Tips for First Time Home Buyers in NC

Oct 31, 2023

Jumping into the world of homeownership in North Carolina? First off, hats off to you! It’s a big step, and at Triangle Appraisal Group, we’ve been honored to guide countless individuals just like you. Over the years, we’ve seen how crucial it is, for instance, to not overlook the additional costs that come with a new home, or the importance of getting pre-qualified early in the game. Yep, if you’re scouring the web for some tried-and-true “Tips for First Time Home Buyers in NC,” you’ve hit the jackpot. In this piece, we’ll expand on those pointers and more, sharing firsthand experiences that’ll arm you with knowledge for the journey ahead. Ready for some insider insights? Let’s dive in!

Qualifications of First Time Home Buyers in NC

Hey there future homeowners! So, you’re diving into the North Carolina housing market for the first time, and you might be wondering, “Do I even qualify as a first-time home buyer?” In the Tar Heel State, a first-time homebuyer is generally considered someone who hasn’t owned a home in the past three years. That’s right! Even if you’ve owned a home before, but it’s been over three years since you sold or moved out, you’re back in the first-timer club. Additionally, if you’ve only ever owned a property that wasn’t in compliance with state, local, or model building codes—or one that can’t be brought into compliance for less than the cost of constructing a new home—you might still be eligible. So, whether you’re fresh on the scene or getting back into the home-buying groove after a hiatus, North Carolina has opportunities for you. Welcome to the exciting journey ahead with TAG by your side!

From Start to Finish: 9 Steps for Your NC Home Buying Journey

Alright, now that we’ve broken down the qualifications for first-time homebuyers, let’s dive right into the exciting part – the step-by-step guide to your home buying journey in North Carolina! And of course, TAG is here as your trusty guide.

1.Find Your Team of Real Estate Professionals: Building a dream team is essential! This includes an experienced realtor, a knowledgeable mortgage lender, a reliable real estate attorney, and a savvy mortgage broker. Together, they’ll help navigate the complexities of the home-buying process.

2. Explore Your Loan Options: North Carolina has an array of loan options to explore. We’ll just touch on this here, but don’t fret – we’ll be diving deeper into the loan sea further down in this article. So, keep reading!

3. Look for Available Programs and Grants: Here at TAG, we’ve seen countless first-time homebuyers benefit from the array of programs and grants that NC offers.  So, trust us when we say, it’s worth exploring every opportunity! Intr

4. Get Pre-Qualified: Pre-qualification is your first step in understanding how much house you can afford. It involves a lender evaluating your financial health and estimating the mortgage amount they’d be willing to offer. The process might seem a tad daunting, especially with the list of documents and details it demands. But fret not! We’ve got you covered. To make things easier, here’s a handy checklist of what you’ll need to get pre-qualified:

Proof of Identity Personal Assets Information
Proof of Legal Residency Debt Information
Proof of Income Down Payment
Proof of Employment Proof of Rent Payments
Credit History Personal Statement of Assets and Liabilities


Remember, while this checklist should cover most scenarios, individual lenders might have their own specific requirements. Always best to double-check with them to ensure you’re fully prepared!

5. Begin Your House Hunt: Here’s where you get to daydream and explore! From cozy nooks to sprawling gardens, find the space that speaks to you.

6. Make an Offer: Spotted your dream home? Time to put your offer on the table! It’s a pivotal moment, but with your stellar team, you’re set to succeed.

7. Apply for a Mortgage: After your offer gets the nod, touch base with your lender to initiate the mortgage application. They’ll walk you through every detail including your home appraisal.

8. Close on Your Home: This is the grand finale! Sign the dotted line, exchange smiles, and congrats – you’ve just unlocked the title of ‘homeowner’!

9. Celebrate and Settle In: Now, it’s party time! Relish in your achievement, move in, and start crafting memories in your new space.

Explore Your Loan Options as a First Time Home Buyer in NC

As promised in our earlier discussion about exploring loan options, we’ve compiled a concise chart to further break down some of the most common types of home loans available in North Carolina. Each loan type comes with its own unique set of characteristics and advantages. Use this as a quick reference guide to understand the basics and to help determine which might be the best fit for your home buying journey:

