Tips for First Time Home Buyers


Educate yourself before looking for a home. Look for free first time home buyer seminars sponsored by local not-for-profit organizations. The federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has a hotline number to help you locate free pre-purchase counseling near you: 1 (800) 569-4287.

Do not let yourself be pressured to sign anything. A legitimate business should always give you time to review a contract before signing. Never sign a document with blank spaces.

Have your own attorney review all contracts and loan documents before you sign. It is not a good idea to use an attorney provided by the seller or the lender. Ask your attorney about any provision you do not fully understand. One way to find an attorney in New York City is by calling the Bar Association Referral Line at (212) 626-7373.

Shop around for the best mortgage terms for which you qualify. Mortgages with low down payments are available from a variety of lenders. The seller should not require that you use a particular mortgage bank. You can request free brochures on choosing a mortgage from the FannieMae Foundation by calling 1 (800) 605-5200 and from the New York State Banking Department by calling 1 (800) 522-3330.

Get an independent inspection of the home. Negotiate a provision in the contract that states that you have the right to get an inspection by someone of your choosing and to cancel the contract if you are not satisfied with the inspection. Choose a licensed engineer or architect to perform the inspection. Do not rely on the appraisal that is provided by the lender.

Promises of future repairs and renovations can lead to future problems. Have all promises put in writing. If, at closing, all work is not complete, make sure repair money is put in an escrow account until it is done.

There is no such thing as a FHA-warrantied home. If a business tells you that the house is inspected by a government agency, or that the government guarantees the house is in good condition, be careful!

Before you close on the house, make sure you and your attorney understand and agree with any last minute changes in the documents.

If you believe that you have been a victim of predatory lending or real estate sales practices, and you wish to file a complaint with my office, call the New York State Attorney General’s consumer helpline at (800) 771-7755 or visit the website at