Before you start to look for a home, consider taking the following steps:

1. Talk to a few lenders to determine the mortgage for which you qualify. There are a number of websites with tools to calculate payments, check what you can afford, and even apply for a mortgage, however, a first time home buyer would benefit from contacting a local Ulster county bank and talk to an experienced mortgage consultant. We can recommend a number of experienced mortgage consultants in various of the local banks serving Ulster County.

2. Get pre-approved, not pre-qualified. By getting pre-approved, you can focus your search on houses that you can afford and when you do find a house you’ll be able to submit a bona fide and serious offer. Unlike pre-qualification (which is based on a cursory review of your finances), pre-approval is based on your actual income, debt and credit history. By taking this step before you start your search, you’ll be able to avoid taking on too much of a financial burden. After all, buying a country place is meant to reduce your stress, not add to it.

3. Consider your mortgage options. As a general rule, most of the buyers we work with opt for a fixed 30-year mortgage. Rates are still historically low and the 30-year option will generally have a low monthly payment with the option of paying down the principal without penalty. You may also have the option to pay ‘points’ in exchange for a lower interest rate. This is a good option if you’re planning on having your house for a long time as it will save you money in the end.

4. Work with your broker to analyze the market. Before you actually make an offer, work with your broker to determine whether there are recent sales that reflect the current market conditions. The broker should be able to provide details on price per square foot, the average discount from listing prices, and other local variables that may impact how much you offer.