With interest rates beginning to rise and housing inventory low, would-be buyers may wonder whether this is the right time to purchase a home. According to local experts, the following tips can help make this a great time to buy, and ensure the best possible mortgage rate.
Take Advantage of Educational Opportunities
Buying a first home and navigating financing, down payments, legal issues and more, can be scary. But according to Florence Bank’s Barbara-Jean DeLoria, a Senior Vice President overseeing the Residential Mortgage division, education helps reduce the fear factor for first-time buyers and prevents costly mistakes that could turn a dream home into a financial nightmare.
DeLoria says for many buyers, that education can begin with a first-time buyers’ seminar series. The seminars bring attendees up to speed on critical issues such as:
- Requirements for the application
- Process of getting a real estate agent and an attorney
- What to look for in home inspections
- Overview of the appraisal process
The seminars also educate buyers on the expenses of home ownership. In addition to the mortgage payments and property taxes, buyers need to plan and budget for ongoing maintenance of major home elements such as the roof and the furnace. Florence Bank partners with the Valley Community Development Foundation to host two seminar series a year.
Florence’s next series will be June 6, 13, 20, 27 and Nov. 7, 14, 28, Dec. 5.
Use Local Loan Originators For Personal Consulting
Being local allows Florence Bank to offer education at every step of the process, in a very personal way.
At each branch, Managers and Assistant Managers are qualified to counsel new buyers on the ins-and-outs of the process. “Anyone can go into a branch and get one-on-one counseling. There’s no cost, and they can add a lot of value.”
And, DeLoria says, “As the Director of the Mortgage Department, new applicants get a letter from me welcoming them to the Bank, so they can pick up a phone and call me anytime, or come in and see me. That’s not typical.”
Florence Bank’s local roots also helps keep rates low: “Historically we’ve been the lowest in the marketplace,” DeLoria says. “That’s because we’re a mutually-owned bank so we have the flexibility to set our own pricing.”
Lock In Your Rates
Those watching the market right now have seen rates rising. DeLoria says though rates are increasing, they are still quite low relatively speaking.
“Some people are concerned about the rates rising, but historically they’re still low compared to years ago.”
She recommends, given the tight housing market, once you’ve found a house, don’t wait, hoping for a favorable change in rates.
“Don’t wait,” she says.
Instead, lock in rates. Buyers can lock in rates at Florence Bank for 60 days with no fee, and for 90 days for a fee of one-half percent of the loan amount.
All in all, despite the shifting market, DeLoria says the timing is still right to purchase a home.
“Right now is still a really good time to buy,” she says, “because the average home remains affordable due to the low interest rates.”
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