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Homeownership in the Digital Age

June 3, 2022

The Internet is much more than a tool for casual browsing. It’s ingrained in everything we do—from paying bills to shopping for a home. In fact, 95 percent of homebuyers used online tools as part of their search process and nearly a third of homes (3 out of 8) were viewed only online, according to the National Association of Realtors’ 2021 Home Buyer and Seller Generation Trends report. 

With so much information available at your fingertips, it can be hard to make sense of it all—especially for a process that can be as protracted and complicated as the purchase of a home. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. both have resources to help demystify the homebuying process. But having a working knowledge of the process and available programs to assist first-time homebuyers is a far cry from determining the right loan to meet a consumer’s unique financial needs and budget considerations.

The personal finance website NerdWallet found most consumers under 36 would prefer owning to renting, but postponed the purchase of a home because of real or perceived difficulties in affording it. That’s where a community bank like Heritage Bank comes in. Our expert lenders can help explain not only what you can afford and what to expect during the process, but other factors to consider when determining the right time to buy a home.

For those who are ready, there are several options available in addition to conventional loans, including mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration. FHA loans only require a 3.5 percent down payment and typically have higher loan-to-value ratios and lower credit score requirements than conventional loans (though buyers will have to refinance if they want to avoid paying private mortgage insurance for the life of the loan).

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs offers generous borrowing terms to service members, veterans and surviving spouses, often requiring no down payment or mortgage insurance. While the VA has only a few requirements for things like debt and sufficient income, VA lenders may add their own requirements. 

In addition to available federal homeownership and home-buying assistance programs, there are numerous programs sponsored by state and local governments, as well as other organizations, that make homeownership more affordable. 

During National Homeownership Month, Heritage Bank wants to remind you to be careful when obtaining a home loan on the internet. Do your homework and make sure you’re dealing with a reputable company. Better yet, contact us for help with the homebuying process. We service most of our loans locally, which is very important when the inevitable insurance claim pops up. And if you are not ready to take the plunge just yet, we can help you to establish a budget and set financial targets, so that when the time is right, you’ll have the know-how and the confidence to secure the keys to a home of your own.

Heritage Bank is an equal housing lender.

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