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Buy Your First Home

Thinking about buying your first home?

We’ll help you understand your financing choices so you can make informed decisions about your first home loan

It’s your first home, but it’s not our first mortgage. Count on us to help you understand each stage of the process.

What are the benefits of homeownership for first-time buyers?

Homeownership brings many benefits. When you buy your first home, you’ll become part of a community and experience the security of owning the roof over your head. Get more information about these potential benefits and others in My FirstHome®, an online learning experience that’s helping first-time buyers like you.

As a homeowner, you may also be able to:

  • Take control. Avoid rent increases and cancelled leases while creating a home that meets your needs and tastes.
  • Build home equity. Grow your assets with the principal portion of your mortgage payments as your property value potentially increases.
  • Get tax benefits. Deduct mortgage interest and real estate property taxes on your income tax returns. (Consult a tax advisor regarding the deductibility of interest).
  • Build your credit. Create a strong credit history by making on-time mortgage payments.


    Are you better off renting or buying? Calculate the costs. Get started

What resources do you have for first-time buyers?

We support first-time homebuyers with a variety of resources. Our goal is sustainable homeownership — customers who buy homes and live in them successfully for years to come.

  • Educational content. We focus on helping customers understand their loan options so they can make informed financing decisions. This Learning and Planning Center gives answers to questions many first-time owners ask about the homebuying process. In addition, we offer a loan comparison tool and information about different loans and programs.
  • My FirstHome®. We created an interactive learning experience that helps buyers consider their readiness for homeownership and learn more about all the aspects of owning a home. Start now
  • The Wells Fargo LIFT programs. Wells Fargo invests in the future by supporting sustainable homeownership and neighborhood stability. The CityLIFT® and NeighborhoodLIFT® programs offer down payment assistance and financial education to qualified buyers in selected cities. Learn more

What should I consider before buying a home?

Homeownership is a serious and long-term commitment: financially, geographically, emotionally, and more. For more information on benefits and responsibilities of homeowning, visit My FirstHome®, our interactive learning experience for first-time buyers.

Give careful thought to these factors as well:

  • Financial responsibility. You’ll need to pay for utilities, maintenance, and repairs — on top of your mortgage payments, property taxes, and homeowners insurance.
  • Potential risk. Real estate often increases in value over time, but not always. Your property value can also go down.
  • Tighter ties. As a renter, you can pick up and move with short notice. When you own a home, selling it before moving on is more complicated.

A home is probably one of the largest purchases you’ll ever make. Knowing what to expect can help you make informed financial decisions.


First-time homebuyer? Sign up for a free guide. Get started

How can I get started with homebuying?

Knowledge of the area where the property is located, as well as an understanding the financial considerations that go along with buying a home can increase your chances for a successful start. Here are some steps you can take to get started.

Create a financial plan

Understand your credit needs and borrowing ability.

  • Check your credit history and make a plan to get your credit in shape if necessary.
  • Determine how much you can put toward a new home. The total amount you need is the sum of your down payment and closing costs.
  • Use our monthly payment calculator to estimate payments for various mortgage amounts and interest rates. Your monthly payment will usually also include an amount for  property taxes and homeowners insurance. And, if your down payment is less than 20%, you’ll generally also need to get private mortgage insurance (PMI). 

Video - How much can you borrow?

This video details housing and debt-to-income ratios, two factors lenders use to help determine your borrowing limits.

Calculate your housing and debt-to-income ratios to assess your ability to make payments.

Set a time frame

Determine when you’d like to buy your home and use your financial and credit information to establish a budget that can help you achieve your goal.

Consider using a real estate agent

While it’s easy to search for homes online today, you receive invaluable information and assistance by working with a licensed real estate agent.

Many real estate agents also hold a REALTOR® designation. A REALTOR® is a member of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). The NAR trains its members in the most effective professional practices and requires them to abide by its strict Code of Ethics.

