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ICBA Offers Tips for Homebuyers

Work with Your Community Banker to Find the Mortgage That's Right for You

Washington, D.C. (May 27, 2008)—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 throughout the country to become and stay homeowners each year through the personal attention that only a local community bank can provide.

"Community bankers want to establish long-term relationships with their customers and take the extra steps necessary to give potential homebuyers the service and attention they need," said Cynthia Blankenship, ICBA chairman and vice chairman of Bank of the West, Irving, Texas. "We are not only interested in helping a homebuyer purchase a home, but in helping them find a mortgage they can live with so they stay in the home as long as they want to. And in today's challenging mortgage marketplace, community banks are stable, common sense lenders with money available to lend and a good source for families to turn to for their home financing needs."

In addition to working with a community banker, ICBA offers the following suggestions:

  1. Know your budget: how much you spend on rent, utilities, entertainment, clothing, food and transportation.
  2. Organize paperwork: 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.
  4. Work with your community banker to find out how much you can borrow and which mortgage is right for you.
  5. 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.
  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, www.federalreserve.gov/consumers.htm.
  7. Investigate if there are special first-time homebuyer loan or grant programs available to assist with down payment and closing costs.
  8. Ask your loan officer to carefully explain the wide variety of mortgage options available including rate adjustments and other loan features so that you aren't surprised by payment increases down the road. Don't be taken in by promises of low payments and 100 percent financing.
  9. Request 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.
  10. Attend real estate open houses to learn what you are getting for your money and what fits your budget.

For more information about ICBA Homeownership Month, visit www.icba.org.