Buy Your First Home—Even If You Don't Know Where to Start

You've decided to take the leap into homeownership...congratulations! Buying a home is one of the best financial investments you can make, especially in an area as highly sought-after as Syracuse. We understand buying a home for the first time can be more than a little daunting and confusing, so we're here to make your first home purchase as easy, successful, and stress-free as possible. Take some time to look around our site and learn more about qualifying for a mortgage, searching for the perfect home in Syracuse, making an offer, and the closing process.

Have any questions about buying a home here? Please don't hesitate to give us a call.

Let's Break Down Your Mortgage

We need to talk about your mortgage. Chances are, you'll use a hefty mortgage loan to finance the majority of your home purchase. There are a lot of different options out there, and locating the one that's best for you requires a bit of research. First off, we highly recommend meeting with a couple of mortgage lenders to get pre-approved for a loan. That way, you'll know exactly what you qualify for and how much it will cost.

Below, you'll find more information about the specific types of mortgages available to home buyers in Syracuse.

The Different Types of Mortgages

There are four basic types of mortgages used by the majority of home buyers.

Conventional Mortgage

When you think of a "typical" mortgage, this is it—20% down payment, excellent credit required, in-depth financial reviews. Most buyers will use this type.

FHA Mortgage

For buyers that don't have a 20% down payment and excellent credit or financial history, there are other options, like the government-backed FHA mortgage.

VA Mortgage

Most active and veteran military members will qualify for a VA-backed loan, which offers looser financial review and as little as a 0% down payment.

USDA Mortgage

Geared toward buyers in more rural areas, the USDA loan also offers lower down payments and credit / financial history requirements.

What Do Mortgages Include?

There are four main components to a mortgage payment, often abbreviated as "PITI."


Simply put, this is the price of your home, minus your down payment. It's the initial amount you borrow.


The total amount of interest paid to your lender is calculated for the duration of your loan and paid monthly.


The taxes assessed on your property will be paid to your lender (who then pays your town or city) on a monthly basis.


Like property taxes, homeowner's insurance is typically paid to your lender on a monthly basis.

Going Loan Shopping and Understanding Your Options

How do you find a lender? Pick up the phone and start calling! A good place to start is with your bank or other financial institutions you work with. You might also want to ask friends and family for recommendations. Local real estate agents are another great resource for lender recommendations. You'll want to talk to AT LEAST two or three different lenders about your mortgage options before you make any final decisions.

Most lenders, however, will offer you two basic types of interest rates:

Fixed-Rate Mortgage

On this type of loan, the interest rate is set for the duration of the loan. So your payments will not vary for the entire time you pay your mortgage.

Adjustable-Rate Mortgage

These loans have interest rates set by the current market rates—in other words, they'll change as the market does. They often start low but can increase over time.

Calculating Your Monthly Budget

Now that you have a better idea of everything a mortgage entails, it's time to determine how much you can afford to pay each month. The best and most accurate way to figure this out is by getting pre-approved with a lender.

Getting pre-approved basically just means talking to a lender in-depth about your finances. The lender will look over your annual income, any outstanding debts you may have, your assets, your borrowing history, and your credit report. Then, they'll give you an estimate for how much the bank is willing to lend you for your home. We highly recommend meeting with at least two different lenders before deciding on one.

Want a quick mortgage estimate? Try playing around with our mortgage calculator!

Mortgage Calculator

Do I Really Need to Work with an Agent to Buy a Home?

While you're not obligated to work with a real estate agent to buy a home, it is highly recommended. Unless you're an experienced real estate investor or lawyer, you may not understand the many rules, regulations, and best practices for buying a home in Syracuse. Plus, a good local agent will be able to offer invaluable advice into the different neighborhoods and areas of Syracuse, helping you determine which homes and neighborhoods are the smartest investments for you and for the future.

As with picking out a lender, you should do some research before you sign on with an agent. Your agent should be someone you know you can trust, an expert in their market area, and proficient in working with buyers of your experience level.

About Our Team

The Best Way to Shop for Homes in Syracuse

You've consulted your finances, found the perfect real estate agent, and started to draft a game plan for buying your dream home. Now, it's time for the fun part: finding it! You'll want to come up with a list of everything you need and want in a home. Think about the type of housing you'd like to be in—a stylish condominium, a spacious single-family home, or a cozy townhouse? What kind of amenities would you like in your next home? Does it need to be close to the highway for your commute? Focus on the features you really need and those you'd strongly like to have, but make sure you know the difference!

As you begin touring homes, write down everything you like and dislike about specific properties. Be as detailed as you can–this will help you organize your thoughts and figure out exactly what you want in a home.

Making an Offer

You found a home you love! Now it's time to make an offer. This is where things start to get a little tricky; you'll want to work with your agent to determine an offering price that will be appealing to both you AND the seller. You'll also want to discuss any contingencies that should be in place—like a home inspection and appraisal, particular closing dates, and buyer financing contingencies. This way, if anything falls through (you fail to qualify for a mortgage, the home inspection finds some issues, etc.) you aren't still obligated to buy the home!

What Will I Pay Upfront?

Earnest money

This typically low ($1,000 – $5,000) sum is submitted with your offer to show the seller you're serious. If they turn down your offer, you get your money back.

Down Payment

The amount will depend on your loan (on a typical loan, it's 20% of the price of your home) and will be submitted on closing day when you sign all your paperwork.

Closing Costs

These are typically low for buyers (since the seller pays agent commissions) but include various lender, inspection, appraisal, legal, and documentation fees

Requesting a Home Inspection

If your offer is accepted, it's time to schedule a home inspection. This is an extremely important part of buying a home. You'll want to hire an experienced professional to do a meticulous walk-through of the home to ensure that there aren't any lingering problems or maintenance issues that would affect the sale. You may not be able to catch these during your home tour, which is why it's so crucial to bring in a professional. This is to protect you as the buyer—you don't want to be hit with a serious structural issue right after you move in.


If everything looks good, it's time to sign the paperwork, make final negotiations and payments, and get your keys! Before you can close, though, you have to do the following steps below:

Review Your Contract

Your lawyer will be going over all the paperwork with a fine-tooth comb, but you'll want to make sure where numbers are coming from and what all the fine print means. Don't be afraid to ask questions.

Finalize Your Mortgage

Your lender will likely start hounding you for obscure-sounding paperwork... bear with them. This is all part of the mortgage approval, and while it may seem a bit overbearing, they're just doing their due diligence.

Pay, Close, and Get Keys!

On a predetermined date, you, your agent, your lawyer, and the seller (and their team) will sit down to go over the final details, sign LOTS of paperwork, and pay closing costs. Then (finally!) you get your keys!

Buying Your First Home Doesn't Have to Be Hard

At least, that's what we think. Give us a call today to begin the process of finding your dream home—at your dream price. We're a professional real estate team with years of experience serving the greater Syracuse area. Allow us to leverage our expertise, in-depth area knowledge, and years of experience to help you find the home that's right for you. Give us a call today to get started.