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10 Steps in Your Homebuying Process

Buying your first home can be overwhelming. But if you break it down into simple steps, you can feel much more confident and focus on the excitement of the process rather than the stress of it. Here’s what you can expect when buying a home.

1.       Save Up for Your Down Payment and Closing Costs

Before you fill out any paperwork, start saving up for your down payment. Most traditional home loans require 20% of the home’s purchase price up front, while other types of mortgages, like an FHA loan, require much less. At Dominion Energy Credit Union, we offer several low downpayment options. Regardless, you’ll want to make sure you have enough on hand to put down a good amount of money. The more you put down up front, the lower your monthly mortgage payments will be. You’ll also need money to pay for your closing costs if you’re not financing them into your mortgage. The average closing costs for a home in the United States is $6,905, per Bankrate.

2.       Clean Up Your Credit

Check your credit report and credit score before applying for a loan. By law, you can get a free copy of your credit report every 12 months at Be sure to review your credit report for any errors and dispute them early on in your home buying process. It can take time for credit bureaus to change incorrect information, so cleaning up your credit may take a while. Learn more about how to improve your credit score with Dominion Energy Credit Union’s credit score tips and sign up to get your free credit score and score monitoring in Digital Banking.

3.       Determine How Much Home You Can Afford

Before you start shopping for houses, determine your budget to get an idea of what you can afford. Use Dominion Energy Credit Union’s mortgage calculator to get started. This will give you and your real estate agent a good idea of your range. Remember, you may get approved for more than you can realistically afford, since most calculators and mortgage companies don’t ask about or factor in every regular expense. It’s wise to add a dose of common sense to any mortgage payment decision to ensure you can comfortably afford your monthly payments.

4.       Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage

Another step you’ll want to complete before house shopping is to get pre-approved or pre-qualified for a home loan. Dominion Energy Credit Union’s preapproval article can help you understand the benefits and how to get started.

5.       Shop for a Home Within Your Budget

Now comes the fun part: shopping for your dream home. Before you begin, determine which amenities are nonnegotiable for you and which aren’t. It’s also important to consider the neighborhood and quality of local school districts. Ask your friends, family, or Dominion Energy Credit Union loan advisor to refer a good real estate agent who can help you navigate the process and check out our posts on finding your home sweet home.

6.       Make an Offer on the House You Want

When you find the home you’d like to buy, it’s time to make an offer and negotiate. Your real estate agent should be able to guide you through this process and handle everything on your behalf. A good rule of thumb is to offer at least 5% below asking price. Make sure you know the selling prices of other comparable homes as well so you can negotiate accordingly.

7.       Put a Deposit Down

Once you and the seller have both agreed to the home’s purchase price, you’ll need to put down a deposit to show you are serious and secure the home. This money will go into an escrow account.

8.       Submit Your Mortgage Application

To finance your home, you’ll need to submit your mortgage application. Dominion Energy Credit Union offers a variety of mortgage options, from fixed-rate mortgages and adjustable-rate mortgages to, FHA loans, VA loans, and more. We offer some low downpayment options that can help make homebuying more affordable so you can get into your new home sooner. Loan payment terms also vary and typically range from 15 to 30 years for most loan types. Talk to your mortgage officer to figure out what works best for you and your family.

9.       Close the Sale on Your Home

You’ll need to have your home inspected before you can move in. Home inspections are a great way to figure out if the house has any major defects before you are locked into the sale. This can also help with your negotiation, as many buyers ask sellers to fix things or lower the price based on the inspection results. Once all terms are met, you will need to deposit the funds and the seller will need to deposit the deed. Depending on where you live, this process may vary. It’s also important to hire an attorney who can walk you through all the paperwork that needs to be signed.

10.   Move Into Your New Home

Once you’re done completing the process, you’ll be handed the keys to your new home. Start packing and calling up your friends to help you move, or get ready to hire a moving company. Don’t forget to set the date for your housewarming party!

Buying a home is a major milestone and should be handled with care. Make sure you find friendly and knowledgeable people along the way to help make your homebuying journey as seamless as possible. If you’re ready to talk to a mortgage advisor, contact Dominion Energy Credit Union today.