What to Know Before Buying Your First Home

Buying that first house can be a daunting task, but Marshfield Medical Center Credit Union (MMCCU) is there to help members have the best first house-buying experience possible.

“The 1st step our members should take is to contact the credit union to set up an appointment to talk about the mortgage process, options, programs, costs and interest rates,” said Jerry Litwaitis, VP of Lending. “We know the right questions to ask to determine what program will best fit our member’s needs.”

Litwaitis and the MMCCU team will work with members to complete a pre-qualification to determine their affordability based on the different terms and rates MMCCU has to offer.

“We can educate our member so that they feel confident about the mortgage lending process,” he said, adding that members do not always know what they can afford or how much money is required for a down payment.

MMCCU can determine a member’s affordability, based off their income and current debts. They can also determine what program will fit a member’s financial needs when it comes to mortgage term and type of down payment required.

“The minimum down payment percentage for a conventional fixed rate mortgage is 5% of the purchase price or appraised value, whichever is less (10% down payment for the credit union’s in-house mortgage programs),” said Litwaitis. “You will also need to have money set aside for closing costs along with reserves (which are the principal, interest, tax and insurance payment on a monthly basis).”

If a member applies and is approved for an FHA mortgage, a 3% down payment is the minimum amount. For a USDA mortgage, no down payment is required, although the applicant will need to have enough funds in their account for closing costs.

For first-time home buyers, Litwaitis said to expect a 30-year fixed rate with little or no down payment to get started.

“This will provide our member with the lowest possible monthly payment with the smallest amount of out of pocket expenses,” he explained. “Since there is no pre-payment penalty, you can make extra payments down the road to reduce the balance and term at a faster rate.”

Each member’s situation is different, so working with a professional through this process is important.

“MMCCU has the local knowledge and expertise to get you into the right mortgage program that will fit your budget,” said Litwaitis.  “We have personalized service enabling our member to deal with one person from the start of your mortgage process until the end. MMCCU has the right products, with competitive interest rates and closing costs to complete your home buying process.”

Questions a first-time home buyer be asking their financial institution:

• What type of mortgage programs do you offer?
• What are the current interest rates and annual percentage rates on those programs?
• What are the closing costs for those programs?
• How much of a mortgage payment can I afford?
• How long does the mortgage process take?
• What is private mortgage insurance and how much money do I need to put down to get out of it?
• Is there a pre-payment penalty on the mortgage programs?
• How much of a down payment is required for each of the programs explained?
• Do I even need a down payment?
• What is the difference between a closing cost and a prepaid finance charge?
• What is the difference between an interest rate and the annual percentage rate?