There are many pros and cons of being a homeowner, and there’s no exact right time or place to purchase your first home. On the one hand, you’re investing in property and putting down roots in a community. On the other hand, you no longer have the flexibility of renting, and unexpected costs can easily crop up. If you’re thinking about buying your first home, here are a few questions to consider before you dive right into your house search.

Does the math add up?

It may seem obvious, but buying a home is more expensive than simply making a down payment and committing to monthly mortgage payments. With homeownership comes more financial responsibility. When things break and need repair, do you plan to hire someone or take care of it yourself? How much will it cost for you to furnish your new home, inside and outside? Homes also come with taxes and insurance costs – do you have a general sense for what you’d be paying in your ideal neighborhood? Local insurance agents and property assessors’ websites can be very helpful resources. Based on your savings and monthly income, you can then determine your lower-cost home option and your higher-cost home option. It’s important to know upfront what you can truly afford to spend on a house while accounting for the rest of life’s planned and unplanned expenses.

How strong is your credit score?

Be sure you keep tabs on your credit report and FICO score, which will factor into your total loan costs. Look closely through your free annual credit report and check for any errors. Contact the appropriate credit-reporting bureau (Experian, Equifax or TransUnion) to make sure any issues are resolved. Maintaining a strong credit score will help you on any loan or additional line of credit you might need to apply for.

Are you tapping into available resources?

A mortgage loan officer provides much more than your mortgage rate. During a free consultation, they can help discuss your goals, financial situation and loan options so you make the best decision for your budget. Be sure to ask lots of questions and get clarification on any part of the process that is confusing to you. Before evening beginning your home search, ask how you can get pre-qualified and what you can do to learn more.

Exploring the answers to these questions can go a long way. Although the prep-work may seem daunting, a fresh budget, strong credit score and expert loan officer are vital resources to have by your side before your actual house search even begins.


By Phil Ingraham, Vice President, Senior Mortgage Consultant at Camden National Bank

Phil has over 17 years of mortgage lending experience. He helps homeowners and homebuyers find the best possible financing solution to fit their individual needs, and he brings comprehensive knowledge of the pricing and underwriting procedures to guide customers through the process. Phil is well-versed in all aspects of residential lending, including Jumbo, Portfolio and Construction loan products, and he is committed to building rewarding, long-term relationships with his customers. Phil can be reached at or 207-518-5663. NMLS #362291.