Step 1: Although it may not always be feasible if you live in an expensive real estate market, try to keep your total housing payment under 30 percent of your gross monthly income. When you spend much more than that on your mortgage, you risk becoming “house poor” — you might live in a beautiful home but find it difficult to save or even cover other monthly expenses.

Step 2: It’s time to be more intentional about purchasing your home, so take a home buyer counseling class, check your credit reports, pay down your debt, and avoid taking out new credit before buying a home. Save cash for a down payment, and get your documentation in order.  

Step 3: Mortgage pre-approval is a free and non-binding process that presents you as a serious, qualified buyer when buying your first home. Comparing two mortgages can be confusing. There are fixed-rates and adjustable rates, or ARMs, which are priced very differently. You can take out a mortgage for 30 years or as little as five years (interest rates are typically higher the longer the term of the loan).   Check banks, credit unions, and community development corporations to see what you qualify for.   Turned down for pre-approval?   Turn to MMCDC (Midwest Minnesota Community Development Corporation) for financial counseling and other resources to help achieve your goal.

Step 4: Enjoy your new home!   During this process there is a lot to learn about maintaining a home, and perhaps you will look at selling your home in the future, or unfortunate circumstances lead to foreclosure or other needs.   There are resources to help you through.

Resources:

Homebuyer Education: A group class that provides information on the homebuyer process from start to finish, including financing options, creditworthiness, budget discussions, and a review of the legal documents involved.

  1. Local Home Stretch class schedules are available at https://www.weii.website/homeownership-services/home-stretch/.   No charge.
  2. Statewide Home Stretch class schedules are available at http://www.hocmn.org/buyingahome/home-stretch-workshop/
  3. Local Pathways Home (a Native American focused curriculum) class schedules are available at https://www.weii.website/homeownership-services/pathways-home/ . No charge.
  4. Online Framework classes are available at https://www.weii.website/homeownership-services/framework/ .   There are fees for this class.
  1. Homebuyer Counseling: An in-person meeting or virtual exchange designed for those who are within a year of purchasing a home. These meetings are often used to finalize budgets, compare lending products, and provide a brief review of the home buying process.   No charge.   A counselor can be reached at ahanson@mmcdc.com or 218-844-7020 or via web inquiry at https://www.weii.website/homeownership-services/
  2. Financial Wellness: An in-person meeting or virtual exchange designed for those who are more than a year from reaching their financial goal (whether that is home purchase or any other financial goal.) These sessions consist of working on credit repair, budgeting, paying off debt, setting goals, and maximizing income.   No charge. A counselor can be reached at ahanson@mmcdc.com or 218-844-7020 or via web inquiry at https://www.weii.website/homeownership-services/
  3. Additional Home Buyer Resources
    1. Home Buyer’s Handbook https://www.ag.state.mn.us/Consumer/Handbooks/HmBuyers/Default.asp
    2. Minnesota Homeownership Center hocmn.org
  4. Credit Repair and Debt Management Services in the area
    1. LSS of MN (888)-577-2227 or cccs.org
    2. The Village Family Services (800)-450-4019 or www.HelpWithMoney.org
  5. Financial Literacy Online Services
    1. FDIC- Money Smart fdic.gov/consumers/consumer/moneysmart/index.html (available in multiple languages)
    2. Help Minnesota Save helpmnsave.org
    3. Wells Fargo- Hands on Banking handsonbanking.org
  6. Rental Resources
    1. Renter 101 Online Course http://www.extension.umn.edu/family/live-healthy-live-well/healthy-homes/renter-101/
    2. Search rental housing listings in Minnesota   https://www.housinglink.org/HousingResources
    3. Landlords and Tenants: Responsibilities https://www.ag.state.mn.us/Consumer/Handbooks/LT/default.asp
    4. Moving into an Apartment https://www.ag.state.mn.us/Consumer/Publications/MovingIntoApartment.asp
  1. Homeowner Resources
    1. “Maintaining a Healthy Home” http://www.extension.umn.edu/family/live-healthy-live-well/healthy-homes/maintaining-healthy-home/
    2. Home Sellers Handbook https://www.ag.state.mn.us/Consumer/Handbooks/HmSellers/default.asp
    3. Facing Mortgage Foreclosure https://www.ag.state.mn.us/Consumer/Publications/FacingMortgageForeclosure.asp
    4. Housing & Energy Assistance http://www.mahube.org/services/family-development-and-housing/ http://www.mahube.org/services/energy-programs/
    5. Midwest Bank Loan Resource