Home Buying Tips in the Digital Age

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. Among all generations of home buyers, the first step taken in the home search process was to look online for properties, according to the National Association of Realtors’ 2022 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 study also found that first-time home buying among younger generations is on the rise, with over 4 out of 5 younger millennial home buyers – 81% – purchasing for the first time. Just under half – 48% – of older millennial buyers were first-time buyers, making it even more imperative to have a firm understanding of the factors involved in purchasing 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.

That’s where a community bank like Greenfield Cooperative 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. Ask about First Time Home buyer options, such as the Fannie Mae Home Ready product, which offers a smaller down payment option compared to traditional mortgages. 

In addition to available federal homeownership and home-buying assistance programs, there are numerous programs and grants sponsored by state and local governments, as well as other organizations, that make homeownership more affordable.   Greenfield Cooperative Bank has participated in several down payment assistance grant programs through the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston.  

Buying a home is one of the most important decisions you can make in your life. It involves a lot of research, planning, and negotiation. Partnering with a local lender to help you navigate your options is a great first step. Additionally, here are some tips to help you as you begin the homebuying process:

  • Get pre-approved for a mortgage. Before you start making offers, you need to know how much you can afford to borrow and what kind of interest rate you can get. Getting pre-approved for a mortgage can save you time and hassle, as well as show sellers that you are serious and qualified.
  • Use online tools to narrow down your search. There are many websites and apps that can help you find homes that match your criteria, such as location, size, price, and features. You can also use online maps, street views, and virtual tours to get a feel for the neighborhood and the property.
  • Hire a reputable real estate agent. While you can do a lot of research online, you still need a professional who can guide you through the legal and financial aspects of buying a home. A good agent can also help you find hidden gems, negotiate the best deal, and handle any issues that may arise during the transaction.
  • Protect yourself from scams and frauds. The digital age also brings some risks and challenges for homebuyers. Be wary of online listings that seem too good to be true, or that ask for personal or financial information upfront. Always verify the identity and credentials of the seller, agent, lender, or inspector. And never send money or sign documents without reading them carefully and understanding them fully.