A licensed real estate agent may help you navigate the homebuying transaction more smoothly. Some of the benefits you’ll enjoy include:

  • Professional assistance and representation
  • Marketplace experience and access to up-to-date information
  • Services provided at no direct cost to you because the agent is compensated from the seller-paid commission when you buy a home

Get started finding a real estate agent by asking friends and family for referrals, ask your home mortgage consultant, or do your research online.

What home financing basics should I understand?

If you obtain home financing, you’ll repay more than the amount you borrowed. How much you repay is determined by several factors, including your interest rate and loan amount. Here are some terms you should understand.

Interest rate

  • The interest rate is the percentage of your loan amount we charge you to borrow money.
  • Interest rates are based on current market conditions, your credit score, down payment, and the type of mortgage you choose. Check today’s rates.

Discount points

  • One point equals 1% of your mortgage amount. If you qualify, you may be able to pay one or more points to lower your interest rate. A lower interest rate means lower monthly mortgage payments.
  • Points are usually tax deductible. Consult a tax advisor regarding tax deductibility. On refinances you may be able to finance points as part of your mortgage amount.

Origination charge

  • On a mortgage, this amount includes all charges (other than discount points) that all loan originators (lenders and brokers) involved will receive for originating the loan.
  • The origination charge covers items including fees, document preparation, and underwriting costs, and other expenses.
  • On refinances, if you qualify, you may be able to finance the origination charge as part of your loan amount.

Loan term

  • Your loan term is the amount of time you have to pay off your mortgage balance.
  • Shorter loan terms typically mean higher monthly mortgage payments, but often have lower interest rates.
  • If you pay off your mortgage balance within a shorter term, you may pay less in total interest than with a longer-term mortgage.

Remember that interest rates only tell part of the story. The total cost of a mortgage is reflected by the interest rate, discount points, and origination charges. This total cost is known as the annual percentage rate (APR), which is typically higher than the interest rate. The APR lets you compare mortgages of the same dollar amount by considering their total annual cost.

Monthly mortgage payment

Your monthly mortgage payment is typically made up of four parts:

  • Principal . The part of your monthly payment that reduces the outstanding balance of your mortgage.
  • Interest . The part of your monthly payment that goes toward the cost of borrowing the money.
  • Taxes . The part of your monthly payment that goes toward property taxes charged by your local government. We typically collect a portion of these taxes in every mortgage payment and hold the funds in an escrow account for tax payments made on your behalf as they become due.
  • Insurance . The part of your monthly payment that pays for homeowners or hazard insurance, which provides protection against losses from property damage due to wind, fire, or other risks. Like taxes, insurance costs are usually collected and paid from an escrow account.

Depending upon your property location, property type, and loan amount, you may have other monthly or annual expenses such as mortgage insurance, flood insurance, or homeowner association fees.

Video - The components of a mortgage payment

Watch this video to understand what makes up a typical mortgage payment – principal, interest, taxes, and insurance – and how they can change over the life of the loan. 

Check today’s rates to see our current interest rates.

How can I estimate how much I might be able to borrow?

There are different ways to estimate a price range that's appropriate for you. The words prequalification and preapproval may refer to two different services provided by mortgage lenders. While both are useful options for learning your potential purchase price range, it’s important to understand how they differ.


We offer two prequalification options:

  • Prequalification letter .  If you’re considering buying a home, this gives you a general estimate of the loan amount you may qualify for based only on preliminary information you provide (without us obtaining a credit report).
  • Prequalification with credit letter .  If you expect to buy a home but might not be ready to start making bids, this letter carries a little more weight. It provides a general estimate of the loan amount you may qualify for based both on preliminary information you provide and an initial review of a credit report.


