Emily Merkley, association executive, Cache Valley Association of Realtors

The time has finally come! You’ve saved up a nice down payment and you’ve been smart about your credit and consumer debt. You scoured the local listings from your REALTOR® and found your dream home. You’re about to become a homeowner. So, what’s next?

You don’t have to worry, because your journey to homeownership began with a visit to a REALTOR®, who prepared you with the ins and outs of the home buying process. This put you on the right path, teaming up with a lender first, to get financing in order. With a loan pre-approval in hand, you and your REALTOR® approached the home search and buying process from a realistic, efficient angle. Often, people get caught up in the excitement of finding a home, only to be let down because they missed this important and crucial step.

The process of financing a home purchase is often the last thing home buyers want to tackle, because it can be daunting. Factors like credit scores, down payments, and about a dozen different types of loans can make the process confusing, which is where the assistance of a REALTOR is worth its weight in gold. Having an inside understanding on the industry and somebody in your corner to show you the ropes can make all the difference in your home-buying experience.

Find a REALTOR who has extensive financing knowledge, including which type of loan programs are available in your area, and the qualifications you must meet to obtain them. With the average down payment for first-time home buyers sitting at just six percent, the dream of homeownership is more attainable than most have traditionally believed. A REALTOR can help you sift through government-backed programs compared to conventional and even privately financed home loans, with their accompanying down payment percentages and requirements.

It’s important to remember that you will normally be required to pay closing costs on a loan that does not require any down payment, and those costs can vary based on lender and escrow fees and property taxes. Check with your REALTOR® to discuss various ways that you can receive assistance with your closing costs and find programs that are available to make this home a reality. Or, ask your REALTOR® how closing costs can be negotiated as part of the terms of the purchase.

Don’t wait to take the next step forward. Homeownership is a worthwhile goal, and a path you can go down with confidence as you work side-by-side with an experienced and knowledgeable REALTOR®, who will be your advocate to ensure you get the best as you work to realize your dreams.