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 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 diving into your search.

Does the math add up?

It may seem obvious, but buying a home is more expensive than simply putting money down 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 to furnish your new home, inside and outside? Homes also come with taxes and insurance costs—do you have a general sense of what you’d be paying in your ideal neighborhood? Local insurance agents and property assessors have websites that can be helpful resources. Based on your savings and monthly income, you can determine your lower-cost and higher-cost home options. It’s important to know up front 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 to keep tabs on your credit report and FICO score, which will factor into your total loan costs. Closely examine your free annual credit report and check for any errors. Contact the appropriate credit-reporting bureau (Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion) to ensure any issues are resolved. Maintaining a strong credit score will help you with any loan or additional line of credit you may need.

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 questions and get clarification on any part of the process that is confusing. Before even 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, robust credit score, and expert loan officer are vital resources to have before your home search even begins.

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

Phil has more than 23 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.