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ICBA Offers Tips for Homebuyers

Washington, D.C. (June 7, 2010)— June is National Homeownership Month, and the Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA) and the nation’s nearly 8,000 community banks continue to help Americans in communities throughout the country become, and remain, homeowners each year through the personal attention that only a local community bank can provide.

“Community banks take the extra steps necessary to give potential homebuyers the service and attention they need,” said Jim MacPhee, ICBA chairman and CEO of Kalamazoo County State Bank in Schoolcraft, Mich. “They can help their customers evaluate whether the time is right for them to purchase a home, determine the most affordable mortgage options for their situation and provide them with information to help the process go more smoothly.”

ICBA offers the following suggestions for homebuyers:

  1. Know all the sources and amounts of your monthly income and know your budget, including how much you spend on rent, utilities, entertainment, clothing, food and transportation.
  2. Gather and organize paperwork, such as pay stubs, W-2 forms, tax returns and bank and investment statements.
  3. Check your credit report and bring it to your community banker. Credit reporting agencies must give you one free report annually. Access your credit at www.ftc.gov/freereports.
  4. Work with your community banker to figure out how much you can borrow and which mortgage product is right for you. Your community banker will carefully explain the mortgage options of each mortgage product available, including rate adjustments, fees and other loan features, so you aren’t surprised by payment increases down the road.
  5. Talk to your community bank before you begin looking for a home. Your community banker can tell you what current mortgage rates are and help you understand how that translates into monthly mortgage payments. This will help you shop for a home that fits your budget and shows sellers you are an educated homebuyer.
  6. Learn as much as you can about the home-buying process. In addition to talking with your community banker, look for classes on home buying and maintenance. Some community banks offer seminars and there are free online educational tools at www.hud.gov.
  7. Check with your local state, city and county government agencies for special first-time-homebuyer loan or grant programs available to assist with down payment and closing costs.
  8. Once you have spoken to your community bank and know what you can afford, stop by real estate open houses to see what’s available in your price range.
  9. Know your rights. Learn how the Fair Housing Act protects you. http://www.hud.gov/offices/fheo/FHLaws/yourrights.cfm

“Potential homebuyers should visit their local community bank to learn what their mortgage options are,” MacPhee said. “Not only are community banks interested in helping homebuyers purchase a home, they also want to help borrowers find a mortgage they can afford and afford to keep.”

For more information about ICBA, visit www.icba.org. To find a community bank, visit ICBA’s community bank locator by clicking here.