Our Real Estate Blog
Saving for a down payment on a house can seem like an insurmountable challenge to first-time homebuyers. You don’t have the benefit of equity built from owning previous homes, and most, if not all, of your income could be tied up in other places like paying rent and bills.
If this sounds like you, don’t worry--you’re not alone. The good news is that there are some other things you might try before giving up on saving for a down payment.
In today’s post, we’re going to discuss a few techniques for saving for a down payment that you might not yet have thought of, and talk about how to can start saving sooner rather than later.
1. Know your options
Many first-time buyers aren’t aware of all of the different mortgage types that may be available to them. VA loans, USDA loans, and more are all available to buyers who don’t have a large down payment saved up.
There’s also the common myth that your down payment needs to be at least 20% percent of the cost of the home. However, this number is more like an ideal figure that will allow you to avoid paying private mortgage insurance (PMI).
Before determining how much you need to save, make sure you understand all of your options.
2. Learn the art of budgeting
Most of us use the term “budget” as a vague word that means the amount of money we can spend.
The true point of a budget, however, is to gain a detailed understanding of where your money goes and to develop a plan.
One good method of budgeting is to do what budget experts call, “giving every dollar a job.” This means that you know where each dollar o your paycheck will go.
There are many tools available for you to use when budgeting. You can use a free app like a spreadsheet from Google Sheets, or a service that connects you your bank account like Mint. Mint will also let you set goals (such as saving for a down payment) so you can track your progress.
3. Asking for a raise
Depending on how long you’ve been at your job and your work performance, it might be time to ask your employer for a raise up front. Many employers are more than happy to reward hard work and dedication, but just don’t hand out money if they aren’t asked.
4. Start that side hustle
There are a lot of ways to earn extra money in a service economy. From waiting tables at night to delivering packages for Amazon, and giving lifts in your car for Uber, there are numerous ways to earn some extra cash in the evenings.
Just remember that you want this project to be something that’s enjoyable or interesting, otherwise it’s easy to burn out from overwork.
5. See if you have employee assistance options
Some employers offer housing assistance programs to their employees as a work benefit. If you haven’t flipped through your HR packet in a while, now might be a good time to make sure you’re taking advantage of your options.
As a homebuyer, entering the real estate market with insights into what it takes to find the perfect house is essential.
Becoming an expert homebuyer, however, may seem impossible at times. Lucky for you, we're here to help you gain the knowledge and skills you need to make your homeownership dreams come true.
What does it take to become an expert homebuyer? Here are three tips to help you do just that.
1. Look at Real Estate Market Trends
The housing market ebbs and flows. Therefore, a seller's market today may transform into a buyer's market tomorrow.
Ultimately, the real estate market fluctuates constantly, and you'll want to learn as much as possible about the housing sector to ensure you can map out your homebuying journey accordingly.
In a buyer's market, there are usually more home sellers than buyers. This means homebuyers may be better equipped than ever before to secure a top-notch house at a budget-friendly price.
On the other hand, a seller's market features an abundance of homebuyers and a shortage of sellers. For homebuyers who operate in a seller's market, they may be forced to submit competitive offers on homes quickly, or risk missing out on a dream residence to a rival.
When you study the housing market, don't forget to check out the prices of residences that recently sold. By doing so, you can gain a better understanding of how much you'll likely need to pay to acquire a first-rate house based on the current state of the housing market.
2. Learn How a Mortgage Works
What differentiates a fixed-rate mortgage from an adjustable-rate option? An expert homebuyer will know the ins and outs of assorted mortgage options and select one that corresponds to his or her finances.
To learn about mortgages and how they work, you'll want to meet with credit unions and banks. These lenders can describe the different types of mortgages and the pros and cons associated with them.
Also, an expert homebuyer will get pre-approved for a mortgage. With a mortgage in hand, this homebuyer will be able to stick to a price range as he or she searches for the ideal home.
3. Collaborate with a Real Estate Agent
Let's face it – no homebuyer can afford to make mistakes. Fortunately, you can work with a real estate agent to receive expert guidance as you navigate the homebuying journey.
A real estate agent boasts the skills and know-how needed to streamline the homebuying process. He or she may have many years of housing market experience and is happy to teach you about the opportunities and challenges associated with buying a house.
Furthermore, a real estate agent will help you accelerate the homebuying cycle. He or she can set up home showings, negotiate with home sellers on your behalf and much more. That way, you can focus on what's important – finding a terrific house at an affordable price.
Take advantage of the aforementioned tips, and you can become an expert homebuyer.
Ready to acquire your dream house? Before you embark on a home search, it often helps to establish a homebuying wish list. That way, you can narrow your house search and discover your dream home without delay.
Now, let's take a look at three factors to consider as you craft your homebuying wish list.
1. Home Size
Home sizes vary. As such, you'll want to consider your living situation closely to ensure you can find a house in a size that suits you perfectly.
Remember, a three-bedroom house may be too big for a single person. Much in the same vein, a one-bedroom home is unlikely to meet the needs of a family of five. But if you consider your living situation ahead of time, you can determine what size home to buy.
2. Home Location
Do you want to own a house that is located just minutes from your office in the city? Or, would you prefer a home in a small town? Think about where you want to live, and you can tailor your home search accordingly.
Keep in mind that home prices will vary based on location. Oftentimes, houses in or near major cities are more expensive than similar homes in small towns. At the same time, homes close to top schools or attractions may prove to be more expensive than others.
3. Home Exterior and Interior Features
Consider the home exterior and interior features that you want – you'll be glad you did. If you evaluate home exterior and interior must-haves, you can create priorities as you search for your dream house.
