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Navigating the housing market for first-time homebuyers

Navigating the housing market for first-time homebuyers

If you’ve never bought a home before, you probably have a lot of questions about what to expect and how the process works — especially in today’s market.

Mortgage Banker Chase Hoffman is passionate about helping current and future homeowners along their buying, building, or remodeling journeys. We sat down with him for a Q&A on first-time home-buying, navigating the housing market, and his own personal home-buying experiences.

Find out what he had to say below, and reach out to Chase when you’re ready to start your home-buying journey!

Before we get into the fine details of first-time home-buying, tell us a little bit about yourself.

Ashley and Chase Hoffman.I live in Brandon with my wife, Ashley (who also works at First National Bank). Our household stays busy thanks to our beautiful daughter, Finley, and two pets, Kola the dog and Meeko the cat.

I graduated from the University of South Dakota with a bachelor’s in business administration management, but I’ve been working in mortgage banking for 8 years now — all with FNB. I started out as a Mortgage Loan Processor in 2016 and was promoted to banker one and a half years later.

Currently, I’m in my last year of the Graduate School of Banking at University of Wisconsin – Madison.

What are your areas of expertise in mortgage banking?

On top of the usual buying, building, remodeling, and refinancing, a couple of my strengths include first-time home-buying and construction loans.

What are the most common mistakes you see first-time homebuyers make, and how can they be avoided?

  1. Getting put into a loan product that doesn’t meet their long-term goals. I suggest finding a lender that has your interests in mind, like we do at First National Bank.
  2. Not reading the disclosures and knowing everything they’re paying for, such as fees, rates, etc. It’s important to take the time to read what your mortgage lender sends you — and if you have questions or want help, don’t be afraid to ask your banker to walk you through it.
  3. Buying too much home for their situation and becoming “house poor.” To avoid this, think about what kind of down payment is affordable for your budget.

What is something first-time buyers should know before starting the home-buying process?

You will have a multitude of borrowing options, regardless of your financial situation.

There are multiple loan programs available to first-time homebuyers, so it’s important to do your research and talk to your banker about what programs fit you best.

Even for those who may not be in a position to buy right away, there are several options for credit repair or financial education offered by outside parties that can help you put yourself in a better position to buy down the road. Ask your lender for resources, or feel free to reach out to me with questions.

One more thing I’ll say is that buying a house shouldn’t be a rush; time isn’t always a luxury that everyone has, but if possible, plan ahead.

Do you have any personal experience to share from your own first-time home-buying journey?

I wasn’t assertive enough about my questions when buying my first house.

The mortgage was with a different financial institution, and I followed what I was told without asking about what I was really getting into.

The appeal of owning a home can be blinding, so something I preach is that the process should take some time and that it’s important to educate yourself and know what you’re signing.

That being said, homeownership has been incredibly rewarding for my family. It’s worth the effort, time, and capital you’ll be investing in it.

What are 3–5 pieces of advice you would give to prepare a first-time homebuyer?

  1. Think and plan ahead. Ask yourself, what is my five-year plan? What do I need to do to get there? Your banker can also help you answer those questions.
  2. Ask questions, and know what you’re signing up for. Understanding the home-buying process can only benefit you.
  3. Lean on your real estate professionals. Whether your realtor, mortgage lender, or title company, they are here to answer your questions and work for you. Ask them for help, and lean on their expertise.
  4. Saving for a down payment is important, but it’s the costs that pop up after you buy your home that can really hurt. Don’t put all of your savings into buying a home, and make sure you have a “nest egg” saved up for emergencies after you make the purchase.
  5. Don’t settle. Buy the house you love and can see yourself living in. Plan to take your time. If you find the perfect house quickly, great — but don’t go in expecting that.

What resources would you recommend to first-time homebuyers throughout the home-buying process?

I highly recommend meeting with your lender first, then meeting with a realtor. These experts possess a wealth of knowledge and have most likely encountered situations similar to yours before.

Then, attending a homebuyer education course through Lutheran Social Services (LSS) or Sioux Empire Housing Partnership is a great next step. I teach homebuyer education at LSS and would be happy to give you more information about the program — just give me a call!

Chase Hoffman leaning on a decorated credenza in his office.

What are the benefits for a first-time homebuyer of getting pre-qualified?

You can’t make an offer on a house without a pre-qualification letter to begin with, but talking to a lender well in advance of getting into the market is always a good idea.

An early conversation can help you put your objectives into perspective, and also allows you to discuss and set constructive goals that will inevitably help you find the perfect home.

How does the team at First National Bank help first-time homebuyers through the home-buying process?

Sioux Falls mortgage banker Chase Hoffman meeting with a customer.We like to have an initial meeting or conversation to discuss (or determine) goals and objectives regarding your first home purchase.

After that, if you haven’t already done so, you can begin by filling out a pre-qualification application on our website. We will then follow up with you about your application and issue a pre-qual letter, allowing you to make offers on homes.

Our Mortgage Bankers take the home-buying process very seriously for each individual applicant. If you can’t afford a home initially, we will work with you to lay out a plan of action and set goals that will put you on the path to homeownership.

First National Bank’s top priority is to help you make the best financial decision possible and, ultimately, help you achieve your dream of owning a home.

What do you expect to see from the housing market in 2024?

We’ve been experiencing a housing environment that is low on inventory and affordability.

I wouldn’t expect to see that change drastically, but we expect the market to begin to improve for homebuyers.

For most people, now is still a good time to buy a home rather than renting. However, everyone’s situation is different, so it’s important to chat with your banker about what’s best for you.

In addition to helping community members achieve their dream of homeownership, what are your favorite ways to stay active in the Sioux Falls area?

I enjoy serving on the board at Celebrate Community Church in Brandon, mentoring with and teaching homebuyer education at LSS, and participating in volunteer events such as Rake the Town and Feeding South Dakota.

Chase Hoffman raking leaves at the annual Rake the Town event.

Is there anything you would like to add?

Our team just wants the best for you, and we will do everything we can to help you meet your goals and achieve your dream of homeownership.

Do not hesitate to reach out to me if you have questions or if you’re ready to start your home-buying journey!

If you want to get to know Chase better or determine if he’s the right mortgage banker for you, learn more here. Otherwise, give him a call at (605) 782-5902 or email him at [email protected] to start your home-buying journey.

Equal Housing Lender

First Home Down Payment Options

In this video, Chase outlines options for coming up with a down payment for your first home.

Have questions? We're here to help.

Chase Hoffman

Mortgage Banker
Western Mall

Britt Strum

Mortgage Banker
57th Street

Jill Salter

Mortgage Banker

Terri Foster

Mortgage Banker
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