Young couple receiving keys to their first home

If you’re in the market to buy your first home, you may feel overwhelmed with where to start. From mortgage terminology to credit scores and loan documents, homebuying can be challenging for even long-term homeowners. 

Fortunately, there are a few ways you can make the process easier and gain more confidence with each step. We sat down with Fidelity Federal’s Vice President of Lending, Michael Piscioneri, to hear his best advice for first-time homebuyers.

Top Three Tips for First-Time Homebuyers

It’s important to remember that each person’s homebuying process can look different. Your search should reflect your current needs, wants, budget and future goals. Explore the following tips before starting the search for your first home. 

Tip 1: Do Your Homework When Choosing a Real Estate Agent and Lender

As a first-time buyer, you may have received referrals from family or friends for real estate agents and lenders. Resist the temptation to move forward with someone without doing your homework.

“Remember that you’re hiring them to do a job,” said Piscioneri. “One of the key things first-time homebuyers can do is compose an email with a list of questions that are important to them — similar to an interview — and send it out to three or four agents and lenders.”

Once you hear back from each, review the responses and meet with your top candidates in person. 

“You should sit down and talk to that person, both agents and lenders,” added Piscioneri. “Make sure you do what’s best for you, as this is likely one of the largest investments you’ll make.”

Consider a Local Bank for Streamlined Services and Communication

When you are researching lenders, consider partnering with a local bank. Numerous online options today advertise convenience and easy ways to apply for a mortgage. Unfortunately, you’ll often work with multiple team members in larger financial institutions and may find communication frustrating. 

On the other hand, a local community financial institution may have more dedicated time and resources to assign one team member to help you from the beginning of the homebuying process to the end when you start making payments on your loan.

“A local bank underwrites a loan based on the person, not just a number,” said Piscioneri. “When you work with a small local financial institution like Fidelity Federal, you’re going to speak with one person who will be with you every step of the way.”

A local bank can also help you find the best product for your individual needs and wants.

“At Fidelity Federal, we’re going to sit down and talk to you about your budget, see how your credit looks, discuss the entire process and determine your timeline,” said Piscioneri. “We’re going to have a very personal touch from the start.”

Get assistance from Fidelity Federal Loan Officer Heather before you buy >>

Tip 2: Ask Questions About the Homebuying Process

Another important tip to remember when buying your first home is to have a solid understanding of your real estate agent and financial institution’s processes, including estimated timelines. 

“Trying to understand a mortgage on your own is difficult because not everyone works in a mortgage department,” said Piscioneri. “Make sure you understand what documents you need beforehand and the next steps you’ll take after you get into a contract or receive a home inspection.”

It’s also helpful to know that things can come up in the homebuying process that can extend the time it takes to close or take additional steps. Communicating with your real estate agent and lender can help ease your concerns and meet your expectations.

Tip 3: Follow the Advice of the Professionals

One final tip to keep in mind when beginning the search for your first home is to follow the advice of professionals. 

“There are a lot of products out there, and when first-time buyers talk to long-term homeowners, they may think their best option is a 30-year fixed mortgage,” said Piscioneri. “The best thing to do is to have a conversation with the professionals you’re working with to determine what best fits your needs.”

Read more about the five common types of mortgage loans >>

Talk to your real estate agent and lender about your budget, the monthly payments you feel comfortable with and your future goals and aspirations.

“The more we know, the better we can fit that mortgage product to your needs and goals,” said Piscioneri. “For example, if you’re on the fence about buying versus renting, we can talk about your budget, where you want to live, discuss the stability of your job and review other factors like school districts and time of year to determine your next best steps.”

See How Fidelity Federal Can Help First-Time Buyers

Fidelity Federal is dedicated to providing its customers with high-quality financial products and services. We strive to ensure efficient, accurate, confidential and personalized services to each of our customers. 

We offer a special mortgage for first-time homebuyers with a five percent down payment, no private mortgage insurance and limited verifications. Another option for first-time buyers is the Welcome Home Program, which offers up to $25,000 for low- and moderate-income homebuyers. 

Contact us today to start the process and discuss what loan options are right for you.

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This blog was originally published in June 2023 and was updated in March 2024.