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.
When it comes to purchasing a home, there is no need to settle for an "average" homebuying experience. Instead, there are many things that you can do to become an expert homebuyer, i.e. someone who can discover a first-rate house at a budget-friendly price.
Now, let's take a look at three ways that a "typical" homebuyer can become an extraordinary one:
1. Evaluate the Housing Market Closely
The housing market can be complicated, particularly for those who are searching for a house for the first time. Fortunately, an informed homebuyer will be able to identify real estate market trends and plan accordingly.
For example, if there is an abundance of houses available and a shortage of homebuyers, you likely are operating in a buyer's market. In this market, you should have no trouble locating a top-notch house at a price that corresponds to your budget.
On the other hand, a real estate market that features a limited number of outstanding houses commonly favors property sellers. Therefore, you'll need to proceed cautiously if you want to acquire a high-end house at an affordable price.
Of course, you should always check out a wide range of houses in cities and towns where you'd like to live. This will enable you to explore many houses and improve your chances of finding a residence that matches or exceeds your expectations.
2. Get Your Finances in Order
Although you'd like to buy a home in the near future, you still need to figure out how you'll pay for it. Lucky for you, many credit unions and banks are available that can make it easy for you to get pre-approved for a mortgage.
Lenders are happy to meet with you at your convenience. These financial institutions can outline a variety of mortgage options and help you make an informed mortgage decision.
With a mortgage in hand, you can enter the real estate market with clear-cut financial expectations. This may help you avoid the temptation to overspend on a home. Plus, you'll be better equipped than other property buyers to narrow your home search, thereby accelerating the process of acquiring your ideal house.
3. Work with a Real Estate Agent
A real estate agent is a housing market professional. As such, he or she can help you simplify the process of going from homebuyer to homeowner.
For homebuyers, hiring a real estate agent is essential. This housing market professional can keep you up to date about new properties as they become available, set up home showings, submit home offers on your behalf and much more.
Perhaps best of all, a real estate agent is available to respond to your homebuying concerns and queries at any time. He or she will even provide homebuying recommendations to ensure you can navigate the property buying cycle quickly and effortlessly.
Ready to become an expert homebuyer? Use the aforementioned tips, and you can streamline the process of acquiring a terrific home that you can enjoy for years to come.
Buying a home is one of the most expensive undertakings that you’ll ever have in your lifetime. You probably have spent months upon months saving for a downpayment in order to make your home purchase. The problem is that after they believe their savings are complete, many buyers discover unexpected costs that go along with buying a home, making the entire process even more stressful. You should be prepared for many different kinds of costs that go beyond the sticker price of a home. Below, many of those surprising costs are laid out in detail.
Closing costs can be anywhere from 2-7% of the purchase price of a home. Closing costs cover quite a bit including:
- Inspection fees
- Title insurance
- Property taxes
- Mortgage insurance
- Underwriting fees
- Recording fees
- Loan origination fees
Depending upon the type of loan you get or your specific circumstances, your closing costs could be even more. Keep in mind that you won’t find out your specific closing cost amounts until the purchase of the home is well underway. You can talk to your realtor and lender ahead of time to be prepared for your own situation.
Closing costs are also negotiable, so don’t forget to ask questions. Certain administrative fees, for example, are often unnecessary and can be waived.
If you have a low appraisal on your home, you may need even more cash on hand. In order to meet loan and home value requirements, lenders won’t approve a loan for an amount that’s higher than the home is appraised for. In this case, if you still want the home, you’ll be left to come up with the difference in cash. Otherwise, you could be forced to walk away from the deal and lose some money in the process. This is one of those home purchase emergencies that you should simply be aware of. It can be an emotional experience to get a low appraisal on a home, but remember that there are sensible ways to deal with this dilemma.
Many buyers forget in the excitement of buying a home just how much it will cost to move. Whether you hire a moving company or do it yourself, moving can be expensive. You’ll need a truck, packing supplies and a way to pay (or simply thank) the people who help you to move.
The Things You Need For Your Home
Your home won’t come with everything that you need. You may have to buy a refrigerator, have some repairs done, or simply get furnishings for the home. Don’t strap your budget so thin that you won’t be able to buy a sofa until six months after moving into the home.
