Joyce Crommett, Westborough MA Real Estate, Southborough MA Real Estate, Northborough MA Real Estate


With so much to think about these days, it is not surprising that some first-time home buyers make mistakes they later regret as they shop for a home for sale. Presented here are some of the most popular mistakes, along with tips to help you avoid a similar fate.

Looking for a home before getting a mortgage

Many first-time buyers make the mistake of seeing houses first before ever scheduling an appointment with a lending institution. In some big markets, housing inventory is still tight, and competition is so frightening. You might discover that you are eager to spend more to buy a property, or lose a property because you are not even pre-approved for a mortgage.

What is the solution to this? 

Before you fall in love with that perfect dream house you have been looking at all this while, ensure you get a complete underwritten pre-approval letter. Being pre-approved sends the signal that you are a serious buyer whose credit and finances are ready to get a loan successfully.

Buying a house that your financial muscle cannot carry

It’s easy to fall in love with houses that might make you spend more, but over-stretching yourself can cause you regrets later. It could even put you at higher risk of losing your home if you fall on the unpleasant hammer of hard financial times.

Any remedy? 

The best way to overcome this issue is to concentrate on the monthly expenses you can genuinely afford instead of looking at the highest loan amount you qualify for. Just because you are eligible for a $250,000 loan, that doesn’t mean you can afford the monthly payments that come with it. Factor in your other financial obligations that do not show on a credit report along with additional home expenses like insurance and taxes when deciding on how much house you can afford.

Emptying your savings just to buy a house

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is spending every dime you have. When you invest all your cash, including your savings on the down payment and closing costs, you set yourself up for disappointment. It will do you no good.

Some people make the mistake of spending all they have saved to make the required 20% down payment, so they don’t have to pay for mortgage insurance. However, they are making a grave mistake as they are left with no savings at all.

Homebuyers who pay 20 percent or more down do not have to pay for mortgage insurance when getting a conventional mortgage. That often translates into significant savings on the monthly mortgage payment. However, it is not worth the risk of living on the edge.

Here comes the solution.Let your aim be to save three to six months of living expenses in an emergency fund. Paying mortgage insurance is not the best, but killing your emergency or retirement savings just to make a sizeable down payment is even more of risk.

Talk to your real estate agent about their mortgage and lender recommendations and get yourself pre-approved for a realistic mortgage before starting your home search.


When you’re shopping for a home, there’s so much to consider. Between the questions of what neighborhood you should live in and what style house you like, you need to think of the most important thing: finances. When you think that you’re financially ready to buy a home, you often will get the notion that it’s a good time to just start shopping. There’s several steps that you must take first before you start shopping for a home. One of the first steps you should consider taking before you make the leap into home ownership is to get preapproved. While buyers still tend to skip the preapproval process, doing this can help you immensely throughout the home buying process. While it may seem an insignificant and kind of boring step, getting preapproved is important for your finances. It may even help you to land in a home that you love faster. It’s actually detrimental to make an offer without a preapproval, because some lenders won’t accept an offer without one. Many realtors verify and require that offers come along with the stamp of preapproval. What Does Getting Preapproved Involve? You may have heard of a prequalification. This is much different from being preapproved. Prequalification involves buyer provided information, just to get a sense of how much they can spend on a home. Preapproval involves credit scores, bank statements, tax returns and more. This process states exactly how much lenders will be willing to give to the borrower. All of the documents needed for preapproval are the same exact documents needed for a mortgage. This helps you as the borrower prepare ahead of time as well. These are some of the kinds of documents that you’ll need for preapproval: Pay stubs W-2s from the previous year Federal tax returns from the past two years Two Months of Bank Statements from all of your accounts A credit report While a preapproval is only one step in the long process of buying a home, it speeds up the later steps of securing a mortgage. The process also helps buyers face their financial reality. Don’t put off the important process because you fear that you won’t be approved for the amount that you need. It’s also common for buyers to assume that because someone they know has been approved for a certain amount of money that they will be able to get that same loan amount as well. This isn’t always the case and another great reason to get preapproved. Errors On Credit Reports Often, there are errors on credit reports. That’s why you need to check them often. If you have some errors on your credit report, getting preapproved is a great way to check if there are any errors and give you time to fix them before you apply for a mortgage.

There are a number of programs, government-sponsored and otherwise, that are designed to help aspiring homeowners find and get approved for a mortgage that works for them.

Among these are first-time homeowner loans insured by the Housing and Urban Development Department, mortgages and loans insured by the USDA designed to help people living in urban and rural areas, and VA loans, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.


In today’s post, I’m going to give you a basic rundown of VA loans, who is eligible for them, and how to apply for one. That way you’ll feel confident knowing you’re getting the best possible deal on your home mortgage.


What is a VA Loan?

VA loans can provide soon-to-be homeowners who have served their country with low-interest rates and no private mortgage insurance (PMI).

If you’re hoping to buy a home soon and don’t have at least a 20% down payment, you typically have to take out private mortgage insurance. This means paying an extra insurance bill on top of your monthly mortgage payments. The downside of PMI is that it never turns into equity that you can then use when you decide to move again or sell your home.

Loans that are guaranteed by the VA don’t require PMI because the bank knows your loan is a safer investment than if it wasn’t guaranteed

VA loans may also help you secure a lower interest rate, or give you some negotiating power when it comes to discussing your interest rate.

Finally, VA loans set limits on the number of closing costs you can pay in your mortgage. And, if you’ve ever bought a home before, you’ll know how quickly closing costs can add up.

