Building Forward. S&A Homes Blog

Our Most Asked Questions from First-Time Homebuyers

Congratulations on leaping into homeownership! As a first-time homebuyer, you may have many questions about the home-buying process. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed or confused, but rest assured that there are answers to all your burning questions. We’ll cover some of the most common questions first-time homebuyers have asked and provide the answers you need to navigate the homebuying journey with confidence.

How do I know if I’m ready to buy a house?

Knowing when you’re ready to buy a house as a first-time homebuyer involves both financial preparedness and emotional readiness. Financially, being ready means you have a stable income, a solid credit score, and savings for a down payment plus additional expenses such as closing costs and emergency funds. You should also be comfortable with the idea of taking on a mortgage and the ongoing costs of homeownership, including property taxes, insurance, and maintenance.

On an emotional level, readiness might mean you’re looking for a more permanent place to call home, or you’re ready to invest in your future in a way that renting doesn’t allow. A good indicator of being ready to buy a house is being prepared for the responsibilities of homeownership.

How much can I afford to spend on a house?

This is perhaps the most important question to ask before starting your home search. The answer depends on your income, credit score, debts, and other financial factors. You can use an online mortgage calculator to estimate what your monthly payments might look like based on different purchase prices.

If you’re ready to begin looking at homes, consider getting a pre-approval. This formal financial review will give you a clear picture of your budget and help you narrow down your search for homes within your price range.

How much money do I need for a down payment?

Your down payment amount will depend on the type of loan you qualify for and the purchase price of the home. While it’s true that a larger down payment can lower your monthly mortgage payments and interest rates, there are options available for those who may not have significant savings

Conventional loans typically require a down payment of 3-20% of the purchase price, while government-backed loans like FHA loans may only require as little as 3.5% down. It’s important to discuss your options with your lender to determine what works best for your situation.

We know there isn’t a “one-size-fits-all” solution when it comes to home financing. That’s why we partner with a variety of lenders and banks that offer a variety of loan programs that can be tailored to your needs. Learn more about our financing solutions.

What is a pre-approval and why do I need one?

Getting pre-approved for a mortgage is an important step in the home-buying process. A pre-approval letter from a lender shows sellers that you are a serious buyer and have the financial means to purchase a home. Some benefits of getting a preapproval include helping you understand how much you can borrow and what interest rate you qualify for, allowing you to shop within your budget. Read our blog post explaining the differences between mortgage preapproval versus prequalification here.

Our Most Asked Questions from First-Time HomebuyersWhat costs are involved in buying a home?

Beyond the down payment, there are several other costs associated with buying a home that you should budget for, including closing costs (typically 2-5% of the purchase price), inspection fees, moving expenses, and possible repairs or updates needed before moving in.

Closing costs are fees associated with completing a real estate transaction. They can include appraisal fees, title insurance, attorney fees, and more. Both buyers and sellers can negotiate who pays which closing costs as part of their purchase agreement. It’s important to budget for closing costs in addition to your down payment when planning for your home purchase.

What’s the process for building a home on my land with S&A Homes?

When deciding to build a home on your land with S&A Homes, homebuyers can expect a comprehensive and personalized building process. We pride ourselves on providing a tailored experience, ensuring that each phase of construction aligns with the homeowner’s vision and preferences.

From initial consultations to understand each buyer’s specific needs and budget, to selecting custom design options that reflect their lifestyle, our team guides each homebuyer through every step. We emphasize transparency in communication, providing regular updates and insights into the construction timeline, so homebuyers feel supported and informed throughout their homebuilding journey. By choosing S&A Homes, homebuyers partner with a builder dedicated to creating high-quality, customized homes that meet their desires and requirements. Read our blog post explaining our six step Build on Your Lot process here.

How long does it take to build a new home?

Building a new home typically takes roughly 6-9 months from purchase to completion. During this time, you’ll complete various stages from making selections for customization, drawing up blueprints, obtaining necessary permits, and the actual construction process. Each phase is crucial to ensure that the final home meets your specifications and standards. From the initial design consultations to the final touches, the entire journey is tailored to create a space that truly feels like home.

If you are on a tighter schedule or prefer immediate occupancy, quick move-in homes are also available, offering the convenience of a quicker housing solution without compromising on quality.

Do I need a real estate agent?

Ultimately, it’s your choice whether to hire a real estate agent. Our experienced sales team at S&A Homes is here to guide you through every step of the way, ensuring a seamless experience. Our sales representatives are available to show you available homes, answer any questions, assist in reviewing selections, and handle all necessary contract paperwork. They are well-versed in the intricacies of new home sales, adept at negotiating the best terms, and committed to providing transparent communication. With their expertise, you can confidently navigate the complexities of purchasing a new home, knowing that you have a dedicated professional handling the essential details to meet your specific needs.

Our Most Asked Questions from First-Time HomebuyersWhat should I look for when viewing homes?

When viewing new construction homes, it’s important to consider factors such as location, size, layout, and the reputation of the builder. Pay attention to the quality of materials used, the design of the community, and any available amenities. Inspect the model homes while touring for craftsmanship and finishes that exhibit the builder’s attention to detail. Be sure you picture yourself living in the space and evaluate if the layout meets your long-term needs. Don’t hesitate to ask about the builder’s warranty, any potential future developments in the area, and the estimated timeline for completion. Asking thorough questions will help you make an informed decision and ensure that your new home aligns with your expectations.

How do I choose the right neighborhood?

Finding the right neighborhood is just as important as finding the right house. Consider factors like proximity to work, schools, shopping, parks, and public transportation when choosing a neighborhood to live in. Take time to explore different neighborhoods by visiting open houses, talking to residents, and researching local amenities before making a decision.

What is homeowners insurance and why do I need it?

Homeowners insurance is designed to protect your investment in case of damage or loss due to unforeseen events such as fire, theft, or natural disasters. Most lenders require borrowers to have homeowners insurance in place before closing on their loan. It’s important to shop around for quotes from different insurance providers to find the best coverage at an affordable rate.

What happens at closing?

Closing day is when all parties involved  sign paperwork, transfer funds, and officially transfer ownership of the property from the seller to the buyer. It’s important to review all documents carefully before signing and ask any questions you may have about fees or terms associated with the purchase.

As you embark on this exciting journey as a first-time homebuyer, remember that it’s completely normal to have questions along the way. By seeking out information from trusted sources and working closely with professionals like our S&A Homes Sales Team and lenders, you can feel confident in making informed decisions throughout the home-buying process. There are no silly questions when it comes to buying a home so don’t hesitate to reach out for guidance whenever needed!

Buy new with S&A Homes

S&A Homes offers a variety of new home communities and floorplans in the most sought-after locations in Central and South-Central Pennsylvania. We can also build your dream home on your land! For more details, visit or call 1-855-SAHOME1