Loan Type Description Benefits
FHA Loan Government-backend loan designed for low-to-moderate-income borrowers who may have lower than average credit scores.
  • Lower minimum downpayments (typically 3.5%)
  • More lenient credit score requirements.
USDA Loan Mortgage solution for a rural and suburban buyers.
  • No Downpayment required for eligible areas
  • Low-interest rates
Adjustable Mortgage Rates (ARM) Home loan with an interest rate that can change periodically based on changes in a corresponding financial index.
  • Initial lower interest rates
  • Potential for lower total interest cost if rates remain stable or decline
VA Loans Loan program for veterans, active-duty sevice members, and some members of the National Guard and Reserves.
  • No downpayment required
  • No Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) needed
  • Competitive interest rates
Conventional Mortgages Home loans not guaranteed by the federal government
  • More flexibility in terms and conditions
  • No mortgage insurance required with 20% down payment
  • Potentially faster processing times

Mortgage Assistance for NC First Time Home Buyers 

Navigating the world of mortgages can feel a tad overwhelming, especially for first-time homebuyers in North Carolina. But hey, you’re not alone on this journey! At Triangle Appraisal Group, we’ve seen countless clients benefit from state programs designed to make homeownership more attainable. Here are three standout programs that could give your home-buying ambitions a boost:

NC Home Advantage Mortgage

The NC Home Advantage Mortgage is a fantastic program that provides stable, fixed-rate mortgages from participating lenders across the state. It’s designed for homebuyers who are purchasing their primary residence in North Carolina. Eligibility often revolves around income limits, which can vary based on the county and size of your household. To apply, simply reach out to a participating lender who’s familiar with the program. If you’re someone who values consistent monthly payments without any surprises, this could be your golden ticket.

NC 1st Home Advantage Down Payment 

Saving for a down payment is often cited as one of the biggest hurdles for first-time buyers. Enter the NC 1st Home Advantage Down Payment program. It offers up to $8,000 in down payment assistance for first-time buyers or military veterans. To be eligible, you typically need to pair this with the NC Home Advantage Mortgage and meet certain income and purchase price limits. To get started, chat with a participating lender to walk you through the nuances and get the ball rolling. For those struggling with that initial down payment, this program can be a game-changer.

NC Home Advantage Tax Credit

If the thought of saving money on taxes gets your heart racing (in a good way), you’ll want to explore the NC Home Advantage Tax Credit. This program allows eligible first-time buyers and military veterans to save up to $2,000 a year on their federal taxes. To qualify, you’d need to secure a Mortgage Credit Certificate (MCC) through a participating lender before you close on your home. Now, who should consider this? If you’re looking for long-term savings and a bit of relief come tax season, this program might just be your best friend.

Deciding which program is right for you depends on your unique situation and goals. Our best advice? Chat with a financial advisor or mortgage specialist to ensure you’re making the most of what North Carolina has to offer. And remember, we at Triangle Appraisal Group are always here to lend a hand (or an ear)!

Things to Avoid When Buying Your First Home

buying a house for the first time

Ah, the journey of buying your first home – exciting, nerve-wracking, and oh-so-rewarding! At Triangle Appraisal Group, we’ve walked alongside many first-timers like yourself, and we’ve noticed a few pitfalls that can sometimes trip up even the most eager homebuyers. One of the first things to keep in mind is not to overlook the additional costs that come with a new home. While that listing price might look appealing, don’t forget to factor in those sneaky extras like closing costs, maintenance, utilities, and potential homeowner association fees. 

Equally important is not to skip the home inspection. It’s your safety net, ensuring you know exactly what you’re investing in and potentially saving you from unforeseen expenses down the line. And speaking of expenses, try to resist making big purchases before closing. As tempting as it might be to buy that new car or those flashy appliances, such expenses can throw a wrench in your mortgage approval. 

Now, when it comes to finances, always get pre-qualified. It’s a sanity saver, helping you understand what you can afford so you won’t set your heart on a home just to have it broken by budget constraints. As you delve into mortgages, remember to fully understand your choice. While an adjustable rate might look enticing at the outset, consider its implications for your long-term finances.

Buying a home can tug at the heartstrings, but be cautious about letting emotions dictate your decisions. It’s essential to strike a balance between what feels right and what makes financial and practical sense. And while we’re on the subject of looking ahead, always have an eye on resale value. Even if a place feels like your forever home now, circumstances change, and having a property that appeals to future buyers is a smart move.

With these insights in your arsenal, you’re better equipped to navigate the home-buying maze, dodging those pitfalls and making savvy decisions every step of the way. As you continue your journey, keep these tidbits in mind, and remember, Triangle Appraisal Group is always here to help guide the way.