Our Priority Buyer ® preapproval letter empowers you to bid on a home with confidence and lets sellers and real estate agents know you mean business. It’s more formal than a prequalification because it:

  • Confirms you’ve submitted an application, are credit-checked and have completed the first loan decisioning phase.
  • States the approximate mortgage loan amount and purchase price range for which you qualify, subject to certain conditions or documentation.
  • Means we may offer a loan commitment once all information on your application is verified, underwriting requirements and conditions are satisfied and acceptable property-related reports are provided.

Video - Prequalification versus preapproval

Prequalification versus preapproval This video defines two options for estimating your price range for a house and the benefits of each. 

Have questions or need help? Our home mortgage consultants are available to help you. Contact us today.

Benefits of a preapproval 

Having a Priority Buyer ® preapproval letter can provide several benefits. It identifies you as a serious buyer, adds to your negotiating strength when making an offer, lets you shop confidently, and may allow for a faster closing.

It can also help you identify and address possible qualification needs early in the homebuying process. Plus, if you’re a first-time homebuyer with no record of previous mortgage payments, a preapproval may help you feel much more confident pursuing your first home purchase.

Have questions or need help? Our home mortgage consultants are available to help you throughout the home financing process. Contact us today.

How will you evaluate my home financing application?

When you apply for home financing, we generally use these four main criteria to assess your application.


Do you have a reliable, continuing source of income to make monthly payments?

  • Income can come from primary, second, and part-time jobs, as well as overtime, bonuses, and commissions.
  • You may use other sources of income if you want them considered for payment, provided they can be verified as stable, reliable, and likely to continue for at least three years. Some examples include retirement or veteran’s benefits, disability payments, alimony, child support, and rental or investment income.

Current debts and credit history

Do you pay your bills, loans, credit cards and other debts on time?

  • We examine your payment habits before deciding to loan you money.
  • We also review your credit history and credit score.

It's a good idea to check your credit history and correct any problems before applying. Wells Fargo also offers a series of online credit education videos.

Assets and available funds

Do you have enough funds for a down payment (if you're buying a home) and closing costs?

  • You may use funds from various accounts including savings accounts, certificates of deposit (CDs), investments, and retirement funds.
  • If you're buying a home, in some cases, you may be able to use gift funds toward closing costs and all or part of your down payment.
  • Generally, you’ll also need to show that you have additional funds in your accounts to cover several months of mortgage, tax, and insurance payments.

The property

What is the market value of the property you want to finance?

We will order a property appraisal to make sure the value of your property meets our underwriting requirements.

Responsible lending guidelines

We approve applications where we believe the borrower has the ability to repay the loan or line of credit according to its terms. We use two ratio-based guidelines to evaluate your ability to repay.

Debt-to-income ratio
Debt-to-income ratio is the percentage of your monthly income that is spent on monthly debt payments.What is debt-to-income ratio? Debt-to-income ratio is the percentage of your monthly income that is spent on monthly debt payments.

  • We compare your expected monthly mortgage payment (principal, interest, taxes, and insurance) plus other monthly debt obligations to your gross (pre-tax) monthly income.
  • Mortgage program guidelines vary, but a good rule of thumb is to keep your total debt level at or below 36% of your gross monthly income.

Housing-expense-to-income ratio

  Housing-to-income ratio is the percentage of your monthly income that is spent on monthly housing payments.
What is housing-to-income ratio? Housing-to-income ratio is the percentage of your monthly income that is spent on monthly housing payments.

  • We also compare just your expected monthly mortgage payment (including taxes and insurance) to your gross monthly income.
  • Mortgage program guidelines vary, but a good rule of thumb is to keep your housing expense level at or below 28%.

Even if you fall within the 28%/36% guidelines, make sure you’re comfortable making your monthly mortgage, insurance, and tax payments, in addition to all of your other monthly payments. Remember that homes have other costs — such as utilities, maintenance, and repairs — that may not exist if you rent.

How to calculate your ratios

How can I find a home that meets my needs?

In today’s world of instant access, you have a wealth of options available to you through internet searches and mobile apps. You can find detailed information, pictures, as well as video tours of homes available for sale.

