Buyer Resources

Frequently Asked Questions

Whether you're a first-timer or an experienced investor, you may have a few questions about buying a home in the Greater Pittsburgh area. If you need some help navigating today's ever-changing market, we'd be happy to offer our expertise! Here are the answers to some of our most frequently asked buyer questions.

Answering Your Most-Asked Home-Buying Questions

Q. Where should I begin?

A. Believe it or not, you've already started the home-buying process! Educating yourself through online articles, books, and videos is the easiest way to get a head start on your search. Before you begin touring listings, here are a few things you should do during this information-gathering stage:

  • Get familiar with your finances
  • Research potential neighborhoods
  • Cut down your debt
  • Save up for a down payment

You should also spend some time tracking down a reputable agent in your area. Even if you aren't quite ready to buy, they'll be able to answer any questions and provide plenty of local knowledge. 

Q. How do I know which loan is right for me?

A. Unless you're paying for your home in cash, you'll need to take out a mortgage to cover the rest of your purchase. There are dozens of different types of mortgages available to today's buyers, which means you should take some time to research all of your options. You might have more than you expect!

The type of loan that's best for you depends on several factors. You should consider:

  • Interest rates (fixed or adjustable, as well as the percentage)
  • The type of loan (conventional, FHA, VA, USDA, etc.)
  • How much money you have saved for a down payment
  • Your credit score
  • Down payment/loan assistance programs

After you've narrowed down your options, it's time to get preapproved. Being preapproved for a mortgage means you've been cleared to borrow a specific amount of money at a set interest rate by a lender. In fact, many sellers or agents may not work with you unless you have a preapproval letter!

Q. Why should I use an agent?

A. Some buyers believe that working with an agent is an unnecessary expense—but that couldn't be further from the truth. A real estate agent does quite a bit of work behind the scenes, from taking you on private tours to representing you at the negotiation table. Agents can also help you understand the complicated contracts and paperwork that come with buying a home. Additional advantages of using an agent include:

  • Knowing the ins and outs of the Greater Pittsburgh market
  • A local perspective on our area's unique neighborhoods
  • Professional referrals to service providers
  • Having someone to answer your questions during every step of the transaction

Q. What should I look for in my next home?

A. The short answer is...it depends! Every buyer is different, so you may want to sit down and make a detailed list of your wants and needs before touring any listings. You'll want to consider details like the size of a home, its location, square footage, or a specific number of bedrooms or bathrooms. Here are some other factors to keep in mind as you begin your search:

  • Price
  • Condition
  • What's around
  • Local schools
  • Commute

Q. Does Pittsburgh have any programs to help buyers?

A. Even if you don't have enough saved for a down payment, homeownership could actually be within your reach! Let's take a look at a few local and state programs available for Pittsburgh buyers.

  • Single-Family Mortgage Revenue Bond Program: Low interest, 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages offered for first-time buyers by the Allegheny County government. Available to all areas except the City of Pittsburgh.
  • URA Loans: Offered through the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh for city buyers.
  • PHFA Loan: A type of low-interest loan from the PA Housing Finance Agency that's compatible with conventional, FHA, VA, or RD loans. Possible down payment and closing cost assistance are also available.

Q. What will I pay upfront for my home?

A. Here's what most buyers should expect to pay before getting the keys to their new home:

  • Earnest money: You pay this security deposit when you submit your offer to prove to the seller that you're serious. After your offer is accepted, it is applied to your down payment or closing costs.
  • Down payment: This is the amount of cash you have on hand to pay for a portion of the home. Most buyers put around 20% down, but you may be able to put as little as 0% down with the right loan.
  • Closing costs: These are typically low for buyers and represent the fees for paperwork and lender charges.

Q. What other costs will I pay?

A. As you budget for your new home, you'll want to include a few more smaller expenses into your monthly budget.

  • Utilities, HOA or condo fees, and property taxes will be lumped into your mortgage payment.
  • Ask your agent about any other fees associated with your neighborhood.

I Still Have Questions!

Don't worry—we're here to help! If you don't see your question answered here, feel free to reach out to the Century 21 Frontier team via phone, text, or email. We look forward to helping you find the home of your dreams in the Greater Pittsburgh area!