10 Tips for First Time Buyers in NC

As we draw to a close on this enlightening journey through the world of first-time home buying in North Carolina, we at Triangle Appraisal Group felt it only right to leave you with a nugget (or ten!) of wisdom. Over the years, we’ve been fortunate to stand beside countless first-time homebuyers, witnessing their highs, lows, triumphs, and lessons learned. Each story has added to our treasure trove of experience, and it’s from this wellspring that we’ve distilled our top 10 tips for you. These are the tidbits we often find ourselves repeating to clients, the kind that make the difference between a stressful purchase and a celebratory one. So, without further ado, here are TAG’s golden guidelines for first-time buyers in NC:

  1. Budget Beyond the Purchase Price: Always account for other recurring costs like property taxes, insurance, and potential homeowners’ association fees.
  1. Location, Location, Location: Invest in a location that’s not just good for now, but also beneficial for future resale value.
  1. Stay Calm and Be Patient: The home-buying process can be a roller coaster. Breathe, stay calm, and remember it’s a journey.
  1. Keep Future Plans in Mind: Considering starting a family? Think about school districts. Planning on a big dog? Maybe a yard is essential.
  1. Trust Your Gut: While data and advice are crucial, don’t ignore your instincts about a house or a neighborhood.
  1. Always Negotiate: Whether it’s the price, repairs, or closing costs, remember everything is negotiable.
  1. Research Your Lender: A good interest rate is essential, but also consider the lender’s reputation and customer service.
  1. Visit at Different Times: A neighborhood might be quiet in the morning but bustling (or noisy!) in the evening. Drop by at various times to get a real feel.
  1. Connect with Neighbors: They can provide insights about the community, ongoing issues, or history that you might not find elsewhere.
  1. Celebrate the Small Wins: Every step forward, whether it’s a pre-approval or an accepted offer, is worth celebrating. Relish the journey!

And there you have it – insights straight from the heart of Triangle Appraisal Group. Embarking on this home-buying voyage is truly a special time, filled with anticipation, excitement, and naturally, a few jitters. With these tips for first-time home buyers in NC in your back pocket, there’s no doubt you’ll find the perfect home to start your next chapter. Happy house hunting!

home buying tips for first time buyers


How much money do I need to put down on a house in North Carolina as a First time Home Buyer?

Great question! The down payment required can vary based on the type of loan you choose and the specific terms provided by your lender. However, here’s a general overview for North Carolina:

  • FHA Loans: Typically, the minimum down payment for an FHA loan is 3.5% of the purchase price.
  • USDA Loans:For eligible rural areas, USDA loans can often offer 0% down payment.
  • VA Loans: If you’re a qualifying veteran or active-duty military member, VA loans can also offer a 0% down payment.
  • Conventional Mortgages: These usually require a down payment ranging from 3% to 20% or more, depending on the lender and your creditworthiness.

It’s also worth noting that there are various state-specific programs and grants available to First Time Home Buyers in North Carolina that can assist in reducing the amount needed for a down payment. Always check with your mortgage lender or broker to get the most accurate and up-to-date information based on your personal financial situation.

Is being prequalified for a loan the same as being approved for a mortgage?

Fantastic query! While both prequalification and mortgage approval relate to securing a home loan, they’re not quite the same thing. Let’s break it down:

Prequalification: This is a preliminary step where a lender gives you an estimate of how much you might be able to borrow based on a brief look at your finances. It’s quick and often done over the phone or online.

Mortgage Approval (or Pre-Approval): This involves a thorough review of your financial background. The lender confirms a specific amount you can borrow after checking details like your credit score and income. It’s a stronger commitment and is seen favorably by sellers.

So, prequalification is a general estimate, while mortgage approval is a more committed and detailed assessment.

How much is the average PMI for NC?

In North Carolina, Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) is often required when you put down less than 20% on a conventional mortgage. PMI typically ranges from 0.3% to 1.5% of the original loan amount annually. So, for a $200,000 loan at a 1% PMI rate, you’d pay around $2,000 annually or $167 monthly. Remember, these are ballpark figures; your actual rate may vary based on factors like your lender and credit score. Always consult your mortgage lender for specific numbers.

How long does it take to buy a home in NC?

The home buying process in North Carolina, like other places, can vary in duration. Typically, once you’ve found a home and your offer is accepted, the closing process takes around 30 to 45 days. However, factors like loan type, inspection outcomes, or negotiation specifics can affect this timeline. Plus, the time you spend house hunting before this can differ widely based on market conditions and individual preferences. Overall, while the formal closing process has a more predictable timeline, the entire home buying journey can range from a couple of months to even longer.