Eight First-Time Home-Buying Mistakes to Avoid

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Buying a home for the first time can be quite a daunting process. It’s easy to make mistakes if you don’t have the proper guidance. At SRP Federal Credit Union, we understand the many challenges first-time home buyers face when trying to take that next step in life.

Here are eight mistakes first-time home buyers should strive to avoid when obtaining their first home.


The mistake: Using the same agent as the seller.
How to avoid it: You may be told that you can save money by using one real estate agent for the transaction. However, the reality is that you are much better served by having someone looking out for ONLY your best interests.


The mistake: Buying points without considering how long you will stay in the home.
How to avoid it: When you buy points on a mortgage, you lower the interest rate on the loan by providing more money up-front. This certainly makes sense if you are planning on staying in the property long-term and will save a large amount of money by paying less interest over that time frame. However, if you plan on moving within a few years or are buying the home with the idea of selling it relatively quickly, it probably doesn’t make much sense to buy points.


The mistake: Using an adjustable rate mortgage to buy before you are ready.
How to avoid it: One of the reasons for the housing crisis of the late 2000’s and early 2010’s was that homebuyers were being encouraged to buy homes they couldn’t afford using a low initial interest rate that they could theoretically renegotiate as the value of the home increased. The problem came when many of those homes didn’t increase in value. Gambling that you will be able to refinance a mortgage or sell the home before the rate increases is not only risky, but puts you in a very stressful position as a homeowner.


The mistake: Including closing costs in the loan.
How to avoid it: The lender may provide you the option of including the closing costs in the mortgage loan if you are not able to meet this expense at the time of closing. However, financing these costs means paying more since you will have to pay interest too. You are better off saving up for closing costs ahead of time since this will cost you much less in the long-run.


The mistake: Being unaware of service contracts for your home.
How to avoid it: Hot water heater broken? Before you shell out the cash to have it fixed, check the paperwork to see if repairs are covered in a service contract included in the loan agreement. You don’t want to pay out of pocket for something that is already covered.


The mistake: Thinking a passing home inspection grade means no worries.
How to avoid it: The best home inspectors will give you notes on possible future trouble areas even if they are working fine right now. However, this isn’t always the case. Don’t assume that a home inspector signing off on a property means that there won’t be any major expenses in the near future. Assuming that repair costs will spring up eventually and preparing accordingly is the best practice.


The mistake: Not planning to have HOA fees.
How to avoid it: With all the costs popping up as you move through the buying process, it can be easy to forget about Homeowners Association Fees. Unless you have money to burn, a successful home buying experience is going to involve understanding first what you can afford and then the total monthly cost of the property you are looking at—including potential increases.


The mistake: Failing to plan for potential increases in insurance or property taxes.
How to avoid it: With a fixed-rate mortgage, you might think your mortgage expenses are locked-in. But think for a moment of parts of the country hit by natural disasters in the past few years. Many homeowners in these areas have seen dramatic increases in their homeowners’ insurance as a result. Hopefully you won’t be hit by any cataclysms, but even if the odds of this are low, it’s still wise to have some money set aside in a housing fund to cover increased costs.


Visit SRP for Your Home Loans

If you are in the market for your new home, SRP Federal Credit Union has been making loans for over 50 years, so we need to talk if you're considering buying a home. With competitive rates, flexible terms, and unparalleled service, you'll be in the home of your dreams in no time.


We are eager to serve you at one of our many convenient locations. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us today.

This article is for informational purposes only. All loans subject to approval and rate may vary depending on individual’s credit history and other factors. Refinancing restrictions apply. All Credit Union loan programs, rates, terms, and conditions are subject to change at any time without notice. Membership required. SRP is federally insured by NCUA. NMLS #612441.


Eight First-Time Home-Buying Mistakes to Avoid

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For most of us, our car is the first or second most expensive asset we own, depending on our homeownership status. That's why the average car purchase can feel like a marathon, with most buyers spending almost 15 hours from the initial research to the final purchase. Throw in high price tags, a nationwide car inventory shortage, and struggling with financing, and you've got a recipe for frustration!


Fortunately, shopping around for your auto loan doesn't have to be a hassle. Lenders like SRP Federal Credit Union aim to make the process pain-free, and a few simple steps can help you narrow down your options fast. If you're ready to finance your new ride, read on for insights from the lending experts at SRP.


Figure Out Your Budget

Before you start searching "bank near me" to find auto loans, determine how much car you can afford.


