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We are totally clueless about anything that goes along with buying a house. We need to start saving now but don't know what kind of down payment we need. We're looking into houses or townhomes for $125000 or less. And would like our mortgage to be around $800-900 a month. How much should we save and what kind of programs are out there for first time home buyers?
The payment (principal and interest only) on a $125,000 mortgage is about $600 (3.5% for 30 years). Assuming you pur down less than 20% on the house, that means you then have to pay Private Mortgage Insurance, which will run about $60 - $70 per month. Then add in property taxes and homeowners insurance and you are probably up around that $900 (maybe a bit more). Most townhomes also come with homeowner associations - figure another $100 per month - this goes to common area maintenance, etc. Now, backing out some stuff, that $125,000 gets you about a $130,000 townhome with 3.5% down (FHA). Also, you will have closing costs of between 5 and 6% and will need two month's worth of mortgage payments (about $2,000 in our example) in the bank. All told, you are looking at needing between $10,000 and $15,000 in cash in the bank before buying. Next, when you do go to buy, stop using credit cards and do not open up any new credit accounts starting about 6 months before you buy - these are red flags and can cause you to get declined for a mortgage. Also, even if you get pre-approved (something you almost need to do), continue to avoid using credit until you actually close on the house - the lenders are now required to re-examine your credit report 1 day before closing and any new credit use will delay (or cause declination) the mortgage approval. You should also call around and see if any banks or credit unions (or even your local Community College) offer one day home buyer seminars.
FHA loan would the easiest type of loan for you to get unless either one of you are a Veteran and could get a Virginia loan. A FHA loan requires 3.5% down payment, plus closing costs. Also you can ask the seller to pay your closing costs, but that normally makes the seller less negotiable on the sales price. I would call Quicken Loans and give them your financial information and they can tell you what type of loan best suits you, the costs, the needed down payment, what you qualify for price wise, and how much your payment would be. I would purchase a property asap. Home prices are going up in many areas and interest rates today are very low. In my area, Southern California, home prices have increased 80%-90% in the last three years and most of that increase has been in the last 6 months.
You can borrow about 3x what you make yearly. You will need minimum 3.5% down, as high as 20% possibly. Google "mortgage calculator" to lok at what home price, down payment, and interets rate wil add up to in a payment.