First-time homebuyers have concerns

DEAR HARRY: We got married last September. We are living in a rented apartment, but we hope to buy a home in about a year. The problem is that neither of us has any experience in the financial world. Our savings for the house are in bank CDs that mature within six months. We are saving all of my wife's take-home pay and we're going to start to look. But how high can we go? How much should we limit our mortgage payments? What kind of mortgage do we go for? How will this affect our need for life insurance and disability-income insurance? Where can we get answers?

WHAT HARRY SAYS: You have to be very careful. Banks have their own interests in the forefront, not yours, despite what their ads say. The best way to get up to snuff on this is through public organizations. The Philadelphia Housing Authority has an agreement with a large bank to educate the public on just these areas of need. There will be workshops and personal help, as well. PHA's Homeownership Division also conducts workshops for first-time homebuyers about credit, financial planning, affordability and prequalification for a mortgage. Don't buy at the upper limit of what you can afford. Always live a little below your means.


Email Harry Gross at, or write to him at Daily News, 801 Market St., Philadelphia, Pa. 19107. Harry urges all his readers to give blood. Contact the American Red Cross at 800-Red Cross.