According to a recent Harris Poll survey, 8 in 10 Americans say buying a home is a priority, and 28 million Americans actually plan to buy within the next 12 months. Homeownership provides many financial and nonfinancial benefits, so that interest is understandable.
However, it’s unlikely all 28 million Americans will accomplish that goal in the coming year. Experts project a total of around five million homes will be sold in 2023. Why is there such a big difference? It’s partly because there can be challenges to buying a home.
In the same survey, when asked, “Which of the following are preventing you from pursuing homeownership at this time?”:
- 34% answered, “I don’t have enough saved for a down payment”
- 30% answered, “My credit score”
If you’re aiming to buy a home, here’s what you need to know to accomplish that goal.
Save for Your Down Payment
Your down payment is a big chunk of what you pay up front for your home. For most home purchases, buyers put down some amount of cash up front (a down payment) and then take out a loan (a mortgage) to pay for the rest.
It’s a longstanding myth that you need to pay 20% of the purchase price for your down payment. In reality, 20% down isn’t always required. In fact, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), today’s median down payment is 14% for the average buyer and just 6% for a first-time buyer.
Regardless of how much money you can save for your down payment, know there’s help available. A local lender can show you options to help you get closer to your down payment goal. Plus, there are even loan types, like FHA loans, with down payments as low as 3.5% for some buyers, as well as options like VA loans and USDA loans with no down payment requirements for qualified applicants.
Beyond assistance programs and different loan types, here are a few other tips to help you as you save for your down payment:
- Remember to factor in closing costs. In addition to your down payment, closing costs are usually 2-5% of the home’s purchase price.
- Maintain your savings. Your down payment shouldn’t deplete all your savings. It’s important to still have some money set aside for homeownership expenses after you move in.
- Explore your options and lean on your trusted advisor for expert guidance. Do your research, ask questions, and look into the resources available for buyers like you.
Improve Your Credit Score
Your credit score is a number that indicates how financially reliable you are to lenders. A higher credit score usually means you’ll be able to borrow more money at a better interest rate. If your credit score is preventing you from getting an affordable mortgage, there are steps you can take to improve it. Here are two:
- Pay your bills on time. When you pay your bills on time, your credit score improves. When you’re late, it takes a hit. One way to make paying your bills on time easier? Set up automatic payments when and where you can.
- Mix it up. From auto loans, to credit cards, to mortgages – there are several different types of credit. And having a mix of them improves your credit score.
If you want to purchase a home this year, let’s connect so we can start preparing.
If you’re a young adult, you may be thinking about your goals and priorities for the months and years ahead. And if homeownership ranks high on your goal sheet, you’re in good company. Many of your peers are also pursuing their dream of owning a home. The 2022 Millennial & Gen Z Borrower Sentiment Report from Maxwell says:
“Many young adults have demonstrated their resolve to embark on the journey toward homeownership soon. More than half of millennials and Gen Zs plan to apply for a mortgage sometime within the next year.”
Let’s take a look at why homeownership makes the top of so many young buyers’ to-do list and what you need to consider to achieve your goals if you’re one of them.
Top Motivators To Buy a Home
Before you start the homebuying process, it’s helpful to know why homeownership is so important to you. The survey mentioned above sheds light on some of the top reasons why younger generations are looking to buy a home. It finds:
- 95% believe the cost of renting is too high
- 35% think owing a home is an important wealth building tool
- 16% seek the sense of security owning a home provides
- 37% plan to use it as an investment property
No matter which of these resonates the most with you, know there are many financial and non-financial reasons why you may want to buy a home. While your top motivator may be different than that of your friends, they’re all equally valid and worthwhile.
Key Obstacles and How To Overcome Them
Whether your homeownership goals come from the heart or are driven by financial aspirations (or both), it can still be hard to know where to start when you’re looking to buy a home. From understanding the homebuying process, to getting pre-approved, and exploring down payment options, it’s a lot to wrap your head around.
The same Maxwell survey also reveals key challenges for potential buyers. Thankfully, the knowledge and guidance of a trusted real estate professional can help you overcome both. Here’s a look at two of the hurdles potential homebuyers say they face:
1. The Mortgage Process Can Be Intimidating
In the Maxwell study, 33.37% said one of their obstacles was that the mortgage process is confusing or difficult to understand.
An article by OwnUp helps explain why the mortgage process is so challenging for buyers:
“There is a general lack of knowledge about home financing. Mortgages are a complicated topic with no one-size-fits-all answer. It’s difficult to understand the space, let alone determine what the right course of action is based on your unique financial picture.”
While you may be tempted to do a quick search online to find instant answers to your questions, it may not get you the information you need to understand the full picture. Especially when it comes to financial advice, you want to lean on a true expert. Having trusted professionals on your side can help you to learn what it takes to achieve your dream of homeownership. Not to mention, an expert can give you advice specific to your situation, not generic advice like you’ll find online.
2. It’s Hard To Know How Much You Need To Save
In the Maxwell study, 45.75% believe they don’t have enough saved to cover their down payment or closing cost expenses.
What you may not realize is that, today, there’s a growing number of down payment assistance programs available nationwide to help relieve this pressure. A report from Down Payment Resource says:
“Our Q3 2022 HPI report revealed a 1.6% uptick in the number of homebuyer assistance programs available to help people finance homes, raising the number of programs to 2,309, a net increase of 36 over the previous quarter.”