In addition, you can receive valuable information and assistance by working with a real estate agent to locate properties for sale that meet your needs. Real estate agents make it their business to know about communities and the homes within them.

As you begin your search, keep these items in mind:

Location, features, and amenities

  • Location is as important as appearance or size. Do you need to be in a particular school district, close to a job, public transportation, or day-care facility?
  • Consider which features and amenities you want in your new home using our home wish list (PDF)*. Separate “wants” from “needs” and prioritize your list.

Types of homes

  • A single-family home is one of the most popular options.
  • Condominiums, town homes, and co-ops all offer different lifestyle and ownership features. You’ll need to budget for monthly fees for garbage and snow removal, landscaping, and similar services charged by these communities.

Consider newly built homes in addition to existing homes. Our Construction Lending Center provides financing tips and buying considerations.

Sometimes finding your ideal home involves compromise. You may want to consider “a diamond in the rough” — a place you can transform with a bit of ingenuity or some renovations. Ask a home mortgage consultant about our Purchase & RenovateSM loan that allows you to buy a home and make renovations and repairs in one transaction.

If you aren’t already working with a real estate agent, your home mortgage consultant can provide you with information to contact real estate agents in your area. Your real estate agent and home mortgage consultant will work together to help make homebuying a rewarding experience.

What can I expect during the homebuying process?

Your real estate agent can help you through each stage of the homebuying process.

Get preapproved

As you go through the process it’s a good idea to have a preapproval for maximum leverage.

Our PriorityBuyer® preapproval letter identifies you as a serious buyer, adds to your negotiating strength when making an offer, lets you shop confidently, and may allow for a faster closing.

Make an offer

Work with your real estate agent to determine the appropriate amount for your initial offer based on comparable home sales, market value, condition of the home, and your closing date.

Put your offer in writing 

Handle all negotiations in writing to make sure both parties understand the terms of the agreement. If you do negotiate verbally, follow up in writing.

Submit a deposit 

This "good faith" deposit demonstrates your commitment to the transaction.

Finalize your purchase contract

The contract is a legally binding contract between the buyer and seller describing all the terms of the transaction. Depending on your state, an attorney, real estate agent, or title company may help negotiate and draft the contract.

Other tools and resources

While our Learning and Planning Center helps you understand all the stages of the home financing process, we also provide additional tools and resources.


Learning about different kinds of home loans will help you make an informed decision. Review the loan choices below and use our other resources as well. My FirstHome® is an interactive learning experience that uses graphics, games, and self-checks to present complex information. Also visit our Loans and Programs area to learn about the features and benefits of different home loans.

Loan options to consider
Fixed payments
Lower payments starting out
Lower down payment
Money for renovations
Higher loan amount
Fixed rate mortgages
View details

Adjustable-rate mortgages
View details


FHA and VA loans
View details

Purchase & RenovateSM program
View details


Mortgage + home equity financing
View details

Home OpportunitiesSM program
View details


 Find the Right Loan for You 

Customize and compare rates, payments, and estimated closing costs.

Get started

We’re committed to a clear and straightforward application process so our customers understand their loans. To learn more about the lending process, review the information below. You can also complete the My FirstHome® interactive learning experience, developed specifically for first-time buyers.

The mortgage application process

What are the steps to apply for a mortgage?

Step 1: Gather essential information.

Before you start, have the following information on hand: 

  • Financial information : Income, asset, and expense information.
  • Property information : Estimated purchase price and down payment amount (if buying) or estimated property value and loan amount (if refinancing).

To learn more about the information you’ll need, review our homebuying application checklist (PDF)* or refinance application checklist (PDF)*

Video - The loan application process

Watch this video to learn more about the steps to complete a mortgage application.

Complete the online contact form to have a home mortgage consultant contact you.

