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By John R. Merlino Jr. Esq.
Founding Attorney

If you are a first time homebuyer, navigating the real estate market in Staten Island can be complicated. From selecting a dwelling and signing a contract to arranging for a home inspection and securing a mortgage, the process requires doing some homework along with having patience and resolve.

When you’re ready to buy a home, you are well advised to speak with our experienced real estate attorneys who will work to protect your interests and help you close the deal. In the meantime, we’ve put together the following guide for first time homebuyers:

Review Your Credit Report

Before you even start looking for a home, it is important to evaluate your creditworthiness, since blemishes on your credit report will make it difficult to qualify for a loan. By obtaining a free credit report by going to, you can determine if there are any unresolved issues or errors. If there are mistakes, you should contact the three main credit reporting bureaus, Equifax, Experian and Transunion, to correct any discrepancies.

How Much Can You Afford?

One of the most important considerations is knowing how much of a home you can afford, and whether you will be able to repay the mortgage loan. It is important to be prudent and not spend more than you can afford on housing, although this can be challenging as home prices continue to rise. Ultimately, you should shop around to find interest rates and payment terms that fit your current and future financial situation.

Get Pre-Approved for a Loan

It can also help to be pre-approved for a mortgage before you make an offer on a prospective  home. Obtaining a pre-approval requires submitting a mortgage application to a lender which includes financial documents such as pay-stubs, W-2s, tax returns and bank account statements, but is does not involve a credit inquiry.  With a pre-approval in hand, you will have more leverage in negotiations with the seller, who will be more likely to make a deal if you are closer to obtaining a loan.

Don’t Forget the Closing Costs

When a lender offers you a mortgage, there are all types of charges involved, such as commitment and origination fees as well as the following closing costs: title and settlement fees, appraisal fees, processing fees, survey fees, attorneys fees, credit report fees, taxes and prepaid items such as homeowners insurance. Although the amount of these fees depend on the loan amount and can vary from lender to lender, it is important to have an estimate of these costs.

Consult An Attorney

Given the complexities of the real estate and mortgage markets, having the advice and guidance of an experienced real estate attorney is invaluable. A trustworthy attorney can review the contract of sale, help arrange for the home inspection, anticipate problems that may arise, and represent you at the closing. In the end, the housing market offers a number of opportunities to first time homebuyers, and having proper legal representation will help to protect your interests.


About the Author
John is a fierce advocate and the office guru for problem-solving and brainstorming. He guides clients through every stage of a real estate transaction from offer to contract, navigating through nerve-shattering home inspection and title clearance concerns, maintaining constant contact with lenders, conducting the actual closing, and continuing to advise clients with regard to any post-closing concerns.  John brings a practical and fair-minded approach to the process which has earned him the respect of his clients and peers.