First-time Homebuyer Resources
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Buying a home is a major decision. Anyone (especially a first-time homebuyer!) is sure to have questions. Get started by checking out our free Owning a Home online course to get some background knowledge and understanding of the homebuying process.
Once you’re ready to begin the process, our team has the expertise to guide you every step of the way. We’ll start by getting to know you and introducing you to the people who will be helping you move forward. Then we’ll get you preapproved, so you know how much house you can afford.
getting ready to buy a home
Here are some helpful steps to get you started on the road to home ownership.
Save for Your Down Payment
Most homebuyers can expect to put down 5-20% of the purchase price — but at Reliant, we have programs that require as little as 0-3%.
In addition to using savings for a down payment, consider using gift money and tax refunds, or applying for a first-time buyer grant—many offer matching funds. First-time homebuyers can withdraw from IRAs without penalty to purchase a home (please consult with your tax advisor).
Get Preapproved for Your Loan
The first step in the homebuying process is getting preapproved. It’s free, and it’s a great way to get a handle on what you truly can afford.
Once you know how much you can borrow, you’ll know what price point to shop for and how much you’ll want to save. Having a preapproval in hand also gives you greater negotiating power.
Get Your Free Annual Credit Report
Mortgage underwriters review your credit report when making lending decisions. The report shows your current liabilities and obligations, such as auto loans, credit card debt, child support, and more.
Make sure there are no surprises during that review. You have the right to a free credit report from each credit reporting agency every 12 months.
Build Your Credit
Your credit score is based on your payment history, the debt you owe, how long you’ve been using your credit, how you’ve managed it, and more. Credit scores range from 300 to 850. The national average is 725, so to open up as many options as possible, you’ll want to be as good or better. Even if your score is lower than you’d like, there may be simple things you can do now to help raise it before you need to apply for a mortgage.
you've signed a contract—now what?
Congratulations! You’re on your way to owning your home!
Once you’ve found the right home for you and signed a contract, there are still a number of steps to take to ensure a smooth homebuying process. Use our homebuying guide to help you navigate the next steps to buying your home.
Homebuyer Dream Program™
With this limited-time grant program, first-time homebuyers can get up to $10,000 to use toward a down payment and closing costs!
Make sure you qualify: View the eligibility guidelines, and review the steps below, which you’ll need to complete to qualify.
1. Get prequalified with Reliant
Get prequalified for a mortgage with Reliant! A mortgage loan originator will provide qualified applicants with a prequalification letter to present to your real estate professional.
2. Take a homebuyer certification course
Take the required homebuyer certification course at one of the local approved counseling agencies. Once complete, provide the certificate to Reliant.
3. Begin looking for houses
It is important to be aware of the market and your wants and needs so you are prepared when it’s time to put an offer in.
4. Make an offer on a house
Once an offer is accepted and you have an attorney approved purchase contact, provide the contract to Reliant.
5. Provide documents to Reliant
Provide all of the above documentation, as well as 30 days’ worth of recent paystubs and all W2 forms from the two most recent years, and any additional required documents to Reliant.
6. Reliant applies on your behalf
Once Reliant receives all of the above documentation, Reliant will apply for the grant on your behalf.
In order to qualify, anyone who will be listed on the mortgage must be a first-time homebuyer (someone who has not owned a home within the last three years).
Depending on the county where the property is located, the maximum annual household income is $79,600 or less for 1-2 person households, or $91,540 or less for households of 3+ people.
- Anyone over the age of 18 who will be living in the house must provide income verification, even if that person will not be on the mortgage.
Any buyer who does not own and occupy the home purchased through the Homebuyer Dream Program for at least five years may be required to pay back a portion of the grant funds.
Our Homebuyer Dream Program™ flyer includes information about the program, as well as all of the required steps and detailed eligibility guidelines.
First-time homebuyer certification courses
Wondering where to take a certified first-time homebuyer course? Here are some options.
First-time Homebuyer Workshop from the Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Rochester. Call to register: 585-546-3440. New! Coupon code is now available, follow link above for more information.
Homebuyer Education Class from the Housing Council at PathStone. Call to register: 585-546-3700 Ext. 3035.
additional first-time homebuyer mortgage programs
If you’re a credit-worthy, low- to moderate-income borrower — especially if you’re shopping for a home in one of our designated communities — this Fannie Mae program may be a fit.
With low, fixed rates and loan terms up to 30 years, HomeReady (offered through Reliant) can be combined with community grants through many municipalities to make buying your first home an achievable goal.
- Low down payment. Finance up to 97% of your purchase price with many borrower flexibilities.
- Flexible funding sources. With no minimum contribution from the homebuyer, this program has the flexibility to help you afford your first home.
- Home-ownership education. Ready for the responsibilities of home-ownership? We can help with that. Get an easy-to-use, free online course provided by Fannie Mae called HomeViewTM to help get you ready to own your home.
State of New York Mortgage Agency (SONYMA) offers low-interest mortgage loans and programs to help qualified buyers purchase their first homes. If you haven’t owned a home within the past three years, or if you’re a US veteran, this may be an option for you.
- Owner-occupied purchases only
- Minimum 3% down payment
- Purchase price and income limits apply
- Down payment assistance may be available