Buying a home in Salem? Here’s what you need to know

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Looking for a small-town feel with the amenities of a bigger city? Salem’s relaxed atmosphere, vibrant cultural scene and vineyard-covered surroundings are luring a growing number of homebuyers to the Willamette Valley—and our loan officer Susan Busch wants to help each one buy a home.

With a thriving job market and plenty of recreational opportunities, it’s no wonder Salem made U.S. News & World Report’s list of 100 best places to live. And with a median home price of $280,000, it’s also one of the more affordable real estate markets in Oregon.

A longtime Oregon resident and OCCU loan officer, Busch works with prospective homebuyers to help them prepare financially for homeownership in Salem.

“Owning a home is the biggest investment of your lifetime. My personal goal is to help every single person get into a home,” says Busch, who worked as a real estate agent before joining the OCCU team. She offers the following advice for buyers:


Chat with a loan officer first

Before you start hunting for that perfect home, it’s a good idea to sit down with Busch or another OCCU loan officer to discuss your financial situation. Even if you don’t think you’re ready to buy a home, a loan officer can help you assess where you’re at and create a roadmap for getting your finances in shape.

“We love to sit down with people early and chat with them about how they can get where they’re going,” she says. “It’s free, and it gives people hope. They realize, ‘I can probably buy a house.’ ”


Save as much as you can

Your savings are an important factor in determining whether you qualify for a mortgage. And it’s not just about saving for a down payment. Having a nest egg shows lenders you’ve got a handle on your bills and can absorb a larger house payment as well as any unexpected expenses that might arise.


Get pre-approved

In today’s hot market, getting pre-approved for a mortgage is a must. Many sellers won’t even consider your offer if you don’t have your financing nailed down and your pre-approval letter in hand. Getting pre-approved not only gives you a clear idea of how much house you can afford, but it also helps speed up the buying process once your offer is accepted.


Get your documents ready

As you initiate the home loan process, you’ll want to have all of the necessary documents at your fingertips so you can produce them quickly. These include your tax returns and W-2s for the past two years, as well as current bank statements. It may also help to write a letter to your lender to explain any major changes in your income or financial situation, Busch says.


Thinking about buying a home in Salem? Apply for a home loan today to get the ball rolling.