Expert advice for first-time homebuyers

Published on Jul 01, 2021

Expert advice for first-time homebuyers

When you’re ready to buy a home, you might start to wonder whether you should get pre-qualified or pre-approved. You may not even know the difference.

What it means to get pre-qualified

Getting pre-qualified is the first step to buying a home and taking on a mortgage. It’s a simple — and free — process.
It can be done in about an hour over the phone or in-person, at your convenience. We’ll even come to your home or place of work. All you have to do is give us basic financial information and we’ll let you know your home price range.

You’re pre-qualified. Now what?

Once you’ve been pre-qualified, you can confidently start looking for your first home. If you don’t already have a real estate agent to help you narrow down your search, we can help you. One of the benefits of working with Valley is we’re familiar with the communities in which we live and work. Often, we have established long-term relationships with well-respected real estate professionals in the area, and may be able to recommend one to you.

When you’re ready to make a serious bid, we can help you with the next phase — getting pre-approved.

What’s the difference between being pre-qualified and pre-approved?

When we pre-qualify you for a mortgage amount, we do it by getting basic information about your finances. When it comes time to get pre-approved, we take a deeper dive into your financial information.

To get pre-approved, you’ll need to complete an official mortgage application and give the necessary documentation to allows us to check your credit and financial background. This will help us tell you exactly how much you’ll be able to afford in terms of a mortgage and interest rates.

Here’s what you’ll need to provide to your banker for pre-approval:

  • Proof of income (usually in the form of pay-stubs going back at least one month)
  • List of assets, including checking, savings, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, IRAs, 401k and any other marketable securities
  • Credit report (a banking representative will do this for you, you won’t need to bring it with you)

Once you’re pre-approved, we’ll help you determine which type of mortgage is right for you. We offer a wide range of options, including mortgages with low down payments, and our lending team is made up of some of the most talented mortgage experts in the business.

Customers we’ve helped buy their first home

No matter what your financial situation, we can help you. Here are a few examples of real Valley customers that benefited from working with us to buy their first home.

  • Rosario and Peter, a young couple looking to buy their first home, attended a presentation for first-time home buyers hosted by a local real estate agent. It was there they met a Valley home loan consultant who provided information on home financing. He went over the important things, such as knowing when to buy, how much home you can afford, the factors that contribute to your credit score, how your credit score impacts interest rates and pre-approval, and a variety of mortgage options Peter and Rosario didn’t even know existed. In addition, the Bank had a special offer: $500 off closing costs for first-time homebuyers who did autopay through a Valley account. Six months later, when Rosario and Peter decided they were ready to buy, it’s no surprise they contacted Valley to help them through the process.
  • Ann and Tom both had modest incomes, but they always wanted to own a home in which to raise their children. They went to a class on how to afford homeownership sponsored by a local housing agency, which is where they saw a representative from Valley speak about how to obtain a mortgage. She also mentioned special programs geared toward first-time homebuyers like Ann and Tom. They ended up working with her to buy their first home, and she set them up with a mortgage for less than 5% down. They didn’t even know that was a possibility until they worked with Valley.