8 Steps on the Path to Homeownership

If you’re a first-timer, jumping into homeownership can be a little scary –, having a clear understanding of what’s ahead will make the process of buying your new home less stressful.

We’re here to help you better understand the process and take the first steps toward reaching your goals of homeownership..

From asking yourself logistical questions – like ‘How much house can I afford?’ and ‘How much of a down payment do I really need?’ – to the more exciting emotional questions of ‘Where do I want to live?’ and ‘What type of house am I looking for?’

There’s a myriad of guidance out there for you to follow, but it can be hard to recognize what is the “must-have” knowledge you need to get going.

So, we did it for you!

Read on to learn the 8 steps on your path to homeownership.

Step 1: Approach the Process with Confidence

Understanding the complexities of the mortgage application and home-buying process can sometimes make your head spin. That’s why at Gulf Coast Bank Home Loans, we’re here to partner with you so you can confidently move in the direction of your homeownership dreams.

Take a deep breath and approach this process with confidence, knowing that we’ll be here to help you and advocate for you along the way.

Familiarize yourself with our home loan process and reach out and connect with your neighborhood Gulf Coast Bank lender to get started on your path.

Step 2: Save for a Down Payment

It’s a common myth that buying a home requires putting 20 percent cash down. In reality, the average down payment for a first-time homebuyer is actually around 7 percent, according to recent data from Freddie Mac.

There are many loan programs – including conventional loans, FHA loans, and rural development loans – that require a smaller down payment and may help make your home purchase much more attainable.

Learn more about our available loan programs and reach out to your lender to discuss your down payment options as you begin to save. Browse our tips on saving for a down payment in our recent blog.

Step 3: Get Pre-Qualified

Getting pre-qualified for a home loan has always been a best practice. Doing so will help you solidify your financial readiness as a buyer and narrow down your price range.

But in today’s post-COVID low-inventory market across Metro New Orleans, there’s a good chance you’ll find yourself competing with other buyers for an accepted offer on your dream home.

A pre-qualification sets you apart from the crowd.

 Learn 3 reasons why you should get pre-qualified when you’re shopping for a new home.

Step 4: Establish Your Price Range

Going through the pre-qualification process with one of our loan officers will help position you as a qualified homebuyer when you’re ready to make a purchase offer with your realtor.

If you’re just beginning to think about how much house you can afford – and how it will fit within your monthly budget – it’s time to get number-crunching!

Our home affordability calculator is a great place to start to calculate a monthly mortgage payment in your budget and doing this will help establish the top of your home price range. You can also figure in the cost of homeowner’s insurance, flood insurance, taxes, and other extras you’ll need to account for in your budget.

Step 5: Decide What You’re Looking For

Imagining your dream house is fun for everyone! And it’s a good starting point as you begin to shop.

While you’re dreaming though, drill down a bit and consider these questions:

What neighborhoods do you love in your community?

What home styles or designs do you like?

Do you want a newer or older home?

Are you open to new construction?

What about your commute times and school proximity needs?

Now is also a great time to find and connect with a trusted realtor who can help guide you through the home-shopping and negotiating an offer process.

A good place to start - Ask  your family and friends for recommendations.

Step 6: Start Shopping For Homes

After you’ve connected with a trusted realtor, gotten pre-qualified for a home loan, and decided what you’re looking for in a home – it’s time to shop!

Scanning the homes on the top real estate listing websites out there is a good place to begin.

But it’s even better to lean on your realtor for access to the most current home listings via the MLS (Multiple Listing Service). He or she can set you up on an up-to-the-minute search for houses in your preferred neighborhoods, sizes, styles, price ranges, and more.

Your realtor may also have information about homes coming on (or back on) the market that those real estate aggregator sites won’t have.

Set up appointments to tour homes you like with your realtor and start browsing.

Step 7: Work with Your Loan Officer

When you have an accepted offer (or are just about to have one), it’s time to work closely with your loan officer.

Financing a home loan is a process that takes time, from the initial application to the paperwork to the inspection, appraisal, and the closing.

Your Gulf Coast Bank loan officer will partner with you (and your realtor) to help you understand the process fully, ensure that your application is complete and deadlines are met, and that you have what you need to get to the closing table.

Step 8: Prepare for Homeownership

Congratulations! You made it to closing day and you’re moving into your beautiful new home!

There’s still a lot to think about though – from budgeting for home maintenance to maintaining homeowner’s and flood insurance, and maybe even someday, remodeling or considering a refinance.

To stay up to date on logistics, read more about what happens after your loan closes.

You can also stay connected with us and keep learning by bookmarking and reading our mortgage blog. Each month, we share homeownership tips, financing information, updated real estate market info, interviews with our fantastic team members, and much more.

Are you or is someone you know ready to embark on your personal path to homeownership?

Download Our 8 Steps to Homeownership Graphic to Share and Keep You on the Right Path!

We’d Love To Help Guide You on Your Path to Homeownership!

We’re the bank that cares about you and we’re here to help you before, during, and after your home purchase - and beyond. Reach out to us with your questions and to get connected with a loan officer in your neighborhood. You can also get pre-qualified and learn more about the mortgage process.