The biggest area of your life that you need to understand before you buy a house is your own finances. Before you know what kind of house you can buy, you’ll need to understand your own buying power. While things like square footage, how many bedrooms you need, and finding the right neighborhood are important, you can’t go very far without some type of financing. While understanding how much you can spend on a property is one of the more serious parts of buying a home, it’s something that you’ll want to do. Knowing what you can spend on a home is a step to helping you land a home you love. If you understand your own numbers, you’ll know the chances that you have of an offer being accepted on a place you love.
The Elements Of Your Buying Power
Your Credit Score
This little three digit number has a lot of meaning behind it. This is the most basic piece of information that lenders use to determine your loan worthiness. The factors that influence your credit score include:
- Payment history
- How much you owe
- Length of your credit history
- Mix of credit accounts
- How much new credit you have opened
A low credit score is somewhere under 620. Having a score this low doesn't necessarily mean that you’ll be denied for a loan, but the type and amount of the loan you’re offered can be impacted. You’ll also face higher interest rates because of a low credit score. This means your mortgage could be considerably more expensive than if you had a higher credit score.
The 20 percent down as a rule of thumb actually offers many benefits to your buying power. This means that you’ll need 20% down of the purchase price of the home in cash. If you put this amount of money (or even more) down on a home, it eliminates the need for you to have to buy PMI (Private Mortgage Insurance). You’ll even be able to negotiate a lower interest rate. A large down payment may be especially helpful in competitive markets where there is a lot of buyer competition.
How Your Financial Picture Appears
Your assets and your debt-to-income ratio are also important factors in your financial picture that you present to the lender. Basically, all of these numbers let both the lender and the seller see how committed you are to buying a home. It is one of the biggest financial undertakings of your entire life. If you can’t show financial responsibility, then it may be a bit difficult for lenders to see that you’ll actually pay your loan back in a timely manner.
The better all of your financial numbers are, the more buying power that you’ll have. If your numbers are good, you’ll be able to afford more house. While it may not be the most exciting thing to look over all of your financial numbers, it’s a vital step in the process of your journey to home ownership.
A home inspection may prove to be exceedingly valuable, particularly for a homebuyer who is on the fence about whether to purchase a particular house. In fact, a house inspection may raise a number of questions that a buyer will need to consider to make an informed decision about whether to proceed with a home purchase.
Some of the key questions that a homebuyer needs to consider after a house inspection include:
1. What do the inspection results reveal about the overall condition of a house?
A home inspection represents a learning opportunity for a buyer. After the evaluation is finished, a buyer will receive a report that outlines a home inspector's findings. This report usually is available within 24 to 48 hours of an inspection and can make a world of difference to any buyer, at any time.
As a homebuyer, it is essential to review the results of a home inspection closely. That way, you can learn about any underlying issues with a home and map out the best course of action.
If you find that a home has a variety of problems, you may want to ask a seller to complete myriad house repairs before you finalize your home purchase. Or, if you are satisfied with a home after an inspection, you may want to continue with your house purchase.
Keep in mind that you can always walk away from a home sale after an inspection too. In this scenario, you can simply reenter the housing market and continue your search for your dream residence.
2. After reviewing the home inspection results, am I comfortable with a house?
Oftentimes, it helps to consider the prices of possible home repairs after you complete an inspection. If you analyze these potential costs and find they exceed your budget, you should plan accordingly.
Home repairs sometimes can be expensive and time-consuming. As such, if you are uncomfortable completing a broad assortment of home repairs on your own, you'll want to account for these repairs as you decide how to proceed with a house following an inspection.
3. Is a house a viable long-term investment?
The decision to purchase a home is a life-changing choice. Therefore, you should consider the results of a home inspection to ensure you can maximize the value of this potential long-term investment.
Remember, a home inspection gives you an opportunity to assess any structural issues with a house prior to finalizing a house purchase. If you have any concerns about a possible home purchase following an inspection, you should address these concerns before you complete your transaction.
When it comes to conducting a home inspection and reviewing the assessment results, it generally is a good idea to work with a real estate agent. This housing market professional can help you find an expert home inspector to analyze a residence both inside and out. Plus, a real estate agent will offer tips about what to do following an inspection and ensure you can achieve the best-possible results throughout the homebuying journey.