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6 First-Time Homebuyer Advice and Tips

6 First-Time Homebuyer Advice and Tips


Are you currently renting? Are you a first-time homebuyer? Are you concerned the home buying process is going to be difficult?

Buying a house can be daunting. After all - they don't teach "Home Buying 101" in high school or college. But, being prepared makes all the difference.

It's easy to scroll through or Zillow and dream about owning the perfect house. The magic of HGTV's and DIY network remodeling shows get to us all. But slow down, don’t get swept away until you’ve accomplished the six first-time homebuyer tips provided by Prevail Bank - Eau Claire’s, Mortgage Loan Originator, Jenny Ebert, NMLS #523594.

1. Find the right lender for you

  • Seek recommendations on local mortgage lenders from friends and family. You will want to choose a lender who is knowledgeable about the products they offer and can serve as an “advisor” during the loan process.
  • Find time to visit with them. They should review your income, debts, and assets to help you establish a price range and monthly affordability. (This can be done via email as well.)
  • Ask them about rates, terms, property insurance, and fees. Compare these details. They will vary, even for the same size loan.
  • The right mortgage lender is helpful in a loan transaction as well, because buying a home can be complicated; it’s easy to miss something without proper support. Maintaining constant communication with your Lender proves beneficial during the loan process.

Want to find out how much of a mortgage you qualify for now? Use our convenient mortgage qualification calculator.

Or, speak with a Prevail Bank Mortgage Lender today!

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2. What will my mortgage lender need?

The bank, your lender, will want to review the following:

  • Income: How long have you been with your current employer? What were your previous year's earnings (W-2) and how does that compare with what you have earned year to date (paycheck stub)?
  • Do you have any other income sources that are reliable?
  • What are your current monthly debts? Rent? Outstanding loan payments? Student loan payments (even if deferred)? Credit card balances and payments? Court ordered payments such as child support?
  • Credit scores are an important factor in qualifying for a mortgage.
  • What are your balances in checking, savings, and investment accounts?
  • How much do you want to put down as a down-payment toward a home? Are you anticipating additional funds in the future (bonuses, tax refunds, etc)? Ensure you have the available funds before you start looking at houses - because things can move very fast once you start looking.
  • Any items that may cause issues; collection accounts, judgements, bankruptcies or foreclosures.

When all of the above is pulled together and reviewed, the bank (mortgage lender) will help you establish a price range and a monthly payment.

3. Discuss and understand the types of home loans offered by your mortgage lender

  • It’s beneficial to know the different home loan programs - and the advantages and disadvantages of them. For example - a short-term year loan may have the lowest interest rate, but its monthly mortgage payment might be higher than a long-term loan.
  • Most people use 30 year mortgages to maximize their purchasing ability.
  • Your lender should also review with you closing costs and any prepaid expenses that are required, so you know how much you need to have in funds to purchase a home.
  • At the end of your mortgage lender appointment, you will know where you fit in the home buying process and what to anticipate.

Find the Right Loan for Me! 

4. Get pre-approved for a home loan.

  • After completing tips 1-3, get ahead of the game and have your credit and income verified and become one step closer to pre-approval. Being pre-approved shows the real estate agent that you’re a serious and qualified buyer. If there are multiple offers on a home, a pre-approval could make the difference. Most pre-approvals last for 3-months, which allows you time to shop for the perfect home.

Apply for a Home Loan Now! 

5. Choose a local realtor

  • Seek out recommendations from friends and family. You want an agent who will work hard for you and with you. Don’t choose an agent based solely on experience. Although it’s good to have, it’s not everything. You need to mesh. If it feels awkward or if you feel pressured by a real estate agent, then it isn’t a good fit. Find someone else.
  • Focus on neighborhood expertise. A local realtor will help find houses on the market that are in your best interest and price range. Just because a friend of a friend knows an agent doesn’t mean you should work with them. Google the realtor. Yelp them. Check out their website. We’re lucky to live in the information age, use it!
  • And if possible, work with your local realtor and lender together. You can strengthen your position by developing a good rapport between you, your realtor, and your lender.  You want to be comfortable asking them any question you need to.

Once you find the right realtor, the home buying search officially begins.

6. Be patient through your home buying process

Before you purchase your first home, it is common to find and make offers on several houses before you get an accepted offer. It’s beneficial to prepare for the possibility of your perfect home slipping through your fingers. While frustrating at first, the right home will come along. There will always be another one coming on the market.

  • If you get frustrated, it is ok to take a break and return to the home buying process when a house you like comes on the market.
  • The house search may come together very quickly - or it can take several months. As a reminder, getting pre-approved will better prepare you and increase your chances of purchasing the home, and shortening the process.
  • Once the offer is accepted, the bank will order the appraisal and title work. On average, the time from when an offer is accepted to closing is 45 days.
  • You may be asked to update your paycheck stubs and bank statements as documents become stale-dated. Doing this is a normal part of the process.
  • During the closing process is also when you would have a home inspection done if that is part of your offer. A home inspection is beneficial as it will tell you more about the house, what maintenance needs completing, and any big red flags for conditions issues.
  • Once everything is approved, you will schedule the closing date. At the closing, you will sign the necessary documents; you’ll pay the down-payment and closing costs. And, at the very end, you'll receive the keys to your new home!

Congratulations! You are a home owner!

Contact a Prevail Bank Mortgage Lender today to your home buying journey.

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