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First-Time Buyer Learning Center

Explore resources dedicated to the home buying process, types of financing, tips and more.

Purchasing your first home is an exciting milestone. From choosing where you want to live, to selecting paint colors and finding the perfect space for you or your growing family, it’s all part of the journey of becoming a homeowner.

But before you start touring homes, it’s good to understand the basics of the entire process. Here we’ll cover preparing to buy, understanding how home financing and all costs work, as well as shedding light on the most fundamental aspects of buying and owning a home.

Select where you are in your home buying journey below to explore our articles and resources.

I'm starting my research

Learn more about budgeting and saving up for a home, the role of credit, and the homebuying process.

I’m closer to buying 

Discover ways to secure your purchase, what you’ll need for a mortgage, closing costs and much more.

I’m ready to talk to someone 

Connect directly with our Home Loan Consultants so you can find the right mortgage solution for your needs.

We were very hesitant about talking to a financial institution…we’re so grateful to be able to work with a non-profit credit union that’s really taking into account the human factor into finances.” – Natalie H, Patelco Member

Understanding the basics of buying a home

Buying a home is a big milestone, and researching the process is the first step!

From developing your budget, to learning about credit scores and how much to save for your down payment, we’re here to make sure you’re doing what’s best for your financial journey. Learn more about the basics of home buying from our expert articles.

First-time home buyer’s guide

Owning a home is part of many members’ financial goals. In addition to providing shelter, a home can create generational wealth or serve as a long-term investment. Understanding the process and knowing how to prepare are key ingredients to successfully achieving homeownership.

Preparing to buy a home – what you need to know

You’ve done your research, you understand the basics of your budget and now you’re ready to buy.

Before you start putting offers on homes, be sure to check out some resources to help guide you in making the best home buying decision possible.

Navigating the Path to Homeownership – a podcast

Home Purchasing

Navigating the Path to Homeownership – a podcast

CalendarJuly 11, 2023


In this episode of Small Talks for Big Change, Michele Enriquez discusses homebuying with Fred Williams, a Home Loan Consultant at Patelco, as they debunk myths about home loan rates and emphasize Patelco’s commitment to helping members achieve their homeownership goals.

Fred highlights the importance of personalized guidance. Discover how Patelco’s approach stands out and learn more by scheduling an appointment with a Home Loan Consultant today!

Listen on Spotify Listen on Apple Podcasts
Prepare your budget with our mortgage calculator

Take the guess work out of the homebuying process. If you’re thinking about buying, then you’ll need to consider a few areas of spending to determine how much you can afford. Remember: it’s not always a matter of how much you could borrow, but rather how much you should borrow.

Use our calculator below to help fine tune your budget.

Mortgage Calculator

How much home can I afford? (Below, “Monthly child support payments” refers to child support payments made as a monthly expense, not to income from child support.)

Calculations provided are for demonstration purposes only and do not guarantee credit approval for the rate and terms displayed.

Your home loan options explained

We know there are a lot of mortgage products out there, so here’s an easy glimpse into the most common types that Patelco offers and how much you can expect to borrow through each.

Loan Program

Down Payment

Borrow up to1

Key benefit

First Time Buyer loan 3% down $766,550 Low down payment with no closing costs2
VA loan 0% down $766,550 Affordable options for Veterans
and active duty service members
FHA loan 3.5% down $766,550 Low down payment and easier credit qualifications
Jumbo loan 5% down3 $1 million Buy in higher price range
Piggyback (80/10/10) loan 10% down +
10% down from 2nd mortgage
$2 million 20% overall down payment may help qualify
for larger loan and save on costs

Frequently asked questions for first-time buyers

The Patelco advantage

Low rates, flexible options

Competitive rates, flexible loan programs and down payment options

Expert advice and guidance

Personalized advice and guidance at each step – find a Home Loan Consultant here

Property research tools

Search for properties, receive special discounts and more with Home Advantage4

Fast and free pre-approvals

Shop for homes with confidence with our full credit approvals

Lock your rate while you shop

Secure your rate for up to 30 days while you’re actively making offers5

On-time closings

We’re committed to closing quickly to meet your contract deadlines

Questions about home buying? We have you covered.

1 Loan amount may vary by county.

2 Closing costs fees include applicable title, escrow and recording cost fees and will appear on the Closing Disclosure. The appraisal and credit report fee will be paid up-front by the member and reimbursed at closing. Hazard Insurance, Taxes, HOA fees, Purchase Owner’s Policy and Transfer Tax are not covered by Patelco. At least one borrower must be a first-time home buyer (had no ownership interest in a property in the last three years). Applicable on the purchase of a single-family residence and 30-year fixed conforming loans with minimum 740 FICO.

3 Eligible for conforming loan amounts and 95% loan-to-value (LTV) available on 15-and 30-year fixed jumbo mortgages only. Loans over 80% LTV require mortgage insurance.

4 The HomeAdvantage program is made available to you through a relationship between Patelco Credit Union and CU Realty Services. Program rebates are awarded by CU Realty Services to buyers and sellers who select and use a real estate agent in the HomeAdvantage network of approved realtors. Home buyers or sellers are not eligible for the rebate if they use an agent outside this network. Using your credit union for a mortgage is not a requirement to earn a rebate. Rebate amounts are dependent on the commissions paid to the agent. Patelco may have specific rules on how your rebate will be paid out. Rebate incentives are available in most states; however, are void where prohibited by law or by the lender.

5 Lock and Shop program is available for first (1st) mortgage Jumbo loan purchase transactions only. Must have a home loan application with Patelco to lock in a rate. Patelco will honor your rate up to 30 days from the date it is locked. Once a fully-executed purchase contract is received, the rate will prevail until loan funding.

Rates, terms, conditions, and availability are subject to change or withdrawal at any time and without notice. Nothing herein is or should be interpreted as an offer or commitment to lend. Loans are subject to credit and property approval. Other conditions and restrictions may apply. Hazard insurance may be required. NMLS ID Number is 506373.


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