Beyond the initial price tag, you'll also need to factor in your insurance, maintenance fees, and fuel costs. If you're trading in your current ride, you can shave some money off the up-front cost, but if you're taking out a loan, you'll also want to estimate how much your regular payments and interest might be.

SRP's online affordability calculator can help with this. As a general rule, you shouldn't spend more than 20% of your monthly budget on your new ride.


Check Your Credit

If you don't already know where you stand with your credit, check it before you look for a loan.


You can get a free copy of your credit report once every year from each of the three major credit reporting bureaus. As a result of the pandemic, all consumers can get free weekly copies of their credit reports through the end of 2023.


“You can get your credit score from your local credit union or bank in Augusta, often at no cost.  Members that have existing loans with SRP can view their credit scores through online banking or our mobile app. Alternatively, you can get it from personal finance apps and websites, including major institutions like Credit Karma and Experian.


Knowing about your credit can help you figure out what types of auto loans you're eligible for. Your loan approval, rates, and terms will often depend on your credit history. If you have better credit, you'll be eligible for more competitive terms.


There are plenty of free online tools that help you estimate your average loan interest rates based on your credit score and location. These sites can't guarantee rates and terms, but they can give you an idea of what to expect.


If you're not satisfied with what you see, consider postponing your car purchase for a few months to a year to improve your credit. You can also dispute any inaccurate information you notice on your credit report, which may raise your score. If your credit is low, you may still be able to seek a bad-credit or no-credit car loan.


Shop Around

Whether you have a great borrowing history or your credit could use some work, shopping around can help you find the best offers for your loan. You have two main options here: a car dealership vs. an online or brick-and-mortar financial institution.


Getting an auto loan from credit unions like SRP is ideal for several reasons.


Unlike dealerships, these lenders won't try to pressure you into buying a car. Some dealerships also mark up interest rates, which can cost you hundreds or even thousands over the lifetime of your car. You also can get loan pre-approval from a bank, which means you'll know exactly how much you'll pay for your loan in advance.


Get Pre-approval

On that note, let's talk about pre-approval. Getting pre-approved for a loan means you'll fill out a loan application and let the lender do a hard credit pull. The lender will then tell you how much they'll offer, locking in your rates in advance.


You'll then have a set window of time, often 30 days, in which to shop for your car.


Pre-approval has several benefits. In addition to giving you realistic expectations about how much car you can afford, you'll eliminate the guesswork and stress of securing a loan during your car purchase. You'll also come across as an experienced buyer with dealerships, who won't be able to mark up your interest rates.


Keep in mind that pre-approval is not the same as pre-qualification. Pre-qualification still gives you insight into your loan terms from the lender, but there's no binding agreement between you.


Find Your New Car

Armed with your pre-approval, it's time to shop around for your new ride. As you do your research on the makes and models you prefer, keep in mind that your lender may set restrictions around where you can make the purchase.


Many banks and credit unions in Augusta require borrowers to buy from a reputable source. They may limit you to trusted dealerships within their network.


Discontinued brands, older vehicles, or cars with high mileage may be ineligible under your pre-approval terms.


You often won't be able to buy from a private seller. However, certain types of loans do allow this, so do your research.


Finalize Your Loan

Once you're happy with your new ride, make a final decision about your loan.


Don't hesitate to check out the dealership's offer while you're there. In some cases, their financing may be better than your pre-approval terms. The same is true if you're buying a car from an online retailer.


Whatever you decide, follow the lender's instructions to complete your application. You'll need to finalize the loan contract and get the vehicle's title and registration updated to your name.


Choose SRP Federal Credit Union

Getting an auto loan doesn't have to be a frustrating process. With the right tips and an investment of your time and effort, you'll be able to drive off with your new ride under satisfying loan terms.


However, don't choose your auto lender by clicking the first result that pops up after a search for “loans near me". Instead, choose the expert lenders at SRP Federal Credit Union. We're proud to help drivers in Augusta, Aiken and the surrounding areas get the best deals possible, with great rates and flexible terms.


Check out what SRP has to offer by viewing our auto rates or getting in touch.


However, don't choose your auto lender by clicking the first result that pops up after a search for “loans near me”

This article is for informational purposes only. All loans subject to approval and rate may vary depending on individual's credit history and other factors. Refinancing restrictions apply. All Credit Union loan programs, rates, terms, and conditions are subject to change at any time without notice. Membership required. SRP is federally insured by NCUA.

