I agree with Alain . . . you need to get pre-approved with a good, trustworthy lender first. That's assuming you will be getting a loan. Once you have chosen a lender, then you need to find a local, experienced agent with whom you feel comfortable with. Ask the lender about his/her programs & rates. I can recommend several honest, knowledgeable lenders who've I've used, know & trust, if you need recommendations. The next step would be to choose a realtor. I've been a St. Charles realtor for almost 17 years and would be happy to meet with you to introduce myself and go over the process, if you'd like.
Once I know the amount you're pre-approved for and have your criteria (style of home, # bdrms, # baths, # garages, etc.), I can set up a search for you which will send both of us the results. Then after you select some you're interested in, we can go take a look at them to see what you think.
I'd be happy to help you & your husband with your new home search. Let me know if you have any questions.
Prudential Alliance, Realtors
I have a great new home buyers guide and would be happy to share it with you. A very important first step is to get pre-qualified for your mortgage. I can also give you the name of an excellent mortgage banker. So give me a call so I can help you! I love helping first time home buyers.
Coldwell Banker Gundaker
Tell them you are a first time buyer. Ask about first time buyer programs. There is one called Beyond Housing, here in St. Louis that currently offers down payment assistance to first time buyers in St. Charles. Here is a link to their site so you can see for yourself. The funds go quick because there is a limited supply and there are income limits and other stipulations but it is a great program if you do qualify. http://www.beyondhousing.org/programs/homeownership-center/
1 a. It is very important to make sure you are completely up front with the loan officer, do not be embarrassed to state your situation if you think you have credit issues. If you are serious about purchasing a home you will need to get all of the credit issues out of the way and a good loan officer will offer direction. Let them know you are looking to purchase a home and want to get a preapproved/prequalified so you can start shopping.
Tell them you are a first time buyer. Ask about first time buyer programs. There is one called Beyond Housing, here in St. Louis that currently offers down payment assistance and they do it by county. Right now they do have funds for St. Charles. Here is a link to their site so you can see for yourself. The funds go quick because there is a limited supply. http://www.beyondhousing.org/programs/homeownership-center/
Once you have identified a piece of property, a good lender will provide you with a good faith estimate of closing costs so you will have a ballpark figure of how much cash you need to bring to the closing table.
2. Once you get a valid pre approval in hand, then you can confidently contact a real estate agent and set up a time to meet to go over your house hunting goals. One important thing to remember--and do not be afraid to be up front with your agent about it either--is to try to avoid maxing your purchase price beyond your comfort zone. Do not make yourself house poor. 120k is at the high end of your preapproval, try to stick with a purchase price under that to keep things comfortable and allow for unexpected homeowner expenses.
While home ownership is great, you still want to make sure you have some dispensable income to go out on the town now and then...or buy cool things for your new space.
Good luck! Hope this was helpful!