First-Time Homebuyer

Steps to Getting a Mortgage and Buying a Home

You’re navigating the process of buying a home for the first time … congratulations! Whether you feel excited or overwhelmed, the right mortgage lender can put you at ease and help you understand your options during the process. At State Bank of Cross Plains, our local mortgage lenders make the process quick and easy, so you can focus on what's really important: enjoying that new-home feeling.

In addition to traditional mortgage options, there are multiple alternatives aimed at helping first-time buyers achieve their goal of owning a home, including smaller down payments. One of our mortgage lenders can help you determine whether you qualify.

Ready to take the plunge into home ownership? Get started online using our simple application process, and one of our local lenders will be in touch with details and next steps. Have more questions? Check out our Homebuying 101 page.


Preparing to Buy Your First Home

  • Start saving for your down payment and closing costs. Make sure to check your credit score and your debt-to-income ratio, too. 
  • Decide what type of house (condo, duplex, single-family) is right for you and which features are a NEED vs. a WANT (neighborhood, location, etc.)
  • Determine your budget by analyzing your expenses and working with a mortgage lender. Check out our mortgage calculators, too!
  • Take into consideration the monthly costs for a home – loan principal, loan interest, private mortgage insurance, property tax, and homeowners’ insurance.
  • Gather necessary paperwork for the loan-application process, including tax returns, pay stubs, bank statements, and investment information.

The Mortgage Application

Submit necessary financial records for a pre-approval application before placing an offer on a house to show you are a serious buyer. The bank will run a credit check, review your financial documents, and determine mortgage loan options such as the right type of mortgage, rates, and terms for First-Time Homebuyers. 

Now that you have initiated a home loan application, you will want to be careful about financial events that could impact our ability to approve your loan. Specifically, you should contact your lender concerning any of the following: changes to your income, acquiring additional debt, or shifting funds around. You will then receive, in writing, a conditional commitment for a specific loan amount, which you can use to show you can afford the house on which you are making an offer. 

Finding Your Home

Partner with a real estate agent to find your perfect property. If you are on a budget, look for homes that need a little work but have potential. Once you identify a home you would like to purchase, make an offer with the help of your agent. When the offer is accepted, the expectation is that you will buy, pending any serious problems arising from inspections.

For the home inspection, make sure to follow up with your realtor on any unacceptable findings.

It's Time to Close on Your First Home

To close on your home, work with your lender to update your application as needed, and to provide any additional documentation required for your loan. Your lender will then schedule a home appraisal to determine the property's fair market value. Together, you both will confirm a closing date and finalize loan details, including private mortgage insurance, if applicable. Be prepared to pay fees associated with closing, such as attorney fees and lender fees. Once the closing is completed, your new loan request will be funded and it's time to enjoy your new home! 

Banknotes Blog: 10 Mistakes to Avoid When Buying Your First Home

When everything is new, nothing feels easy. Luckily, the right mortgage lender can help you avoid the most common mistakes.


Your credit score is one of the most influential pieces of your financial history, and a good score can help you qualify for a better rate. Your lender can help you understand how this works and get you ready for running your credit score, when you are closer to finalizing your mortgage application.