First-Time Home Buyer in Cornelius: 7 Things to Know

J.Cash Real Estate

Cornelius is a small suburb in northern Mecklenburg County in the Charlotte, North Carolina, metro area. Located on the shores of Lake Norman, Cornelius has a population of about 25,000 people. If you’re looking to move to Cornelius and purchase a home for the first time, then you probably need some tips and tricks for first-time home buying. Here are some of our top tips for buying a house as a first-time home buyer in Cornelius.

1. Set yourself apart

One of the best ways to set yourself apart when buying a home for the first time is to get a mortgage preapproval letter. A mortgage preapproval letter is an offer from a lender to loan you a specific amount of money under certain terms. Obtaining this letter up front will help show real estate agents and sellers that you are taking home-buying seriously. Make sure to apply for a preapproval when you’re ready to begin shopping for a home.

2. Find a good real estate agent

An excellent real estate agent will guide you through the process of negotiating and closing on the home. You can also get referrals from other home buyers for real estate agents. Ensure to interview at least a handful of real estate agents and get references from recent clients. You should also ask them about their experience helping other first-time home buyers in your real estate market.

3. Don’t put down 20% unless it makes sense

There are a few costs you need to think about when saving up for your first home, including the moving expenses, closing costs, and down payment. Most first-time home buyers know that they need to save for a down payment, but home-buying rookies often don’t factor in the moving expenses and closing costs when saving for their first house.
You may need to put down as much 20%, but some conventional loans for first-time home buyers in Cornelius require only 3% down. Closing costs usually range from about 2-6% of the total amount of your home loan. You will also need some expenses for moving to the house and cash for furniture, upgrades, and home repairs.

4. Be prepared to pay property taxes

No matter where you live, you must be prepared to pay property taxes on your home. According to the 2023 budget for Cornelius’ new financial year, all homeowners need to pay 84.89 cents per $100 of valuation on their home each year. Make sure to factor this cost into your budget when purchasing your first home in Cornelius.

5. Check out available loans and Homebuyer Assistance Programs

There are a wide range of different mortgage options available, including conventional mortgages, FHA loans, USDA loans, and VA loans. Conventional loans are geared towards first-time home buyers, and some of these loans only require you to put 3% down. FHA loans are mortgage loans that are insured by the Federal Housing Administration, and they allow as little as 3.5% down.
Guaranteed by the United States Departure of Agriculture, USDA loans require zero down payment and are meant for rural home buyers. VA loans typically require zero down payment and are for both current and veteran military service members.
There are also assistance programs available for first-time home buyers in Cornelius. These assistance programs usually combine low-interest-rate mortgages with closing cost and down payment assistance. The programs also offer tax credits for some first-time home buyers.

6. Complete a homebuyer education course

As a first-time home buyer in Cornelius, you should consider a homebuyer education course to learn more about all of the steps you need to take when purchasing your home. These classes are sometimes required for homeowners who want to participate in assistance programs.

7. Discover more tips for becoming a Cornelius homeowner

Determine what you can afford

Determine what you can afford to spend on your first home before looking at potential houses. There are a few online calculators that can help you set a potential price range, based on your credit score, down payment, debt, income, and exactly where you want to live.
A mortgage lender might be able to loan you more than what you can actually afford, so set a budget based on what you can afford and stick to that budget. If you’re in a competitive market, look at homes below your price limit to give yourself some wiggle room. On the flip side, if you’re in a buyer’s market, you can look at homes slightly above your price limit. We are currently in a Seller’s market making it much more challenging for first time home buyers to secure a property. This is a reason why it is important to work with an agent who is experienced and understands the market.

Check your credit score

It’s crucial to check your credit score regularly and work on strengthening it since your mortgage interest rate is partially based on your credit score. Boosting your credit score will help you get a lower mortgage rate from lenders, and you can take a few steps to increase your score. Get copies of your credit reports from TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian, and dispute anything that could damage your score. Make sure to pay all of your credit card bills on time and keep the balances low.

Compare mortgage rates and fees

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau suggests getting mortgage loan estimates for the same kind of mortgage from several different lenders to compare the costs, including any origination fees and interest rates.
Mortgage lenders might give you the chance to purchase discount points or fees that you pay upfront to reduce your mortgage interest rate. If you have the money on hand and want to live in your home for a long period of time, then it might make sense to purchase points.

Pay for a home inspection

Home inspections give you a detailed assessment of the mechanical and structural systems in your home. Professional inspectors look for any possible issues, so you can decide whether or not to purchase the home. Remember that most standard inspections don’t test for pests, mold, or radon. If you want to test for these things, you need to add them. Inspections for buyers can run anywhere between $400 to $1200 depending on the property size and types of inspection performed.

Partner with a Cornelius real estate agent

Looking for a new home in Cornelius? Reach out to the trusted Cornelius real estate team at J. Cash Real Estate team for guidance.


We pledge to be in constant communication with our clients, keeping them fully informed throughout the entire buying or selling process. We believe that if you’re not left with an amazing experience, we haven’t done our job. We don’t measure success through achievements or awards, but through the satisfaction of our clients.

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