Step 2: Begin your application

Get started through any of these convenient ways:

  • Call us at 1-877-937-9357, Monday – Friday, 7:00 am – 9:00 pm, and Saturday, 8:00 am – 4:30 pm Central Time.
  • Complete the online contact form to have a home mortgage consultant contact you.

Your home mortgage consultant will ask for the financial and property information you’ve gathered.

Step 3: Provide supporting documents.

Your home mortgage consultant will:

  • Order a credit report and request any additional documents that we’ll need from you.
  • Provide important disclosure documents to review, sign, and return, including:
    • A Truth-In-Lending Disclosure that shows  terms of the loan, the monthly payment, the annual percentage rate (APR), and the costs of making and closing the loan, including your finance charges.

Learn more about requested documents we may need.

Avoid delays by submitting legible, complete documents as soon as possible, along with any required fees.

Do I need to pay a fee to submit a mortgage application?

Yes, there is a fee to apply for a mortgage. Fees cover the cost of the credit check, verification of your financial information, and property appraisal. Fees vary by loan type and the location of the property. Your home mortgage consultant will provide specific fee details during the application process.

Is there an advantage to locking in my pricing?

If you want to avoid the possibility that interest rates will rise before you close on your home loan, you can lock in your loan pricing after your mortgage application is completed.

For more information, please refer to the Loan Pricing Disclosure.

Is the process different for some types of mortgage loans?

Yes, renovation and new construction mortgage applications involve some additional steps.

Renovation mortgages

If you're purchasing and renovating or refinancing and renovating, you'll need to estimate the post-improvement value of the property. The property appraisal obtained during the processing of your loan must support this estimate.

Visit our Home Improvement Lending Center for more information.

New construction mortgages

When you're purchasing a home from a builder, the new construction mortgage process is very similar to the process for buying an existing home. You can choose a pricing lock for an extended period. This protects you from financial market fluctuations while your new home is being built.

Visit our Construction Lending Center for more information.


We provide a variety of resources to make the post-application process clear and straightforward. Complete the My FirstHome® interactive learning experience to learn more about each stage of the homebuying journey. You can also track your application every step of the way with our online status tool.

After you apply for a mortgage

What are the steps after my mortgage application is submitted?

Your home mortgage consultant will submit your application for review.  If additional documents are requested, learn more about them in our online document library.

During the financial and property review, we’ll:

  • Verify your employment, income, and financial information
  • Order services such as an appraisal, title insurance, and flood certification.
  • Send you a list of conditions, upon loan approval, that have to be met before you can prepare to close your loan.

You’ll need homeowners insurance to close your loan. Get competitive quotes from multiple insurance providers through Wells Fargo Insurance.  Call 1-877-260-7471, Monday through Friday, 7:30 am to 8:00 pm or Saturday from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm Central Time.

How does the mortgage closing process work?

Prepare to close
Once your application is approved, we’ll work with you and your closing agent to complete the following steps:

  • Ensure all loan approval and closing conditions have been met.
  • Confirm or set a closing date to sign your loan documents.
  • Review the title insurance to make sure you have rights to the property.
  • Review your homeowners insurance policy to make sure you have adequate coverage.

Before your closing, you'll receive your final figures, which include closing costs, escrows and, if you’re buying a home, the down payment.  Your closing agent will let you know the dollar amount, if any, you need to bring to your closing, so you can obtain a cashier’s check.

At closing
We’ll send the closing documents to your closing agent. On your closing day, review the documents carefully with your agent, then sign and date them.

  • If you're buying a home, collect the keys and move in. Congratulations!
  • If you're refinancing, you have a three-day right-of-rescission to cancel the transaction.

After your loan closes, consider managing your account online. Wells Fargo Online® gives you convenient access to account information, tax data, and payment options. Learn more about online payments or sign up for online banking.

How can I keep track of my mortgage application?

