Buying a home for the first time is exciting and scary. This is most likely the biggest purchase you will make in your lifetime. But how are you going to finance it?
When people finally make the decision to buy, they often start with figuring out how much they can afford. There are all sorts of mortgage calculators online that can help you do this. They are great for giving a ballpark figure, but it is not until you talk with a lender or mortgage broker (What is the Difference Between Lenders and Mortgage Brokers) that you learn what programs you might qualify for. There are so many programs that can get you into a house from government options to neighborhood specific opportunities and they are worth researching before choosing a lender or broker.
Often, once a buyer finds a mortgage broker, they stick with that one—even if they are told that they do not qualify. Talking to a lender right when you decide to buy is a great thing to do. They can help you figure out how to increase your credit score or improve your debt to income ratio. However, just because you started working with one, does not mean they are the right lender for you. If you qualify for less than you were hoping for, get a second opinion. Not all lenders participate in the same programs. For example, in Portland, there are only a handful of lenders that will do Oregon Bond Loan which is not credit sensitive and can lower your rate or help you with closing costs if you qualify. This could be the difference between affording a house in the Portland area or staying a renter.
Ask your real estate agent to refer you to someone who can help you get into the market. If you can afford to pay the high rent in Portland, you are likely able to buy with the right program.