Who is eligible?

There are some common misconceptions about who can apply for a VA loan? So, we’ll cover all the bases of eligibility.

If you meet one of the following criteria, you may be eligible for a VA loan:


  • You’ve served 90 consecutive days during wartime

  • You’ve served 181 days during peacetime

  • You’ve served six or more years in the Reserves or National Guard

  • Your spouse died due to their work in the military

There are some restrictions to these eligibilities. For example, your chosen lender may still have credit score minimums.

Applying for a VA Loan

There are two main steps for applying for a VA Loan. First, you’ll have to ensure your eligibility. You can do this by checking the VA’s official website. Be sure to call them with any questions you may have.

Next, you’ll need a certificate of eligibility. The easiest way to acquire one is through your chosen lender.  If you haven’t chosen a lender, you can also apply online through the eBenefits portal, or by mailing in a paper application.

Once you have a certificate, you can apply for your mortgage and you’ll be on your way to buying a home.


Most homeowners would love to be able to pay off their mortgage early. However, few see it as a possibility when they take into account their earnings and other bills.

 There are, however, a few ways to pay down your mortgage earlier than planned. But first, let’s talk about when it makes sense to try and pay off your mortgage.

 When to consider paying off your mortgage early

If you recently got a promotion, have someone move in with you who contributes to paying the bills, or recently got a secondary form of income, you might want to consider making extra payments on your mortgage.

However, having extra money doesn’t always mean you should spend it immediately on your home loan.

First, consider if you have a large enough emergency savings fund. It might be tempting to try and throw any extra money at your mortgage as soon as possible, but there are other financial commitments you should plan for as well.

If you have kids who will be applying to college soon, remember that student aid takes into account their parents’ finances. If your children plan on applying to institutions with high tuition, then your equity will be counted against you.

Refinancing to pay your mortgage early

Refinancing your home loan is one option if you’re considering increasing the payments on your mortgage. If you can refinance a 30-year loan to a 15-year loan with a lower interest rate, you’ll save money in two ways--your lower interest rate and the fact that you’ll be accruing interest for less time.

There is a downside to refinancing. Once you refinance, you’re locked into your new payment amount. So, if your higher income isn’t dependable, it might not make sense to commit to a higher monthly payment that you aren’t sure you’re going to be able to keep paying.

There’s also the matter of refinancing costs. Just like the costs associated with signing on your mortgage, you’ll have to pay closing costs on refinancing. You’ll need to weigh the cost of refinancing against the amount you’ll save on interest over the term of your mortgage to see if it truly makes sense to go through the refinancing process.

Paying more on your current loan

Even if you aren’t sure that refinancing is the best option, there are other ways you can make payments on your mortgage to pay it off years sooner than your term length.

One of the common methods is to simply make thirteen payments each year instead of twelve. To do this, homeowners often use their tax returns or savings to make the thirteenth payment. Over a thirty year mortgage, this could save you over full two years of added interest.

A second option is to make two bi-weekly payments rather than one monthly payment. By making biweekly payments you have the ability to make 26 payments in a year. If you were to just make two payments per month then you would make 24 total payments. Over time, those two extra payments per year add up.


As happens in any industry, there are professionals who work in the real estate industry who don't mind cutting corners. Protections against working with inexperienced realtors and mortgage brokers comes through local and state realtor licensing requirements.

You may not be real estate savvy, but you deserve to be heard

The realtor licensing requirements vary from state to state, but generally mandate that realtors complete educational training and pass a state approved licensing examination. Ethical and legal issues may be covered during the training. What training seminars, study guides and tests may not give realtors are strong communication skills.

A study guide may not show realtors how to respect mortgage borrowers and house hunters. This training may fall into your lap. To be effective when dealing with realtors and mortgage brokers, you need to be confident. When you are confident while house hunting, you can increase the likelihood that you will:

  • Search for houses that fit within your financial range (confidence can help you to communicate to realtors the importance of not wasting your time and only showing you houses that are below your maximum budget)
  • Avoid giving into realtor or mortgage broker requests to buy houses that have amenities that you don't really want or need
  • Stick to looking for houses that are located in areas that match your personal tastes
  • Get the chance to buy houses that your entire family will appreciate (this means that you won't be talked into buying a house that may be great for adults but injury provoking for children)
  • Steer clear of attending open houses where former pet owners lived if you don't want to live in a house that was once home to several dogs or cats
  • Receive a thorough explanation of each expense associated with owning a house. For example, if you're confident, you could clearly and respectfully communicate to a realtor that you want all costs associated with a house to be level with or below your budget. In this case, expenses like your mortgage principal and interests, homeowners association fees,closing costs, broker fees, title fees and loan fees and insurances will not exceed your maximum budget.
  • Work with a realtor who takes the initiatives to update you on the status of the house shopping process.

House hunter confidence yields its own rewards

Reliable and respectable realtors and mortgage brokers are honest. They value house hunters and borrowers, whether these adults are their clients or not. They research directories, conduct smart marketing for their clients and look for quality houses that match their clients' requests. Sharp realtors and mortgage brokers aren't pushy or demanding. They listen to their clients.

If they exhibit enough respect and self-confidence, smart house hunters could help to sharpen realtors and increase their chances of working with realtors who find them houses that they will afford and appreciate. They could also help realtors gain the very skills that strengthen and lengthen realtor careers, skills like active listening, focused question asking, thorough research and welcomed communication skills.




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