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ICBA Offers Tips for Homebuyers

Community Banks Offer Homebuyers Personal Attention to Meet Individual Needs

Washington, D.C. (June 20, 2006) —June is National Homeownership Month and the nearly 5,000 members of the Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA) help millions of Americans in communities across the nation become homeowners each year through the personal attention that only a local community bank can offer.

“Whether you are a first time homebuyer or ready to trade-up, an independent community bank can help prospective homebuyers find the appropriate financing solution for each individual’s circumstances,” says Terry J. Jorde, ICBA chairman, and president and CEO of CountryBank USA, Cando, N.D. “It’s important to have a lender who gives you personal attention, someone who knows you and will not treat you like just another number toward a quota. That lender is your community banker.”

In addition to working with a community banker, ICBA offers the following tips to help future homeowners prepare for what will most likely be their largest financial transaction.

  1. Know your budget: how much you spend on rent, utilities, entertainment, clothing, food and transportation.
  2. Visit homes to learn what you are getting for your money and what fits your budget.
  3. Organize pay stubs, W-2 forms, tax returns (for self-employed), and bank and investment statements.
  4. Work with your community banker to find out how much you can borrow and what mortgage is right for you. Get pre-approved. It helps you shop for a home that fits your budget and shows sellers you are a serious buyer who can close on a home quickly.
  5. Check your credit report and bring it to your community banker. Credit reporting agencies must give you one free report annually. 
  6. Learn as much as you can about the home buying process – your community banker can help explain it to you. Look for classes on home buying and home maintenance. There are free online educational tools at www.hud.gov. Don’t be taken in by promises of low payments and 100% financing. Most come with strings. 
  7. Always ask for a written good faith estimate to compare the real costs of your mortgage. It will tell you what your interest rate, monthly payment and closing costs will be.
  8. If you are a first time home buyer, ask if there are special first time home buyer loan programs available, or grant programs to assist with down payment and closing costs.

“Talking first to a community banker is a great idea,” adds Jorde. “He or she looks at your mortgage as one of many financial products you will need over the course of your lifetime,” says Jorde. “A community banker wants to establish a long-term relationship with customers and takes the extra steps necessary to give potential homebuyers the service and attention they need.”