Win $10,000 Toward Your First Home

Six reasons to quit paying your landlord's mortgage and make the move to homeownership

a down payment. Order your credit reports and take steps to boost your credit scores. Start shopping for mortgage rates at Websites such as www.lendingtree.com and www.bankrate.com. Begin to think about the type, size, and location of your first home.

If you make the most of your time as a renter, you’ll be prepared to buy a home long before renting becomes a pricey proposition. If you are realistic about how much home you can afford, your monthly mortgage should be equal to (maybe even less than) the rent you’re paying now.

Look at it this way: If you are renting a home, you are already paying a mortgage—your landlord’s. Isn’t it about time you put your hard-earned money toward a home of your own?

THERE’S A MORTGAGE WITH YOUR NAME ON IT
Perhaps you’ve been putting off looking into a mortgage because you don’t think your credit is good enough, or maybe you haven’t saved enough toward your down payment. Possibly, you’re waiting to get married and you haven’t met your future spouse yet, or you’re waiting until you earn a larger salary.

“A lot of people say, ‘I can’t get a house. I don’t qualify,’ ” says Maria. “Go and talk to someone to see if you do qualify. You’d be surprised at how many people think they can’t qualify for a home and in all actuality, things aren’t as bad as they think.”

There are many types of mortgage products available for people of all income levels. The sooner you start investigating the possibilities, the sooner you’ll discover a mortgage option that might be right for you. The Saulsbys’ solid credit scores helped them benefit from a 100% financing product that they didn’t know they qualified for until they started the home-buying process. But there are loan products for people with less-than-perfect credit, and first-time homebuyer products that allow you to qualify for a mortgage with a down payment as little as 3%. Fannie Mae (www.fanniemae.com) and Freddie Mac (www.freddiemac.com) are great sources of information on such loan programs.

YOU WILL PROTECT YOUR CREDIT
Renting doesn’t pr
ovide a positive incentive for maintaining good credit. However, when it comes to homeownership, you’ll have plenty of motive to establish and maintain good credit.

The rewards of cleaning up and protecting your credit start with the mortgage search, where the best credit scores (better than 700) qualify for the best terms and lowest interest rates, saving you thousands of dollars over the life of the loan. The benefits continue after you buy, as other organizations will approach you with lucrative offers. A good credit score will help you qualify for a home equity line of credit that can be used to consolidate other high-interest debt at lower interest rates. Car insurance rates and credit card rates are also generally lower for people with good credit scores.

YOU AND YOUR TAXES WILL GET SHELTER
Other than business ownership, a home is probably the only tax shelter available to average Americans. Conversely, there are almost no tax benefits to renting. In fact, the

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