One of the first steps towards buying a home is determining if you are "housing ready". Most families will need to be approved for a mortgage loan to pay for the cost of their home. You will need to demonstrate to a bank or other lender that you will be able to make the necessary payments to pay back your loan. Therefore, it is important to be able to show a source of steady income, an established credit history and savings for a down payment and closing costs.
You should not purchase a home until you are comfortable that you can manage the upfront and ongoing costs of homeownership. Preliminary steps to take might include the following:
- If you need to establish a credit and banking history, you should first consider financial literacy training. Many organizations provide tutorials free of charge to local residents and others provide information online that you can easily access. For more information, click here.
- If you are concerned about your credit history, any one of the many local housing counseling organizations can help you make a financial plan to help get you back on your feet and start saving for the future. These housing counseling services are generally offered free of charge to income eligible families. You can also find a credit counselor through the National Foundation for Credit Counseling which provides contacts to counselors, who will charge a fee for their service.
You will need to have savings for your down payment and closing costs, which will typically amount to 10 to 20% of your purchase price. There is down payment assistance available from a number of sources for income eligible first time homebuyers, including Suffolk County, but you still need to have saved some money on your own. This is important not only to cover the upfront costs of homeownership but to have a reserve to cover any needed repairs, moving expenses, utility hook up fees, etc. You should also have sufficient reserves to cover the ongoing maintenance of your home. As most homeowners will tell you, there is always something that needs to be fixed.