First Time Home Buyers: How to Beat the Odds

first time home buyers
first time home buyers

First time home buyers stand to benefit the most from today's slumping housing market. After all, they don't need to sell a house in order to buy one. AnnaMaria Andriotis at SmartMoney offers some valuable tips for first time home buyers braving a sea of new rules and regulations to achieve their dream this spring.

Without a house to sell, first-time home buyers have had a field day in the depressed housing market. Until recently, anyway. A series of new rules, regulations and policies have changed the landscape, making buying that new home harder and more expensive.

Not long ago, first-time buyers accounted for 40% of home sales. Now they're down to 29% and falling, experts say, as first-time buyers confront a steady accumulation of rising fees, costs, and rates. This month, fees on most new mortgages will rise by up to 0.50%. In April, fees on small-down-payment mortgages, a first-time buyer favorite, will spike. Meanwhile, more lenders are requiring larger down payments, andnew proposals from the Obama administrationcall for mortgages to become more expensive and limited in size.

The new fees and higher barriers to entry are all a response to the sweeping mortgage losses of the last several years. Banks and other lenders lost billions of dollars on subprime and other risky mortgages, and some must now buy back bad loans they sold to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. To cover those losses, banks and the agencies are raising fees on new mortgages, says Keith Gumbinger, a vice president at HSH Associates, which tracks the mortgage market. Also, from the perspective of lenders and the government, making it harder and more expensive to get a mortgage will deter or cull the riskiest borrowers and minimize defaults.