Eight First-Time Home-Buying Mistakes to Avoid

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There’s no denying it: the season of giving is an emotional time. In fact, for most people, it’s probably the most emotional time of the year. And when kids are involved, those feelings tend to go into overdrive. Just about any expense can be rationalized because it’s being done in the spirit of creating an amazing holiday experience for the young ones.


Ironically, debt created by high expenditures around the holidays can make home life more stressful for months after the fact, making it harder to create a warm and positive environment in which kids can thrive.


So the question becomes: does it make sense to deplete your resources for a celebration that lasts a few days but could make the entire rest of the year more of a struggle? And what message is that sending to the children?


Experts in child development in general agree that the things kids need most as they grow up include:

•  Quality time
•  Security
•  Love/affection
•  Emotional support
•  Acceptance
•  Education
•  Structure/Consistency
•  Positive discipline
•  Physically healthy lifestyle
•  Positive role models
•  Self-esteem
•  Play
•  Responsibility
•  A sense of belonging


You’ll notice that the list doesn’t include “lots of expensive gifts.” No one is expecting you to check all of these boxes with your holiday celebrations this year, but emphasizing these kinds of needs instead of what might be your child’s wish list can leave you feeling better about the holiday season on a bunch of different levels.


Similarly, it can help to think about what kind of person you want your child to be. Do you want them to equate happiness with material possessions and pricey experiences? Or do you want them to be someone who finds meaning in activities that aren’t based on immediate gratification or materialism?


Here are a few ways that we at SRP Federal Credit Union suggest you can tap into holiday experiences that create beloved memories without breaking the bank.


Ask what they want

It can be as simple as, “Hey, what do you want to do for the holidays?” By emphasizing activities, you can help your child focus on the moments that mean the most to them instead of teaching them that happiness only comes with having the latest and greatest consumer items.

You can also use this conversation to set reasonable expectations for the holiday. By asking what 2-3 items your child wants, you can help them understand that you’re not an endless font of gifts.


Pay close attention

Depending on the age and disposition of your child, they may only spend a little time talking about their emotions or even their preferences. But as much as possible, try to pay attention throughout the year when they express a desire to do an activity or an interest in a particular topic. For example, if your child expresses concern about a specific issue, ask if they’d like to spend some time around the holiday volunteering for that cause.


Spend time exploring

A recent study found that 73% of kids wanted more time to bond with their families. Notice the word “bond.” Kids want quality time, not time rushing to-and-from school, practice, work, etc. Young people constantly explore new activities, ideas, and means of expression. Surely there are some inexpensive museums, natural attractions, festivals, or other enriching events your child would like to sample. By researching and participating in these quests, you demonstrate to your child that you care about their interests and want to spend excellent bonding time together.


Make a new tradition together

Undoubtedly, there are existing family traditions your child cherishes. But some may seem old-fashioned, tedious, or just plain dull. This could be a good time to demonstrate that you care about your child’s input, boosting their confidence and making them feel valued. What old tradition would they like to replace with a new one? Asking your child to take the lead in creating a new family holiday activity can help drive home the point that the season isn’t just about getting gifts but also creating memories.

Children often struggle to find the best way to express their feelings. By giving them some structure for putting their emotions into action, you can help them channel their inner life into the outside world in a healthy way.


Create “flower” videos

Today’s kids live in a video-heavy world. Even though to many parents, making a video might seem a little unnerving or invasive, young people today tend to be more comfortable communicating in short clips. This holiday season, consider using the format to create flower videos. What’s a flower video, you ask? It’s a short recording in which you talk about how much the recipient of the video means to you. You’re giving them verbal “flowers” to show how amazing you think they are.

Rather than posting it on social media, send the video directly to your child. While it may feel awkward for your child to sit down and have a heart-to-heart with you, a video can get across the same feelings while giving your child the ability to experience it in private. You can also start a discussion with your child about the people in their life they’d like to make a flower video for.

This process can help reinforce the idea that true love and generosity aren’t necessarily about spending lots of money. By delivering this sentiment during the holiday season, you can help your child have a much more positive relationship with money and the idea of what they “deserve” in life.

There’s no need to buy a great holiday season for your kids this year. There are plenty of ways to create feelings of warmth, love, and connection that cost almost anything. It may be a transition for your family, but it can pay off big in more ways than one down the road.


