Spring flowers in a vase, on a table.

Wintertime Tips for Spring Home Buyers

February 13, 2019

By April Gleason, VP of Lending

In the middle of a cold Maine winter, it’s easy to find yourself longing for the refreshing warmth and feeling of opportunity that arrives with spring. If you’re thinking about buying a home this spring, you may be feeling extra antsy for the snow to melt so you can get started!

Fortunately, you don’t need to wait for spring. In fact, here are three things you can do this winter to set yourself up for success come spring:

  • Manage your own expectations. Real estate transactions are often the most significant financial investments a person makes in their lifetime. Understanding your own financial readiness, and the home buying process, including limitations of certain programs on what you can and cannot finance, is critical to avoid disappointing yourself and wasting precious time and money.Scanning home listing websites or talking to a realtor can be a good way to satisfy your curiosity or convince yourself whether you’re serious about buying a home. However, there’s no replacement for taking a first-time home buyer education course to learn the process, ask questions in a no-pressure environment, and manage your expectations.
  • Meet with your lender. Before you risk falling in love with a property, meet with a lender to understand your financing options, and the limitations of certain programs you’re thinking of using. Maine has historically old housing stock, and depending on the financing plan to use, a property may not be eligible if it doesn’t meet certain requirements, such as GFCI receptacles or lead-free paint. Some programs, like USDA RD, are only available for properties within designated rural development zones.

It’s usually a good idea to meet with at least three lenders, but don’t discount credit unions! You’re probably reading this because you’re a UCU member, but you don’t have to be to apply with UCU. Unlike some credit unions, UCU only requires membership prior to closing. UCU also handles all loan servicing in-house, so your loan stays local. And, UCU may be able to work with you if you have a nontraditional credit history. Just ask!

Even if you aren’t ready to commit, our Mortgage Loan Originators are more than happy to answer your questions and help you understand the range of financing programs available through UCU. It’s easy to focus on the price, but the safety, soundness, type, and even the location of a property can all be determining factors.

  • Find a first-time-friendly realtor and home inspector. Good realtors are busy realtors. As the busy spring season heats up, it can be tricky to find realtors willing to accommodate the needs of a first-time buyer. The same goes for home inspectors. Ask around, read reviews, and don’t hesitate to interview a few before you make a choice.

As a mortgage lender with 15 years of experience, I can tell you truly that every loan is unique. UCU works with every borrower individually and to develop a personalized mortgage plan and help you intercept roadblocks and challenges ahead of time. Let us know how we can help you! We have branches, ATMs and Video Tellers all across the state of Maine. For more information savings and financial education, visit our member education portal for tips and guidance.