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Home Buying for First Timers

  • Posted on August 14, 2023

Key Takeaways

  • Home buying can be intimidating, but United is here to help with mortgages designed just for first-time homebuyers, including options with 100% financing and down payment assistance.
  • Before you apply for a mortgage, gather the documents you’ll need, including two years of W2 forms, paystubs for the last 30 days, bank statements for the last two months, and a government-issued ID.
  • Apply for a mortgage before you go home shopping to help you stay within budget.
  • Once you find a home, you and the seller will agree on the price and go under contract.
  • At closing, you’ll meet with the key parties in the home-buying transaction to finalize it.
  • After a successful closing, you’ll own your home and start making payments. 


Steps to Buy a House: Complete Guide

For first timers, buying a home can be intimidating. That doesn’t mean your mortgage should be.

United is here to walk you through the entire home-buying process, from application to closing and everything in between. We take a personal approach to home financing—and we’ll spend time working to understand your current finances and long-term goals to match you with the mortgage that makes the most sense for you. 

Prepare to Apply for a Mortgage

Buying a home usually involves getting a mortgage to finance the cost. A mortgage lender puts up the money you need in exchange for earning interest on it over time. Key mortgage considerations are:

  • Total price of the home
  • Down payment amount
  • Loan amount
  • Interest rate
  • Monthly payment
  • Insurance costs
  • Term—how long you have to repay the loan

Use our quick mortgage calculators to get an idea of how much home you can afford and the cost of buying versus renting. Calculators are for informational purposes only and are not considered a rate quote or commitment to lend.

Can I Afford a Home Calculator

Rent vs. Buy Calculator

Before you apply for a mortgage, gather the documents you’ll need:

  • Two years of W2 forms
  • Paystubs for the last 30 days
  • Bank statements for the last two months
  • A government-issued ID like a driver’s license or passport 


Apply for a Mortgage

First-time home buying is a major milestone in life. We’re here to support you, and we’ll walk you through all the steps and answer questions as you go. We offer a wide range of mortgages designed just for first-time homebuyers—including options with 100% financing and down payment assistance.1

Our mortgages have competitive interest rates and closing costs. The monthly service charge is waived for United Signature Checking Account, too.2  With some mortgages, you can even get a .25% discount for setting up auto-pay.3

We’ll spend time getting to know you and your unique financial situation throughout the application process. Our aim is to help you arrive at the best mortgage type for you,4 with a rate we can stand behind based on your credit score, employment history, and current debt.

You can start the application process online in minutes.

Apply Now


Not quite ready? Contact a local lender for more information, visit a local branch, or give us a call at 1-800-914-8224.


Find a Home

The steps to buy a house are easier if you do them in the right order. At United, we recommend applying for a mortgage before you go home shopping with a real estate professional so you know how much home you can afford and stay within budget.

Once you find a home, you and the seller will agree on the price. You’ll then go under contract. Your lender will schedule appraisals and inspections, and you’ll complete additional mortgage application documents.

Your lender will use this information to prepare your loan disclosure documents outlining loan details and estimated costs. Then the lender’s underwriting team will review your application and make a final decision.

It usually takes 30 to 45 days to go from contract to closing.

Apply Now

Contact a Local Lender


Close on Your Home

Closing is the very last of the steps to buy a house. At closing, you’ll finalize your home purchase by signing your closing documents. Other key stakeholders may also attend, including:

  • Your real estate professional
  • Your mortgage lender
  • Home seller or their representative
  • Home seller’s real estate professional
  • Closing attorney, responsible for communicating your closing costs and how to pay them

Bring your ID and checkbook and be prepared to sign lots of paperwork. After a successful closing, you’ll walk away with the keys to your new home. The home is officially yours, and it’s time to start making mortgage payments. You’ll find instructions in your closing package.

Helpful Resources

How Much House Can I Afford?

Key Players in the Home-Buying Process

Components of a Mortgage Payment

Which Mortgage is Right for Me?

You Can Buy a Home without Putting 20% Down

Picking Your Insurance Policy

Figure out added homebuying costs to budget for.

How to prepare your credit score.

Why are mortgage interest rates rising?

ARM4 vs. Fixed Rate: Which mortgage is right for me?

You can buy a home without putting 20% down.


1 Private mortgage insurance may be required for financing above 80% loan to value. 

2 Avoid monthly service charge on United Signature Checking account by maintaining $15,000 minimum daily balance. You may also avoid the monthly service charge if you maintain $25,000 in combined consumer deposit balance(s) or maintain $50,000 in combined outstanding principal balances in consumer loan accounts owned and serviced by United Community Bank. Additionally, the monthly service charge may be avoided if the primary account holder for this account also maintains assets under management with United Community Advisory Services, or maintains a mortgage loan serviced by United Community Mortgage Services or our mortgage servicing provider on behalf of United. (Note: United Signature Checking, advisory services and third party serviced loans must all be reporting under the same tax identification number in order to qualify for service charge waiver.)

3 Discount is applied after closing. Discount is not reflected in the interest rate lock disclosure. All loans enrolling in auto-pay discount will be qualified, underwritten, and approved at the higher interest rate. The automatic payment form must be completed prior to closing and the Auto Pay Discount Agreement will outline the rate discount at time of closing. If you cancel or do not complete enrollment before your loan closes, the rate discount will not be applied. If you make any changes in your election option after closing, your rate may change to the approved interest rate as outline in the mortgage note.

4 Rates offered are good only at the time offered. Mortgage interest rate is not guaranteed until rate is locked and then is guaranteed only for set lock period. Property address is required to lock rate.

© 2023 United Community Bank | NMLS# 421841 | | United Community Mortgage Services is the mortgage lending division of United Community Bank. We are an approved seller/servicer for the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) and the Federal Home Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac). Normal credit criteria apply.  This is not a commitment to lend.  Offer subject to change without notice.


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