Thinking about homeownership? Read our best of 2016 mortgage tips.

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Thinking of buying a home in the coming year? You’re not the only one.

Rents are skyrocketing in a lot of cities. Buying a home is 35 percent cheaper than renting in the U.S. these days, propelling many young adults to consider buying their first home.

More than one in three homebuyers are first-timers, a group composed mostly of Gen Y adults who are entering their key buying years. Eight in 10 will take their search online—many heading straight to real estates like Trulia or Zillow. And 86 percent will finance their home with a mortgage.

As the housing market continues to rebound, it’s an exciting time to buy a home. Below are our top tips and best practices for navigating the mortgage and home ownership process.

1. Know the steps

Buying your first home is an emotional, arduous and often nail-biting journey. Sometimes you’ll be waiting for what seems like forever, and other times you’ll need to act quickly. Knowing what to expect along the way makes a big difference. Find out what each stage of the home-buying process entails, and learn what you’ll need to do to get prepared.

Read more: 4 steps to purchasing your new home

2. Shop for a mortgage

Choosing a mortgage lender is a huge decision. After all, you’re going to be saddled with this company for the next 30 or so years. Your lender will affect everything from how much in interest rates and fees you pay to who’s watching your back as you make big financial decisions down the road. Here are three key factors to consider when shopping for a home loan.

Read more: Shopping for a mortgage? Consider these three differences.

3. Mark your calendar

Once your offer on a new home is accepted, the clock starts ticking on your mortgage. How fast you complete the next steps of the process can determine how much you’ll end up paying over the life of your loan. Check out this timeline to get an idea of how long it will take to buy a home, from start to finish.

Read more: Beating the clock: a timeline of the mortgage process

4. Insure your mortgage

Saving up for a down payment is a big task. Most people save up anywhere from 5 to 20 percent. Unless you have 20 percent or more in hand when you apply for a mortgage, you may be required to get Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI). Learn all about what PMI is, why you need it—and when you can stop paying for it.

Read more: What’s the deal with Private Mortgage Insurance?

5. Remodel wisely

Once you’ve bought a home, chances are you’ll want to upgrade it at some point. Some home improvements nearly pay for themselves by adding value to your home—and they’re not the ones you think. Should you renovate the kitchen or replace the roof? This infographic tells you which renovations give you the best return on investment.

Read more: Thinking about remodeling? Then consider ROI.

As you take the next steps in your home-buying journey, OCCU can serve as your mortgage partner. We’ll guide you through each step of the process and help you best the right financial choices for you and your family.