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Mistakes first-time homebuyers should avoid

| Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017, 2:11 p.m.

You're tired of paying rent. You're ready for a home. You're going for it.

But navigating the world of real estate can be daunting the first time around . You've been warned mistakes are costly. Fortunately, plenty of professionals are ready to help guide you from pre-qualification to closing day.

You're not alone in this competitive market. And you'll be set up for success by avoiding the following mistakes:

Get Some Help

Friends and family may encourage not using a real estate agent . Ignore the advice.

"I always tell first time homebuyers - use a real estate agent," says Joanne Duggan, Executive Vice President of Retail Mortgage Lending at S&T Bank .

"Get references from your friends, family or colleagues. I've seen so many deals go south because first time home buyers got lost along the way. A real estate agent is your trusted advisor and will help guide you along the process."

Interview Only One Lender

Fees, rates and lenders can vary substantially when it comes to loan rates and quality of service. Find someone you know you can call with questions during the process as well as after the purchase of your home.

"It's important to shop around," says Duggan. "It's not always just about getting the lowest rate, but about finding someone you are comfortable working with.

"Ask them a lot of questions - all of your questions. And ask them who is going to service the loan, and who you can turn to with questions after closing. You'll be working with that person for 45 to 60 days, so it's important to have a level of trust."

Duggan puts it this way: "I say to women, don't spend more time picking out a purse than you do a lender. This is the biggest purchase you'll ever make."

Stay Cool

The perfect-world scenario: You have 20-percent down, minimal debt and a great credit score.

The real-world situation is probably different, and that's all right.

Don't rule yourself out as a candidate for a respectable home loan. There are loans like Federal Housing Authority loan [FHA] or HomeReady created specifically to help first time homebuyers.

"People aren't aware that there are some terrific first time home buyer programs out there," says Duggan. "There is this perception you need more in savings than you do."

Get Pre-Approved Early

It is important to get pre-approved . You will know exactly what you can afford and what will fit into your budget. It would be heartbreaking if you've wasted months spent looking at homes in a specific price range that you cannot afford.

That won't happen if you are pre-approved and know what homes are in your financial neighborhood. A good lender will work with you to get pre-approved, so you'll be more confident in your home search.

"Your real estate agent will take you more seriously when you've been qualified," say Duggan.

Get Up, Get Out

With the banking world now geared to operate online, securing home loans can be done from the comfort of your bedroom. But a first-time homebuyer should consider face-to-face time with experts such as those at S&T Bank .

"Online loans are a great option... but you want a personal lender who is going to be responsive and give you the best guidance," says Duggan. "Some people apply online because it's a really good rate.

"But you're going to need someone who will be your advocate, someone to answer your questions, and keep you informed along the way."

Paid advertisement by S&T Bank. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.

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