Through the course of an average week, I receive several hundred (non-spam) emails, many of which are direct questions from consumers.
Here's one that I received in early October:
Hi Jason - I'm interested in the process of purchasing my first home. Not looking to spend more than $125K and know the areas I'm interested in. I currently rent for $1175/m and am sick of giving my funds away to someone else when I can afford to have that type of payment myself. Ideally I'd like to stay around $1000/m How do I go about getting pre-approved for a loan? I would be carrying the note by myself although I am married but my husband has bad credit and is self-employed.
I've been at my job for over 1 1/2 years. Do you think I might be eligible for a FHA or USDA loan?
I thought it might be worthwhile to discuss this one on my blog in an effort to help those who might be in a similar boat (which seems to be an increasing percentage of buyers).
With regard to the email above, I responded to let her know that she certainly might qualify for USDA or FHA financing, and I got her in contact with my friend and loan officer John Cannata
in the Dallas area, who has been handling the business that I have an opportunity to refer for buyers I work with here in Austin.
Rather than stopping there, however, and in order to give some general advice, I normally tell home buyers that the first step in the process is to speak with a trustworthy loan officer in order to determine what your current situation will allow. This will make your home search experience far more productive, since you won't waste time looking at places that are too expensive.
To find a good loan professional, you can ask your Realtor or speak with friends to see if they can offer solid recommendations.
If your credit is damaged and your scores are low, we can also recommend a credit repair specialist to help develop a plan for you.
I'm not a USDA financing specialist, so I won't delve into serious details here, but suffice it to say that it's one of the only zero-down loan programs available other than VA (military only). In a nutshell, the property must qualify for this particular type of financing, and it has to be in a low-density area, as defined by the USDA maps.
We help buyers in any price range, and I'm happy to walk first-time home buyers through the entire process. Let me know how we can help! Feel free to call or email me anytime. :)