone service to credit cards and loans.
  • Amounts Owed: Also known as your credit utilization ratio, it’s best to keep revolving credit account balances below 30% per credit card and credit line account and as a total of your available credit across accounts.
  • Length of Credit History: This is one you can’t always control, especially if you’re young, but one thing you can do is leave old credit card accounts open, even if you stop using them. Your oldest accounts reflect positively on your length of credit history.
  • Credit Mix: Lenders like to see that you can handle different types of credit accounts such as term loans and credit cards.
  • New Credit: Whenever you open a new credit account, your score may temporarily drop slightly. The important thing is to space out new accounts and not open too many at once, which could indicate financial problems.

Free apps like Credit Karma and Credit Sesame can also help you track your credit score and provide tips on how to improve it.

What is a credit report?

Your credit report is a statement from a credit reporting company with information about your credit activity and situation, including payment history and current status of credit accounts.

You can access free credit reports from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion at AnnualCreditReport.com. It’s a good habit to regularly check your credit report to make sure there are no errors or signs of identity theft.

So, why is my credit score so important for buying a house?

Checking your credit score is one of the first steps mortgage lenders take when you get pre-qualified or apply for a new mortgage loan. Without a high credit score, you may not qualify for a mortgage loan at all and, if you do, you won’t qualify for the best mortgage rates available. The higher your interest rate, the more you’ll pay in interest over the life of your loan.

Have questions about your credit score and chances of qualifying for a mortgage? Contact any of our mortgage loan officers and we’ll be happy to help!

 

What should my budget be for buying a house?

Budgeting for homeownership means not only the mortgage, but also utilities, lawn maintenance, repairs, and even HOA fees.

When budgeting to buy a house, you want to avoid ending up “house poor,” which refers to the situation of spending such a large proportion of your monthly income on your mortgage payment that there’s not much left for other priorities, such as travel, saving for retirement, and so on.

Look at your current monthly budget and take-home pay. How much are you spending on housing now? Think about how much you can afford to spend on a monthly mortgage payment while still being able to save for home repairs, build your emergency fund, and put away money for retirement.

Mortgage lenders also look at your debt-to-income ratio, which is the percentage of your monthly income that is already committed to other debt payments. Aim for a debt-to-income ratio of less than 30% to improve your chances of qualifying for a mortgage.

Ultimately, homeownership involves a variety of costs outside of the mortgage monthly payment and initial down payment. Budgeting for homeownership means not only the mortgage, but also utilities, lawn maintenance, repairs, and even HOA fees, so it’s important to leave room in your budget.

 

Find a home that fits your budget and needs

After determining how much you can afford to spend on your new house, you’ll have a range to work with when beginning your search online. The next challenge is to find a property that fits your current and future needs and is also in your price range. For example, if you plan to have kids in the future, do you want to buy a big enough house now or plan to move again later. Here are some home-buying costs in Quincy to help guide your search:

 

Contact a lender today to find the best mortgage loan for your needs!

 

Once you’ve settled on a budget and started looking at prospective homes, it’s time to get pre-qualified for a mortgage, which shows real estate agents and sellers that they can take you seriously. At First Bankers Trust, we’ve been guiding first-time homebuyers through the process since 1946. We can help you choose between different types of mortgage loans, from conventional loans to USDA mortgages. To learn more, you can reach our team by filling out our online contact form or visiting one of our branch locations across Springfield, Macomb, Carthage, Mendon, and Rushville. Our experienced and Quincy-based mortgage lenders can answer your questions and help you find the right home loan to meet your needs. Contact a lender today!


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