Tips for Buying Your First Home in North Carolina
North Carolina is a great place to buy your first home, especially if you’re shopping in the Charlotte area. The landscape is beautiful, business is thriving — and the Southern hospitality of its residents is second to none.
But if this is your first time buying a home, you might still be nervous. After all, a home is a big purchase, so you’re smart to be looking for advice. Being prepared will help you find the right mortgage as well as the right home, so you can enjoy homeownership for a long time to come. To give you a boost, we’re sharing our best tips for buying your first home in North Carolina.
Who qualifies as a first-time home buyer in North Carolina?
First, it helps to understand who qualifies as a first-time home buyer here.
You qualify if:
- You’ve never owned a home before, or
- You have owned your home in the past, but that was more than 3 years ago
If you’ve never owned a home before, you definitely qualify as a first-time homebuyer. But you also qualify if you haven’t owned your primary residence — the main home you live in — in three years or more. That can be a great benefit for people who may have owned a home during a previous stage of their lives and then sold it or moved out.
It’s important to know whether you qualify as a first-time homebuyer because you could be eligible for assistance programs that could save you thousands on your home purchase.
Preparation is key
You might be inclined to “wing it” in other areas of your life, but when it comes to buying a home, it will pay to do your research. A home purchase is a real estate transaction with tax, legal and financial implications, so it’s not the kind of thing where you want to cross your fingers and hope for the best.
As you dream about your first home and everything it could mean for your family, don’t forget to do your homework. Learn about mortgages, private mortgage insurance (PMI), down payments, interest rates, and other key steps of buying your first home.
Luckily, if you’re here, you’ve come to the right place. Fairway of the Carolinas maintains an extensive collection of resources and tools to learn about the home buying process, so you can prepare yourself for the journey.
Check out our Mortgage Calculator and start planning.
Make sure your credit score is in good shape
Your credit score might not be the first thing you think about when you dream about buying your first home, but it’s a key part of getting the right mortgage.
Under federal law, you’re entitled to get a free credit score report every year from each of the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, TransUnion and Experian. Request your credit report and review it carefully.
Make sure there aren’t any mistakes on your credit report that could hurt your credit score. If there are, you can write to the credit reporting agency that provided your score and explain the situation.
Generally, you’re looking for a minimum credit score of at least 620-680 to be able to take advantage of most helpful first-time homebuyer programs (more on that below). However, you could qualify for a mortgage from the FHA with a score as low as 500, if you can put 10% down.
If your credit score is lower than you’d like, Fairway can help. Our CrediTools team of highly skilled credit analysts can draft a credit improvement plan for you at no cost. This improvement plan is designed to help you improve your credit score naturally—no gimmicks. And with a better credit score, you’ll be able to take advantage of exciting homebuyer programs that can help you save big. Like, thousands big.
Talk to one of our loan officers to learn more about this program, or explore our Credit Resources to get a handle on the basics.
Take advantage of first-time homebuyer programs
One terrific bonus of being a first-time homebuyer is the ability to take advantage of money-saving programs designed especially for you.
NCHFA NC Home Advantage Mortgage
The North Carolina Housing Finance Agency has NC-specific loan programs that will help you afford your home. The Home Advantage Mortgage is for first-time buyers and move-up buyers, and it provides a fixed-rate mortgage and up to 5% in down payment assistance.
NCHFA NC 1st Home Advantage Down Payment
This program offers down payment assistance to first-time North Carolina home buyers on their down payment. It works by providing a second, interest-free mortgage that can be forgiven in 15 years.
NC Home Advantage Tax Credit
And when it comes to tax time, you’ll enjoy multiple tax benefits by being a homeowner. Not only can you claim your mortgage interest on your income tax return, but if you qualify for the NC Home Advantage Tax Credit, you can claim up to $2,000 in the form of a mortgage credit, which will reduce your overall taxes owed.
Pick the right team
Here’s the best tip of all for new homebuyers: Surround yourself with people who are going to advocate for you during the home buying process.
From the real estate agent to the mortgage specialist to the friends and family supporting you on your journey, the people you can lean on will make a world of difference.
At Fairway of the Carolinas, we are proud to support North Carolina first-time buyers with highly personalized service and clear, consistent communication. When you’re ready to get started buying your first (or next) home, give us a call and let us help you through the process.
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