Home Buying Amid COVID-19 The country – and the world – has largely come to a halt this past month amid the COVID-19 outbreak. However, there are still many people looking to buy a home right now. I can assure you this is still possible. There are many ways to take advantage of lower interest rates and make the home buying process a little smoother during this otherwise disruptive time. Get Your Finances in OrderWhen you think you’re ready to purchase a home, sit down and compile a list of monthly expenses –not just credit cards and car loans, but utility bills, commuting expenses, Netflix and other streaming services, and other recurring subscriptions and monthly fees. While these expenses may seem small, they can make a big difference between what you think you can afford and what you actually can afford. You want to buy what you can comfortably afford without giving up the things you love – like vacations or movie nights – or stretching your finances too thin in this time of uncertainty. Don’t Forget the Upfront CostsThe down payment and closing costs are what you pay to obtain the home and mortgage. In most cases, you will be required to make a down payment of at least 3%. If you are purchasing a home over the conventional loan limits of $510,400 for a single family residence, you will be required to make a down payment of 10% in addition to the closing costs. The closing costs consist of fees or expenses that the lender passes on to the buyer in the form of a credit report fee, appraisal fee, tax service fee, lenders attorney fees, and any origination or processing fees the lender charges. Other fees include the title insurance your attorney will order, which makes up a good portion of the closing fees, the home inspection, your attorney fee and any prepaid items. Prepaid items often cause borrowers a lot of stress. These are not actually considered closing costs; however, you as the buyer are responsible for paying them at time of closing. Prepaid items consist of property taxes in advance and reimbursing the seller for any taxes they already paid as well as a certain amount to set up your escrow account. Try making a checklist of all these fees and write out the costs so you are not surprised by any upfront expenses. Taking Out the MortgageYour credit score is extremely important in the home buying process. The higher the score the better the interest rate! Everyone is entitled to one free credit report each year from all three of the national credit reporting agencies, which you can request by going to www.annualcreditreport.com/index.action. Check carefully for any errors or derogatory credit reporting, and if something is incorrect it can be addressed and possibly fixed before applying for your loan. Affinity has several different mortgage types so you can find the loan that works best for you. While this process may seem a bit daunting, Affinity’s experts are always here to assist with the details. Here is what first-time home buyers Michael and Liz had to say about their experience: “Buying our first home was a huge milestone and something we had looked forward to for many years. But buying a home can be a scary and intimidating process. We were worried that we would hit speed bumps along the way, but as long-time Affinity members, we were confident that our mortgage was one part of the process we wouldn't have to worry about. As expected, we did experience a few surprises, but our mortgage officer kept the purchase process moving on-track and on-schedule. We're thrilled to have finally purchased our first home and thank the whole Affinity team for helping us to make our longtime dream a reality!” While right now is a time to assess your savings and avoid unnecessary spending, it can also be a great time to buy your new home, if you do it right. Meet with a mortgage loan officer today to plan ahead and ensure your home buying process is as smooth a process as possible. For additional information and updates from Affinity about COVID-19, please visit https://www.affinityfcu.com/banking/we're-here-for-you.aspx This information is for informational purposes only and is intended to provide general guidance and does not constitute legal, tax, or financial advice. Each person’s circumstances are different and may not apply to the specific information provided. You should seek the advice of a financial professional, tax consultant, and/or legal counsel to discuss your specific needs before making any financial or other commitments regarding the matters related to your condition are made.