First Time Homebuyer?

Realtor Brenda Smith

By Brenda Smith / BSmith Realty – Whether you are a first-time Buyer, or you are thinking about upgrading, or maybe you are returning to the market after the loss or short sale of a previous home, you do have OPTIONS! Even if you have previously owned a home, you may still qualify as a first-time homebuyer if you haven’t owned a primary residence for at least three years, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Did you know that there are more than 150 special assistance programs available to Florida buyers? Federal, state, and local programs include low-rate mortgages, low-down payment options, assistance with closing costs, tax credits, veterans’ incentives, and more.

A couple of those programs include the FHA Back to Work Program, which helps after the loss of a home due to a short sale, or the State Housing Initiatives Partnership (SHIP) program, which is funded by the documentary (doc) stamp tax on real estate transfers and helps the county and city offer down payment and closing cost assistance for low-to-moderate income families and individuals.

As a potential home-buyer you have many questions which are often fueled by fear, such as are where to go? Who to choose? Can I afford it? Although it can be a little overwhelming to think of all that is needed to review and sign, don’t be afraid to own a home! One of the keys to owning a home…is to get start getting our ducks in a row!

As you begin to review and evaluate the financial assistance and loan programs available, it is also a good time to take a look at your personal financial situation and to review your credit report. You can get a free copy of your credit report which is available at It may also be a great time to start paying off credit cards and personal loans.

Basically, there are five (5) Steps to Buying a Home.

  1. Check your Credit – You can do this yourself or inquire with your bank or Realtor to begin the process.
  2. Figure out the Monthly Mortgage you can Afford- You have to be realistic about what you can comfortably pay each month before you go house-hunting, so that you only look at homes in your price range. Others costs to consider include the initial down payment, ongoing maintenance, utilities, and repairs.
  3. Saving for Upfront Costs- Upfront costs include down-payment or binder deposit, appraisal fees, and other closing costs.
  4. Get Approved for a Mortgage Loan- Pre-approval means a lender (your credit union or bank), has verified your income, debts, and credit history. As long as the property appraises for the purchase price and your financial situation doesn’t change, you should be approved for a mortgage loan.
  5. BUY YOUR HOME – Now that you know what your credit looks like, & how much home you can afford to buy and how much savings you need for a down-payment, it’s time to get your team in place. Most people work with real estate agents to make the process of finding the right home a little easier. A good real estate agent can ensure other professionals are readily available for you including mortgage broker, (if you haven’t received approval from your bank or credit union), home inspector, insurance agent, etc. The agent will help you understand the process, make the offer and ensure the deal is closed.  Once the offer is made and the seller has accepted, it will be time to plan for the closing, which is the day you take possession of the home.  This planning process includes mortgage details, planning inspections, purchasing homeowners’ insurance, agreeing to closing expenses with the seller, paying closing costs, and transferring the title to your name. YOU CAN OWN A HOME!


Brenda Smith, Licensed Real Estate Broker

BSmith Homes, Realtor

PO Box 47831

Jacksonville, FL 32247

Phone: 904-568-0091


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