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Financial Considerations (For First-Time Home Buyers)

Written by
Wesley Mortgage
May 23, 2023
min read

As a first-time homebuyer, it's important to evaluate financial factors such as setting a realistic budget, accounting for the down payment, understanding mortgage insurance, calculating closing costs, and considering other potential expenses. In addition, the credit score can influence interest rates and mortgage terms.

Interest Rates

Interest rates determine payments and are a key consideration when applying for a mortgage. Lenders assess the risk of a home loan by evaluating factors such as credit score, financial history, and down payment and use this information to set interest rates. It's essential to shop around and compare rates from multiple lenders to find the best deal.

Credit Score

Having a good credit score is essential. It can lead to more favorable rates and terms. To improve a credit score, start by paying bills on time, avoid taking on more debt, and limit the number of credit inquiries.

Down Payment

For first-time home buyers, a down payment constitutes 5-20% of the price of the home. Saving up for the initial costs will save you money on interest and secure better rates. Consult a financial adviser to determine the best route and find the available assistance for your down payment.

Mortgage Insurance

It is essential to understand the terms and conditions of Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) before signing an agreement, as it can vary. PMI is required for those with a down payment of less than 20%, and is designed to protect the creditor in the event of default. It is paid for by the lender or homebuyer depending on the circumstance, and can be paid either as a lump sum or installments.

Loan Terms

Loan terms can be a source of confusion for first-time borrowers, as they can be used to refer to both conditions and the duration of the loan. Conditions encompass different aspects of a loan, such as interest rates, payment amounts, and the repayment period. When used in the singular, loan terms refer to the loan lifespan.


Foreclosure occurs when a homeowner fails to make payments, leading to the lender taking possession of the property. The timeline for foreclosure can vary, but it won't begin until the homeowner is at least 120 days behind on payments. If you are concerned about foreclosure, explore options such as loan modifications and assistance programs.

Mortgage Lenders

Mortgage lenders are financial institutions that provide mortgages. They establish terms and conditions, insurance prerequisites, and other criteria. Lenders create the standards and qualifications that decide if you qualify for a home loan.

Closing Costs

Closing costs are fees the lender charges when a home purchase is finalized. These fees often amount to 2-5% of the total price and are due at closing. Factor in closing costs when discussing a loan with a creditor.

What Closing Costs will Cover

Closing costs account for miscellaneous fees, such as title insurance, attorney fees, appraisal costs, home inspections, property taxes, surveys, and other charges related to transferring property ownership. Some lenders bundle these into one fee, while others might bundle a few.

How to Reduce Closing Costs

Shopping around for the lowest-cost lender is the simplest way to lower closing costs. Also try negotiating with the seller to see if they could contribute. Last, government assistance programs may be available.


Prequalifying for a home loan is an early step of the application process. Submit your financial information to the lender, along with the associated risk and loan size. The creditor will then provide an estimate on whether you qualify for the loan, which is not the final qualification.

What Types of Pre-Qualifications Do I Need?

Lenders have different requirements. These may include a high credit score, consistent income, low debt-to-income (DTI) ratio, down payment amount, and employment history. Also, creditors require financial documentation, such as W-2s and tax returns.

Debt-to-Income Ratio

DTI (Debt-to-Income Ratio) quantifies a borrower's debt compared to their income. Lenders utilize it to assess the riskiness of a borrower; a higher DTI indicates a greater chance of defaulting. Mortgage creditors prefer a DTI of 50% or less. The lower the DTI, the more favorable terms and conditions.

Calculating DTI

To calculate the DTI, determine what percent of your income is taken by debt. Divide your household income by the debts (such as a mortgage, car payments, student loans, and personal loans) and express that as a percent.

Mortgage Payment Calculators

Mortgage payment calculators can be an invaluable resource for estimating payments, amortization schedules, interest rates, and PMI. When looking for an appropriate calculator, find one that offers the necessary input options, including loan term, loan amount, and interest rate.

Wesley Mortgage has a team of dedicated advisors to assist interested home buyers and current homeowners. Consult with a representative today to learn how we can help.

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