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.
An open house can be a life-changing event for a homebuyer. If you plan ahead for an open house, you should have no trouble determining whether a residence matches or exceeds your expectations. And if the answer is "Yes," you can proceed quickly to submit a competitive offer to acquire a house.
What does it take to prep for an open house? Here are three open house preparation tips that every homebuyer needs to know.
1. Understand Your Budget
Before you attend an open house, you should find out how much money is at your disposal. Thus, you may want to meet with banks and credit unions to see if you can get pre-approved for a mortgage. That way, you can kick off your home search with a budget in hand.
Although you know that you have only a certain amount of money to spend on a residence, it may be worthwhile to consider attending open houses for residences with initial asking prices that are above your price range. Because in some instances, a home seller may be willing to accept an offer that falls below his or her initial asking price.
2. Create a List of Questions
A home is one of the biggest purchases that a person can make, and as such, it pays to be diligent. If you craft a list of questions before an open house, you can get immediate responses from the showing agent. Then, you can determine the best course of action.
When it comes to an open house, there is no such thing as a "bad" question. As a homebuyer, it is paramount to get as much information as possible about a residence to determine whether a house is right for you. Therefore, if you create a list of questions in advance, you can improve your chances of getting the most out of an open house.
3. Consult with a Real Estate Agent
If you're uncertain about how to approach an open house, you're not alone. Fortunately, real estate agents are available nationwide who are happy to teach you the ins and outs of the real estate market. By doing so, these housing market professionals will make it easy to take an informed approach to any open house, at any time.
A real estate agent will always keep you up to date about new residences as they become available. Also, if you are interested in homes in a particular city or town, a real estate agent will notify you about open houses in this area. And if you need extra help prepping for an open house, a real estate agent is happy to assist you in any way possible.
Let's not forget about the support that a real estate agent provides throughout the homebuying journey, either. A real estate agent will help you submit an offer on a house, negotiate with a seller's agent on your behalf and much more.
Be diligent as you get ready for an open house – use the aforementioned tips, and you can fully prepare for an open house.
If relocation and house hunting is in the foreseeable future for you and your family, making a list of requirements and preferences will help ensure that you're satisfied with your next home.
Checklists are available from a variety of sources, including real estate agents and The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
While it's nearly impossible to find an affordable property that's a short drive from everywhere and that meets all your requirements, creating a prioritized list will help you clarify your goals and help you get the real estate features that are the most important to you and your family. Having a well organized list of priorities will also make it easier and more practical for your real estate agent to locate properties for sale that are aligned with your needs and preferences.
While the ideal home should be comfortably close to jobs, schools, childcare, and supermarkets, there are other conveniences and necessities that are sometimes overlooked by home buyers. Here are a few additional items to consider:
- Medical and dental offices: Although it's difficult find the ideal house that also happens to be located just a short drive from all your family's medical and dental care providers, it's a goal worth considering when evaluating different properties. Being close to a preferred hospital can also be a desirable feature -- especially if you expect to be looking for top-quality maternity care in the near future.
- Houses of worship: If you and your family attend religious services several times a month, it would definitely make life easier to live a short distance from your favorite church, synagogue, or mosque.
- Automotive services: When you need an oil change, state inspection, AC maintenance, or car repair, it's much more convenient to have it taken care of close to home.
- Transportation: Whether this item ranks high or low on your priority list depends on how often you plan on traveling for work, business, vacations, college, or family visits. For some people, proximity to airports, train stations, bus depots, and major highways can be a major benefit.
- Recreational facilities: For families with active lifestyles, being close to tennis courts, golf courses, fitness clubs, playgrounds, walking trails, and other recreation facilities would be considered a big "plus". For others... not so much.
- Entertainment: Again, it depends on individual lifestyles, but some people enjoy going to the movies, restaurants, concerts, and the theater on a regular basis.
The ultimate goal of a home search is to find a residence that matches or exceeds your expectations. To enjoy a rewarding homebuying experience, you need to prepare accordingly.
Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you reap the benefits of a successful homebuying experience.
1. Narrow Your House Search
Think about where you want to live. By doing so, you can refine your home search and look for houses in your preferred cities and towns.
Also, creating a list of homebuying criteria usually is a good idea. This list can include home must-haves and wants, and ultimately, will help you further narrow your house search.
2. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage
Purchasing a house can be simple, particularly for those who get pre-approved for a mortgage. With a mortgage in hand, you can enter the real estate market with a budget. Then, you can pursue houses that fall within your price range and speed up your search for your dream home.
To get pre-approved for a mortgage, it is important to review all of the mortgage options at your disposal. Meet with banks and credit unions and discuss various mortgage options. This will allow you to learn about the differences between adjustable- and fixed-rate mortgages and find a mortgage that corresponds to your finances.
In addition, don't hesitate to ask mortgage questions when you meet with banks and credit unions. Lenders employ friendly, knowledgeable mortgage specialists, and these professionals will do everything possible to help you make an informed mortgage decision.
3. Work with a Real Estate Agent
A rewarding homebuying experience may be tough to achieve if you decide to pursue a house on your own. Thankfully, real estate agents are available who can provide plenty of guidance along the homebuying journey and ensure you can accomplish your desired results.
If you work with a real estate agent, you can take the guesswork out of purchasing a house. First, a real estate agent will meet with you and learn about you and your homebuying goals. This housing market professional then will craft a homebuying strategy to help you achieve the best-possible results as quickly as possible.
In addition, a real estate agent will keep you up to date about open house events, set up home showings and help you analyze the housing market. If you discover your dream house, a real estate agent will help you put together a competitive offer to purchase this home. Plus, if you have concerns or questions at any point during the homebuying journey, a real estate agent can respond to them.
When it comes to simplifying the homebuying experience, hiring a real estate agent is essential. Because if you have a top-notch real estate agent at your side, you can get the help you need to seamlessly navigate the homebuying journey.
Ready to find your dream house? Use the aforementioned tips, and you can enjoy a rewarding homebuying experience.