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Homebuyer “shouldas” you should know

If they’d known then what they know now, half of U.S. homebuyers say they’d do some things differently. Learning those lessons can help you make better decisions when you get there. Top of the list? A larger down payment. For more things buyers wish they could do over, read on.


In its inaugural Home Buyer Reality Report, NerdWallet found that 49 percent of homeowners would change some aspect of their buying experience. Sixty-one percent of Generation X owners said they would do something differently, compared with 57 percent of millennials and 44 percent of baby boomers.


Among all generations, the biggest remorse surrounds down-payment savings, with 20 percent of respondents reporting that they should have socked away more money. More than one-quarter of Gen Xers and millennials would amass a larger down payment if they could buy a home again.


Home size was another significant regret, with one-fifth of Generation X and millennials respondents saying they wish they had bought a larger home. By contrast, just 6 percent of baby boomers thought their home was too small, and that generation has a much lower percentage of buyer remorse across the board.


The survey also highlights the need for more education surrounding the mortgage and lending process. Forty-one percent of Americans who have applied for a loan said they weren’t fully aware of all their options, and 14 percent said they would do more mortgage comparison-shopping if they could repeat the process.


“According to our research, borrowers who don’t understand the mortgage process or don’t know enough about their own credit history tend to hit obstacles or be rejected when applying for mortgages,” Tim Manni, mortgage expert at NerdWallet said. “They also tend to feel regret after their deal is done, even if they succeeded in buying a home. That tells me borrowers aren’t doing enough research — on themselves or the mortgage process — before applying for a home loan.”


Despite the need for greater borrower education, along with interest rates that are widely expected to rise in 2017, 89 percent of applicants regardless of age had been approved for a mortgage. Generation X had the highest approval rate, at 91 percent, with baby boomers and millennials (89 percent) not far behind.


For the other Americans who have been denied a mortgage, more than half cited a high debt-to-income ratio as the dealbreaker, while 39 percent ran into credit problems. NerdWallet offers these five tips to help homebuyers avoid mortgage denial:


  • Get a credit report and check your FICO score
  • Fix any credit issues in a timely manner or contact agencies if you spot incorrect information
  • Proactively pay down outstanding debt that affects your credit score
  • Demonstrate consistent earnings over the past two years
  • Create a budget and cut unnecessary spending


Learning from the experiences of successful homebuyers and the things that they would do differently can help hopeful homeowners from repeating their mistakes. And of course, the advice and knowledge that only a trusted, experienced real estate professional can provide are crucial elements to any satisfying transaction.

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