Take the mystery out of buying your first home with our First-Time Homebuyer Online Edu-Series featuring Bank of America specialists with Buzzfeed's Hannah Williams.
Once registered, you'll get access to videos that you can watch on demand, whenever you want wherever you want. Plus, each video comes with useful resources and tools to help make homebuying easier.
Knowing how much you can afford can help you feel more confident during your home search.
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Be prepared for the upfront costs at closing using our closing cost calculator
The Bank of America Real Estate Center® provides you with easy access to home listings from any computer or mobile device. You can keep up with your home search even when you’re on the go and take advantage of tools and resources to learn more about budgeting, saving and buying a home.
The Bank of America Digital Mortgage Experience® puts you in control. Prequalify to estimate how much you can borrow, or apply (and get pre-approved) for a new mortgage online. You can even refinance your existing mortgage. All with customized terms that meet your needs.
While buying your first home is a big decision, there are also lots of small decisions to make along the way. To help you navigate the process, we’ve gathered suggestions for avoiding some of the most common mistakes.
1. Know how much cash you'll need at closing. When you buy your home, you’ll need cash for a down payment (see how much you should put down) and closing costs (estimate your closing costs). The down payment typically varies from 5% to 20% or more. Putting less than 20% down will typically require you to pay for private mortgage insurance (keep reading for more on that). Closing costs could be about 3-7% of the total loan amount and will include charges such as loan origination fees, title insurance and appraisal fees.
2. Budget for private mortgage insurance. For conventional financing, PMI is typically necessary if you don't make at least a 20% down payment when you buy your home. Make sure you know how much this cost will be and factor it into your monthly home payment budget.
3. Research your utilities. If you're moving into a larger home than you're used to, a home that is newer or older than you're used to or located in a climate that's hotter or colder than you're used to, ask your real estate professional to find out what the home's energy bills have typically been. This can help prevent being surprised by a higher utility bill than you're expecting. If you're moving into a new community, find out about water costs, too.
4. Don't forget miscellaneous expenses. Be sure to budget for moving expenses and additional maintenance costs. Newer homes tend to need less maintenance than older ones, but all homes require upkeep. If you're considering a condo or a home with a homeowners association (HOA), remember to include HOA dues in your budget. Keep in mind that you should have an emergency fund on hand to prepare for any unexpected changes in your income (like reduction in your wages) or unexpected expenses (like medical bills).
5. Manage your debt carefully after your home purchase. Sometimes your home will need new appliances, landscaping or maybe even a new roof. Planning for these expenses carefully can help you avoid one of the most common causes of missed mortgage payments: carrying too much debt. It's important not to overextend your credit card and other debts so you stay current on your payments.
6. Get prequalified for a mortgage before you start shopping. Knowing how much you can borrow will let you keep your search focused on the homes that are right for you. Getting prequalified (you can prequalify for a Bank of America mortgage online) will provide you with an estimate of how much you can borrow before you start looking at homes.
What is a P&I payment?
P&I is the principal and interest you pay your lender each month. The principal is the amount of money being borrowed. The interest is the cost of borrowing the principal. Principal and interest account for the majority of your monthly payment, which may also include escrow payments for property taxes, homeowners insurance, mortgage insurance and other costs.
What is an escrow account?
An escrow account may be required by your lender to cover future payments for items such as homeowners insurance and property taxes. An escrow account is not a fee; it accumulates funds needed to properly service your loan.
What are points?
Points (sometimes referred to as discount points or mortgage points) are paid to the lender, usually at mortgage closing, in order to lower the interest rate. One point equals one percent of the loan amount. For example, 2 points on a $100,000 mortgage equals $2,000. Learn more about mortgage points
How do I estimate my property taxes?
Your property taxes are a fixed percentage of your home’s value based on the tax assessor’s appraised value of your home. Property taxes are paid to township or county in which the home is located. You will pay this tax annually, semiannually or as part of your monthly mortgage payments (the tax portion of the payment will go into your escrow account). The local tax assessor’s office can provide you with a specific property tax rate.
Why do I need a home inspection?
The home inspection is an added expense that some first-time homebuyers don’t expect and might feel safe declining, but professional inspectors often notice things most of us don’t. This step is especially important if you’re buying an existing home as opposed to a newly constructed home, which might come with a builder’s warranty. If the home needs big repairs you can’t see, an inspection helps you negotiate with the current homeowner to have the issues fixed before closing or adjust the price accordingly so you have extra funds to address the repairs once you own the home.
Why does my lender require homeowners insurance?
Homeowners insurance is a contract that protects both you and your lender in case of loss or damage to your property. The contract is known as an insurance policy, and the periodic payment is known as an insurance premium. The monthly homeowners insurance premium is often included as part of the monthly mortgage payment, with the insurance portion of the payment going into your escrow account.
Set interest rate for the life of the loan
Your monthly payments of principal and interest remain the same for the life of the loan
Interest rate may change periodically during the loan term
Your monthly payment may increase or decrease based on interest rate changes