First Time Home Buyer Tips

First Time Home Buyer Tips

Not sure where to start when you're ready to purchase your first home? Ann Tong (NMLS ID 506936), our First Time Home Buyer Specialist, is here to answer your questions!


What's my credit score?

Knowing your credit score will help you know when you are ready to begin the mortgage process. You can go online and pay for a copy of your three credit scores at any of the three credit bureau websites:



We suggest retrieving your credit scores from all three credit bureaus as your lender will calculate and use the median of all three credit scores. If you use Credit Karma, please be aware that your score with the credit bureaus may be significantly different than what Credit Karma estimates.


How much can I afford?

There are many financial factors that first time home buyers aren't aware of when they begin the home buying process. When setting your budget for your mortgage payment, remember additional expenses such as utilities, groceries, day care, car maintenance, and home maintenance.


You should always budget for "what ifs" such as your hot water heater going out or your air conditioner breaking down. The most important thing to add to your budget is "fun" time.


Save for down payment, closing costs

Our First Time Home Buyer program requires a 3% down payment. Closing costs vary by the type of mortgage loan and the amount financed, but you can expect to spend at least $2,500 to $4,000.


These costs include your 1-year home owner's insurance that is required to be paid before closing.


Get Pre-approved for a Mortgage Loan

We want to be the credit union you choose when you purchase your first home. Ann will explain and walk you through the entire process to keep your loan moving quickly and yet clearly for you.


We understand that you may not be available when the credit union is open. We offer flexible, anytime appointments to fit into your busy schedule. We want to help you in the home buying process, not hinder you!


Buy a House You Like

Begin the process with an educated realtor. Realtors know the local area and can help you find a perfect home for your needs. If you don't already have a realtor or aren't sure who to contact, we can match you with the right realtor or provide you with the information you need to make the home buying process a breeze!


What to Look for inside the House

✔ Turn on the taps in the kitchen, bathroom, and laundry to check water pressure

✔ Check to make sure the hot water system is large enough for your needs

✔ Check for proper insulation

✔ Check for major cracks in the walls or if the doors stick

✔ Be extra cautious for recently painted homes

✔ Check for dampness in the walls – peeling or bubbled paint are good indicators of dampness

✔ Check the bathrooms for mold

✔ Check to make sure all windows open and close with ease

✔ Tap the walls to do a preliminary termite check

✔ Good storage like built-ins and sheds can save you money in the future

✔ Are any rooms oddly shaped that may be difficult to remodel?

✔ Are there sufficient outlets?

✔ Is there a bathroom on the same level as the bedrooms?

✔ Are the bedrooms on the same level? (This helps with small children.)

✔ Is the wiring updated?

✔ Look for cracked tiles or loose grout

✔ Measure spaces in kitchen to make sure appliances will fit

✔ Make sure your furniture will fit in the rooms

✔ Are the cabinets made from good materials?

✔ How old are the floor coverings?

✔ Does the house have central heating and air conditioning?

✔ If so, how old are the units?


What to Look for outside the House

✔ Are there any factories close by?

✔ Is it close to public transportation, parks, schools, rec centers, or shopping?

✔ Ask about the neighbors

✔ Is there a lot of traffic?

✔ Check the landscaping for large holes

✔ Is there a giant power pole nearby?

✔ Drive around the neighborhood to get a feel for the location

✔ Is the landscaping high or low maintenance?

✔ Do the neighbor's trees block your view or hang in your yard?

✔ Is there a fence or is a fence required?

✔ Is there a septic tank and has it been checked?

✔ Is there a pool and how well has it been maintained?

✔ Does the yard drain well?

✔ What is the condition of the sheds or pergolas?

✔ Check the condition of the roof

✔ Check for termites where wood touches the ground

✔ Look under the house for general dampness

✔ Examine the orientation of the house – poor position can make it too hot or too cold

✔ Check any external plumbing for leaks

✔ Are the gutters in good shape and allowing for proper drainage?

✔ Does the house need external paint or updates?

✔ Is the driveway in good shape and allowing for proper drainage?

✔ Does the house need external paint or updates?

✔ Is the driveway in good condition and sufficient for your needs?

✔ Check to make sure the garage doors function properly

✔ Does the house look straight?

Credit qualifications, terms, and conditions apply. Millstream Area Credit Union is registered with the Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System (NMLS ID is 393171).