For instance, buying a house that features a central air unit may be a top priority if you plan to relocate to a warm-weather region. On the other hand, you might want to purchase a house that features an in-ground swimming pool, but you can live without this outdoor amenity if necessary.
A homebuying wish list is essential, regardless of where you choose to pursue houses. In addition, if you require extra help as you get ready to enter the housing market, you may want to employ a real estate agent.
With a real estate agent at your side, you can boost your chances of acquiring a top-notch house at a budget-friendly price. A real estate agent will allocate the necessary time and resources to learn about your homebuying goals. Then, this housing market professional can help you streamline your home search.
Furthermore, a real estate agent will provide expert assistance throughout the homebuying journey. He or she will set up home showings, help you submit offers on homes and handle homebuying negotiations. And if you ever have homebuying questions, a real estate agent is happy to respond to them at any time.
Make your dream of purchasing a home come true – consider the aforementioned factors, and you can create a wish list to help you accomplish your homebuying goals.
The homebuying process can be stressful, particularly for those who are purchasing a house for the first time. From the time it takes to find your "dream" home to the final closing, there may be many hurdles that you'll need to overcome to secure your ideal home. As such, it sometimes can be difficult for a first-time homebuyer to maintain a positive outlook during the most challenging times.
Lucky for you, we're here to help you remain calm, cool and collected throughout the entire homebuying cycle.
Now, let's take a look at three tips to help first-time homebuyers maintain a positive outlook at each stage of the homebuying journey:
1. Establish Realistic Expectations
Although first-time homebuyers would like to believe the property buying journey will be quick and seamless, it is important to realize that problems can arise without notice. However, homebuyers who understand the ins and outs of purchasing a house should have no trouble identifying potential issues and minimizing their impact.
For example, a homebuyer who defines his or her ideal residence can narrow a home search accordingly. This homebuyer also will be able to check out a variety of houses based on assorted property buying criteria and boost his or her chances of discovering the perfect residence without delay.
A homebuyer who establishes realistic expectations will be ready for the worst-case scenarios too. And if this homebuyer submits an offer to purchase a home that ultimately gets rejected, he or she will remain confident and be ready to restart the homebuying cycle from stage one.
2. Become an Informed Homebuyer
A first-time homebuyer who learns about the housing market can improve his or her chances of getting the best possible results.
Allocating the necessary time and resources to understand the differences between a buyer's market and a seller's market, for instance, can make a world of difference for any homebuyer, at any time.
Furthermore, an informed homebuyer may be more likely than others to get pre-approved for a mortgage. With a mortgage in hand, this property buyer can set a budget for his or her home search and increase the likelihood of securing a terrific house at an affordable price.
3. Work with a Real Estate Agent
When it comes to purchasing a home for the first time, why should a homebuyer leave anything to chance? Instead, a homebuyer can work with a real estate agent to reduce the risk of potential pitfalls throughout the homebuying cycle.
A real estate agent is happy to respond to a homebuyer's concerns and questions as the property buying journey progresses. This housing market professional will even help a homebuyer maintain a positive outlook, regardless of what happens. That way, a real estate agent can assist a homebuyer through both good times and bad and ensure a property buyer can purchase a first-rate house that matches or exceeds his or her expectations.
Take advantage of these tips, and any first-time homebuyer can keep things positive at each stage of the homebuying cycle.
If you plan to purchase a house in the foreseeable future, it generally is a good idea to plan ahead for all of your potential homebuying costs. That way, you can secure the funds you need to purchase your dream house.
Now, let's take a look at three costs that every homebuyer needs to consider during the property buying journey.
1. Credit Report
A lender likely will request a verified credit report before it provides you with a mortgage. The fee for a credit report usually is minimal, but it is important to note that this fee adds to the overall cost of purchasing a house.
Oftentimes, a homebuyer can get pre-approved for a mortgage and pay a credit report fee prior to conducting a house search. On the other hand, if a buyer wants to secure financing from a lender after he or she discovers the perfect house, the cost of a credit report may be incorporated into this individual's home closing costs.
2. Home Inspection
A property inspection is crucial, as it ensures a property expert can analyze a house and identify any underlying problems with it before a buyer finalizes his or her home purchase. As such, it is paramount to account for home inspection fees to ensure you have the funds available to hire an inspector who can perform an in-depth evaluation of a house.
The cost of a home inspection varies based on the size of a residence. Meanwhile, there is no need to forgo this evaluation. Because if you ignore a home inspection, you risk encountering costly, time-intensive problems after you buy a residence.
3. Pest or Mold Inspection
A pest or mold inspection is not a requirement if you purchase a new house. Conversely, if you purchase an older residence, it typically is beneficial to inspect it for pests and mold prior to finalizing your house purchase.
Pest or mold inspection costs vary based on a home's size and location. And if you feel a home may be susceptible to pests or mold, you should pay the necessary fees to conduct a pest or mold inspection. Otherwise, you could encounter home pests or mold that may cause major problems down the line.
As you prepare to pursue your dream residence, you may want to hire a real estate agent as well. If you have a real estate agent at your side, you can receive comprehensive guidance as you navigate the homebuying journey.
In addition to teaching you about homebuying costs, a real estate agent is happy to educate you about all aspects of the housing market. Plus, a real estate agent will respond to your homebuying queries and help you make informed decisions as you search for your ideal residence.
When it comes to purchasing a house, it helps to budget accordingly. If you consider the aforementioned homebuying costs, you can craft a homebuying budget and speed up your quest to discover your dream house.