Published May 9, 2019
“You can’t always have everything you want, but you can have the things that really matter to you” – Marisa Mayer
Purchasing your first home is a big deal. A really big deal. Your first home will be a place for many memories; but before you get there, it is important to understand the financial implications.
How many bedrooms and bathrooms do your family need/want? How much square footage would you like to have? Does the size of yard matter to you? What can you afford? These are all questions home-buyers must answer. What decisions are best for you, your family, and your wallet?
These decisions will narrow your sights as you search for your first home. So, what’s next?
Step 1: Understand the importance of 20% down
The first thing that most people look at when shopping for a home is the price tag. What most people do not consider is the reduced interest they will receive when they come up with a 20% or greater down payment.
So the key is saving money in the negotiation process for the home’s price, and saving money long term in the form of a healthy down payment, and a competitive interest rate. If you can do both, you’re sure to find yourself relaxed in a new home, with more money in your pocket!
So let’s look at what this 20% down thing is all about.
“Putting 20 percent down allows you to avoid private mortgage insurance.” – Forbes
Private Mortgage Insurance (or PMI) is extra insurance that lenders require from home-buyers who obtain loans in which the down payment is less than 20% of the sales price or appraised value.
So basically, PMI is avoidable with a good down payment (20% or greater).
If you are wondering how much PMI costs, for a $100k house the average PMI monthly payment last year was $83.33. That’s $1,000 a year that you could save by having a great down payment. For more on this please check this supporting article from USAA.
A great way to get to this 20% down we are talking about is a Mortgage Assistance Program.
There are many great programs for making home-buying more affordable. One of our favorites is the Cherokee Nation Mortgage Assistance Program for qualified Cherokee citizens.
The Mortgage Assistance Program (MAP) allows Cherokee citizens to reach their personal financial goals by providing down payment assistance up to $20,000.00.
Step 2: Apply for the Cherokee Nation Mortgage Assistance Program (MAP)
- To apply, it must be your first time buying a home. There are exceptions for some people: such as those that formerly owned a mobile home, and for those with documented domestic violence cases from their first home. *Note: if you are one of these exceptions, remember to make a note of it on your application.*
- The Head of Household or spouse must be a member of a federally recognized tribe. They do prefer Cherokee Citizens, but you do not have to be one to apply.
“You do not have to be Cherokee to apply for the Cherokee Nation Mortgage Assistance Program.”
- Applicants must be willing to reside within the Cherokee Nation’s jurisdictional boundaries and must obtain a loan through an approved lender. There is no active list of approved lenders through the Cherokee Nation, however, we have laid out some tips for you in Step 4.
- Purchase size is limited to five (5) acres and the purchase price may not exceed $150,000. An onsite environmental review and inspection will be conducted, before the time of purchase and home buyer’s education classes are required.
- Participants must own and reside in the home for a specified period of time or a prorated payback will apply.
Step 3: Pick a great real estate agent
“We don’t have the information (about real estate agents) that we have about other service professionals,” – Stephen Brobeck
A great real estate agent will help you on your journey to find your first home. Try talking with people who have done business with local real estate agents, and see what their experiences were like.
Make sure that your potential real estate agent is licensed with the right credentials and hasn’t had any disciplinary actions against them or any complaints. How much experience have they had in their field? You will be able to find all of this information online. For more information on this, check this article.
How well do they know the area? Ask about a property that has recently sold to see if they are up to date on the market. Real estate agents will have their own listings online, but you want to know if they are knowledgeable in the area as a whole.
Consider asking if they have received any professional awards. This builds their credibility and can be a make or break when deciding between two agents. Peer-given awards are also a valuable indicator of a great realtor. They show that the realtor is respected among their peers.
Look at their certifications as well. Many realtors will carry multiple certificates which vouch for the breadth and depth of their Real Estate knowledge.
So now that you’ve found a great real estate agent, it’s time to find the home!
Step 4: Figure out Which Mortgage is Right for You—and Get Pre-Approved
Now that you’ve nailed down your numbers, it’s time to start shopping for a mortgage lender with a reputation for good customer service and timely closings. Not only that, but you have to look for one that understands the (MAP) process.
Banks like Bank of Cherokee County have helped (MAP) participants receive the lending they need since the inception of the program.
Here’s a link Bank of Cherokee County’s website.
Or call directly: 918-456-3900
You’ll likely have a lot of questions—like how long the process will take and what the qualifying guidelines are—so when speaking with your lender, choose one that answers them all satisfactorily.
Step 5: Find the Right Home for You
Home hunting is fun & stressful! It’s important to first by having an open discussion about what your dream home will be like. What decisions are best for you, your family, and your wallet? It’s great to get things on paper as you start to look at your checklist for the right home for you.
Another thing to consider is maintenance. Is there anything that needs to be fixed or updated in your new home? Even small renovations can make your new home, more you. But, the costs should be accounted for. Start a budget for these fun projects that will bring new life to your home.
A new coat of paint goes a long way for a small price! What color pallet are you looking for in your new home? Do you want to install new hardware around the kitchen and bathrooms? Do all of the doorknobs match?
If you are looking at a house, considering all of the possibilities listed above, you may have just found your dream home! If you can see yourself living there, making it your own, and wanting to tell all of your friends about it… you have found the right house for you!
Step 6: Negotiate Price and Make a Great Offer
A tip you’ll hear from many great negotiators is to understand who you are negotiating with.
A great first step is negotiating price on a home is to understand the motivation of the seller. Is the seller looking to sell fast? Is he or she holding out for a great price? These are pieces of information you’ll want to gather as you are negotiating your best price.
Next, you’ll want to remain realistic. No home seller is happy with the “super low-ball offer.”
Once you give a realistic first offer, be ready to move on. The number one tactic you have in your negotiations is the ability to walk away. Maybe it isn’t your best deal, and just like the fish in the sea, there are always other homes…
Negotiating after the inspection is key. A good thing is that the Cherokee Nation Mortgage Assistance Program requires an inspection, so this one will already be done at this point.
Be enthusiastic and make the seller like you. People tend to work with multiple buyers, and the seller liking you can only work to your advantage in the deal. Remember, it used to be their house and whether they like it or not, they are emotionally attached to it.
“The seller’s first choice is usually someone they like so if you have a chance to talk to them and find some things in common you’re in a better negotiating position.” – Anthony Grosso
Step 7: Conclusion
When you set out to purchase your first home, realize that it is complicated, and complicated things take time and attention to do them right.
From here, we start to look at the importance of a great down payment, and how it can significantly lower how much you pay.
Once we understand the importance of a good down payment – there is a great option available for members of a federally recognized tribe in the form of the Cherokee Nation Assistance Program.
Once you apply for this following our tips from above, we recommend finding a great real estate agent. A great real estate agent can help you with the complicated legality of purchasing a new home.
After this, it’s important to get pre-approved as you start shopping for a new home. Many qualified lenders, like the Bank of Cherokee County, can merge your Cherokee Nation Mortgage Assistance with a mortgage to get you set up conveniently for your monthly payments.
Now everything is set and your home shopping can be done with peace of mind! Now just make your checklist and try to find the perfect home for you.
Understanding the negotiation process is the final step. You’ve done all the preliminary steps to save yourself money, now it’s time to negotiate the best price.
Once you’ve completed all of our steps, here is a great checklist for once you have moved into your new home.
We hope our Complete Guide to the Cherokee Nation Mortgage Assistance Program helps you navigate one of the most important investments a person can make, purchasing their first home.
For more on the lending side of things, check out all of our Home Loan Options or visit our Home Page. You got this, house hunters!