WASHINGTON, D.C., USA — Making the transition from renting to owning can be overwhelming. There are assistance programs that make the process easier, but knowing which one is best is half the battle. The Mortgage Link has tips to make the process easier.

  1. Different programs exist in different jurisdictions. Down payment or closing cost assistance programs exist in many different areas. If the area where you're looking to buy offers down payment assistance, a 20 percent initial payment isn't necessary. This means less financial strain. Make sure you have a real estate agent and loan officer who can tap you into various resources.
  2. Get your credit in line. First time home buyer programs often have credit guidelines. Find out what your credit score is. If it's on the poor side, ask a financial adviser what you can do to improve the score within six months to a year.
  3. Understand your assets. Your income, assets, and credit all determine what home value you can afford. Once you have an idea of the price range, you can get with a realtor and start the fun part. 
  4. Help with closing costs is a possibility. If the seller is highly motivated, they may be willing to make some concessions. Various programs exist that also help with closing costs. These typically have income limits, so find out if you qualify.
  5. Know when to end negotiations. In a competitive market it's easy to get into bidding wars. But don't get swept up in the hysteria. Look to your realtor to advise you on inventory. Housing construction jumped 18.6 percent in January according to the US Department of Commerce; the fastest rate in more than eight months. More inventory means greater opportunity for first time home buyers.

This article is sponsored by The Mortgage Link, Inc.

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