How SRP Can Help

If you have found yourself in debt from rampant holiday spending, SRP can help you by providing you with our financial education and counseling services.  Please visit the Financial Wellness page on SRP’s website to learn more about our onsite financial counseling services as well as our online financial wellness platform : BALANCE®. Both services can help you get back on your feet financially through debt reduction and thoroughly improving your money management skills.

If you would like to make a change in your holiday spending habits, the financial experts at SRP Federal Credit Union can help. Since our founding in 1960, we have been dedicated to our members. The members are the heart of our credit union and the sole reason for our existence. Visit one of our convenient locations throughout the CSRA to get started today.

This article is for informational purposes only.  Membership Required.  SRP is federally insured by NCUA.

Eight First-Time Home-Buying Mistakes to Avoid

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Some people are surprised when they find out how huge the market for colleges and universities is. In the United States alone, people spend more than $576 billion on higher education each year. In fact, the colleges and universities industry is the 22nd largest market in the entire country!


This is an incredible testament to how much value people place on a college education. However, that can also make it stressful for some people when they worry about how they will pay for college.


The good news is that this is a common problem that a lot of people have worked on for many years and even decades. There is a lot of wisdom out there that can help you earn and save money for your future college expenses.


With the right tools and tips to help you, it will be much easier for you to prepare the savings that you need. So how can you get ready for your future college costs?


Read on to learn all about the top ways to save up and pay for college!


Appreciate The Power Of Cutting Expenses

When many people think about preparing for college expenses, they focus on earning more money. In many cases, this is a great strategy. However, it is also worth paying special attention to the power of cutting down on expenses.


The first thing to understand about reducing your expenditures is that it helps you save more money than increasing your income by an equal amount. This can sound counterintuitive at first, so how is this possible?


Every dollar that you earn will only add part of a dollar to your wealth. That is because a significant amount of all of the money you earn will go to taxes.


On the other hand, the money you have already earned has already had taxes removed from it. That means that every dollar you have that you keep is a full dollar more in your pocket.


In other words, a dollar saved is worth more than a dollar earned. That makes saving the money you have more efficient than earning more money. Combining lower expenses with a higher income can be exactly what you need to get ready for your college expenses.


Start Saving Up For College Soon

Before you go to college, it can seem like it is an eternity away. However, when you get down to only a few months until you attend college, you will realize how little time you have to add to your wealth.


If you only have a year to earn a certain amount of money for college, it can seem extremely difficult. However, earning that same amount of money over a few years can be trivially easy by comparison.


It can be valuable to find ways to earn extra money. However, starting earlier is sometimes the most powerful way to make use of your current opportunities for making money.


Learn About College Financial Aid Options

The more financial aid you can receive, the less you will need to figure out how to earn and save money for college. Many people don't bother to apply for scholarships and grants until they are about to go to college. However, you will maximize your chances of obtaining scholarships and grants if you start applying as soon as you enter high school.


One thing that many people don't realize about scholarships and grants is that there are a lot of smaller options available. Many people don't even apply for these smaller amounts because they are about to go to college and need something bigger.


However, if you start applying earlier, then you can find ways to win many smaller scholarships and grants. You can combine that money with the larger amounts you might also be able to receive. However, larger scholarships and grants are more competitive, so it is still important for you to get started as soon as possible to try to get the money you need for your education.


Look For Ways To Lower Your College Costs

You can also look for ways to decrease how much your education will cost. With the right college budget, you might be able to decrease how much money you need to save as well as the size of your college loans.


Many students rely on loans and scholarships to fund their college education, so they end up spending money without thinking too much about it. However, putting together an efficient budget can make it much easier to afford your education.


Find The Right Bank To Help You

As you start saving up for college, you will want to find the best credit union or bank to help you do so. Among other things, it can be helpful to find a credit union or bank that provides a reasonable amount of interest for the money that you keep in a savings account. You might also be able to speak with your credit union or bank about how to make a successful plan to earn money for college and keep your expenses down.


Know How To Save Up And Pay For College

Many people place incredible value on a college education and worry about how they will pay for college when the time comes. The tips in this article will help you save up more money and get ready for your future college expenses. With the right preparations, this can help you afford college as well as reduce your college loan amounts.


To learn more about how you can find the right credit union or bank in Augusta,GA, Aiken, SC or the surrounding areas to help you improve your financial health, reach out and get in touch with us here at any time!


This article is for informational purposes only.  Membership Required.  SRP is federally insured by NCUA.