Your home mortgage consultant can answer any questions regarding your application status. Also, our Online Application Status allows you to:

  • Track your loan every step of the way in the privacy of your own home or wherever you have internet access.
  • Receive updates regarding the progress of your mortgage application.
  • Check your “action item” list.
  • Find out what documents are needed, where to send them, and more.

What can I do to help my mortgage close on time?

Here are a few important steps you can take to help your mortgage loan close more quickly:

  • Provide accurate information during your loan application interview. Discrepancies in your credit history, employment history, or current bank account balances could delay your application.
  • We may request additional documents as we process your application. Help keep your application moving by submitting them promptly. If additional documents are requested, you can learn more about them in our online document library.
  • Do not make big purchases, take on additional debt or make large deposits or transfers unrelated to your loan until after your closing.

Is the process different for other types of mortgage loans?

Yes, renovation mortgages and new construction mortgage loans involve some additional steps.

Renovation mortgages

  • For all renovation loans, we base the appraised value on the completed improvement value.
  • Wells Fargo must approve your contractors and close the loan before work can begin. Our funding department will assist you in making interim payments to your contractor(s).
  • If you have an FHA 203(k) loan, we must perform inspections of the work before we release funds.
  • Once the inspector is satisfied with the work quality, we release the funds from the escrow account. The checks are made out jointly to you and your contractor. Typically, we do not release funds until work is completed. Upon completion of the project, we perform a final inspection and we disburse the final funds.

Visit our Home Improvement Lending Center for more information.

New construction mortgages

  • You can choose a pricing lock over an extended period. This gives you protection from financial market fluctuations over the time your new home is being built.
  • We’ll work with you to get your permanent loan approved. We’ll also get the final plans and specs so that we can order an appraisal.
  • After we have the appraisal and a fully executed purchase contract, we’ll submit the entire package for final construction loan approval.

Visit our Construction Lending Center for more information.


After your mortgage closes, it’s easy to manage your account online. You can view your account activity, transfer funds, make payments, and more. My FirstHome®, our interactive learning experience about homeownership, can also give you more information about managing your mortgage.

Manage Your Mortgage Account

Manage Your Home Equity Account

Manage Your Finances

We'll help you estimate how much you may be able to borrow. Get Prequalified
Find a local consultant or call 1-877-937-9357
Private mortgage insurance
Private mortgage insurance (PMI) is insurance written by a private company that protects the lender from losses in the event the borrower defaults on the mortgage. Borrowers are required to pay the premium for private mortgage insurance. Private mortgage insurance limits a lender's exposure to financial loss resulting from loan default. If you make a down payment of less than 20%, even if you have a good credit profile, lenders generally require private mortgage insurance.
Good Faith Estimate
A document provided within three days of application that shows borrowers the approximate costs of the transaction, based on common practice in the locality. Under requirements of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA), the loan originator must deliver or mail the GFE to the applicant.
Truth in Lending Disclosure
Under the federal Truth in Lending Act (TILA), lenders must provide full disclosure of credit terms. The Truth in Lending disclosure statement shows the loan term, the annual percentage rate (APR), the monthly payment schedule, the total amount of finance charge to be paid, any prepayment penalty, and other important terms.

Appraised value

The home's estimated value — known as appraised value — is an important part of your financing. If you're purchasing, this value usually needs to be equal to or more than the home's purchase price. If refinancing, the appraised value helps to determine your maximum loan amount.

Title insurance
An insurance policy that protects a lender or homebuyer (if the homebuyer purchases a separate policy, called owner's coverage) against any loss resulting from a title error or dispute. On a refinance, if the property has had a recent title insurance policy, a homeowner may sometimes be eligible for a reduced rate on the title insurance (also known as the reissue or refinance rate).
Standard conditions include our receipt of homeowner's insurance policy, flood insurance if necessary, and an acceptable title insurance binder.
Closing agent
This is the person or company that coordinates the execution of your closing documents. May be called by different titles in different states. Some common terms are attorney, title company, settlement agent, escrow company, notary, among others.