You’ve arrived at the decision to buy in the intown Atlanta region, but what’s next? As a first-time buyer, it’s hard to know. To help take some of the guesswork out of the home buying process, we sat down with Ameris Bank Mortgage Services to answer the top mortgage questions that you’ve been wanting to know. Read below to see what Stacie Riddle, Mortgage Builder Services and Relationship Manager; Ronda Crow, Senior Mortgage Banker; and Ashton Sutton, Mortgage Builder Services and Relationship Coordinator had to say.
I’m thinking about buying a home, where should I start?
Ashton Sutton: The first thing to do when you’re thinking about buying a home is to get pre-qualified.
How do I get pre-qualified? How long does that process take?
Stacie Riddle: To get pre-qualified, all you need to do is fill out one of our applications with your information and we’ll take it from there. We’ll look at your credit, your income, as well as your assets. It’s a very quick process that allows us to get you pre-qualified in a matter of minutes.
Why is now the best time to buy?
Ronda Crow: Now is the best time there’s ever been to purchase a new home. The interest rates are extremely low and Atlanta’s housing market is hot. A lot of the time, we find that your monthly mortgage payment is cheaper than rent as well. Instead of paying someone else, invest in your future by buying a home.
When should I start talking to a lender in my homebuying process?
RC: You need to start talking to your lender right away — right at the beginning of your homebuying process. The lender will look at your employment income, your residency and your expenses and debt, and figure out how much you can afford. That’s the first thing that you need to know — can I afford the payment and exactly what’s my budget threshold when purchasing a home?
When I’m inquiring about a mortgage, what qualities should I look for in my loan officer and the company that I’m looking to do business with?
RC: When you’re shopping for your mortgage in the Atlanta region, find a loan officer that is seasoned and experienced. You want someone who is a good communicator and who will take the time to go through all of the details of purchasing a home with you. Whoever you choose, make sure you can build a rapport with them and that they are someone who you can rely on and trust.
What do I need to get a loan?
SR: We look at your income from the last two years, your assets so that you have money for down payment and closing costs, and your credit history. All three of these elements are extremely important to getting a mortgage. Because we’ll be asking for documentation to support each of these items, it’s a good idea to start gathering all of your documents ahead of time. Once they’re collected and shared with Ameris, we’ll use them to identify what you can qualify for.
What advice would you give a first-time homebuyer?
RC: Be responsive to your lender and be forthright — if there’s a question that’s bothering you, talk to your loan officer who has a wealth of knowledge to share with you. For first-time buyers especially, save your money where possible and work to prove your qualities as a buyer and as a borrower so the mortgage-approval process is seamless in the end.
Are there first-time buyer programs?
RC: Yes, you want to find a lender that offers you a variety of options, whether it’s down payment assistance programs, 100% financing, or USDA and Portfolio loans. Choosing a lender that offers you choices gives you the ability to select which loan suits you best.
What do most buyers put down to buy a home?
SR: While you can still put down 20% to buy a home, it’s no longer the typical amount. From what Ameris sees, first-time buyers are putting down between 3-5% which is a minimal amount.