Additionally, as the housing market cools, buyers are regaining some negotiation power and more sellers are willing to work with buyers to help with closing costs. Understanding what’s out there and the options available may help you achieve your dream of homeownership faster than you thought possible.
If you’re serious about becoming a homeowner, know it may be more in reach than you think. Lean on trusted professionals to help you overcome challenges and prioritize your next steps.
If you’re planning to buy a home this year, one of the first steps on your journey is getting pre-approved. Especially in today’s market when mortgage rates are higher than they were just a few months ago, getting a mortgage pre-approval can be a game changer. Here’s why.
What Is Pre-Approval?
To better understand why pre-approval is key, it’s important to know what pre-approval is. The Mortgage Reports explains it like this:
“When you’re ready to take the leap into homeownership, your first step is mortgage preapproval. . . . A mortgage preapproval is when a lender determines you’re qualified for a home loan. Your preapproval letter shows the maximum loan amount you’re approved for (your home buying budget), as well as the specific interest rate and loan term you can expect.”
As part of the pre-approval process, a lender will look at your finances to determine what they’d be willing to loan you. From there, your lender will give you a pre-approval letter to help you understand your true price range and how much money you can borrow. That can make it easier when you set out to search for homes because you’ll know your overall numbers. And with mortgage rates rising and impacting affordability, a solid understanding of your numbers is even more important.
Pre-Approval Can Signal You’re a Serious Buyer
Another added benefit is that pre-approval lets the seller know you’re qualified to buy their house. A recent article from realtor.com notes:
“. . . getting pre-approved can actually improve your chances of falling into the sellers’ good graces, and you’ll want to get it done as early as you possibly can in the home-buying process.”
Even though bidding wars are easing this year as the market shifts, preapproval is still an important part of making a strong offer. It can help a seller feel more confident because it shows you’re serious about their home and that you’re a qualified buyer.
Getting pre-approved for a mortgage is critical. It helps you better understand what you can borrow and shows sellers you’re serious about purchasing their home. Connect with a local real estate professional and a trusted lender so you have the tools you need to succeed as a homebuyer in today’s market.
With higher mortgage rates, you might be wondering if now’s the best time to buy a home. While the financial aspects are important to consider, there are also powerful non-financial reasons it may make sense to make a move. Here are just a few of the benefits that come with homeownership.
Homeowners Can Make Their Home Truly Their Own
Owning your home gives you a significant sense of accomplishment because it’s a space you can customize to your heart’s desire. That can bring you added happiness.
In fact, a report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows making updates or remodeling your home can help you feel more at ease and comfortable in your living space. NAR measures this with a Joy Score that indicates how much happiness specific home upgrades bring. According to NAR:
“There were numerous interior projects that received a perfect Joy Score of 10: paint entire interior of home, paint one room of home, add a new home office, hardwood flooring refinish, new wood flooring, closet renovation, insulation upgrade, and attic conversion to living area.”
And as a homeowner, unless there are specific homeowner’s association requirements, you typically won’t have to worry about the changes you can and can’t make.
If you rent, you may not have the same freedom. And if you do make changes as a renter, there’s a good chance you’ll need to revert them back at the end of your lease based on your rental agreement. That can add additional costs when you move out.
The Responsibilities of Homeownership Give You a Greater Sense of Achievement
There’s no denying taking care of your home is a large responsibility, but it’s one you’ll take pride in as a homeowner. Freddie Mac explains:
“As the homeowner, you have the freedom to adopt a pet, paint the walls any color you choose, renovate your kitchen, and more. . . . Of course, along with the freedoms of homeownership come responsibilities, such as making your monthly mortgage payments on time and maintaining your home. But as the property owner, you’ll be caring for your own investment.”
You’re not taking care of a living space that belongs to someone else. The space is yours. As an added benefit, you may get a return on investment for any upgrades or repairs you make.
Homeownership Can Lead to Greater Community Engagement
That sense of ownership and your feelings of responsibility can even extend beyond the walls of your home. Your home also gives you a stake in your community. Because the average homeowner stays in their home for longer than just a few years, that can lead to having a stronger connection to your local area. NAR notes how that can benefit you:
“Living in one place for a longer amount of time creates an obvious sense of community pride, which may lead to more investment in said community.”
If you’re looking to put down roots, homeownership can help fuel a sense of connection to the area and those around you.
If you’re planning to buy a home this year, there are incredible benefits waiting for you at the end of your journey, including the ability to customize your home, the sense of achievement homeownership brings, and a greater connection to your community. Let’s connect to discuss everything homeownership has to offer.
- If you’re trying to buy your first home in today’s housing market, you’ll want to know what you can do as mortgage rates rise and inventory stays low overall.
- Connect with a lender to get pre-approved, prioritize your wish list, consider condos, and expand your search radius.
- Your first home is out there. Let’s connect to explore your options and what other first-time buyers are doing to find their homes.
As you set out to buy a home, saving for a down payment is likely top of mind. But you may still have questions about the process, including how much to save and where to start.
If that sounds like you, your down payment could be more in reach than you originally thought. Here’s why.
The 20% Down Payment Myth
If you believe you have to put 20% down on a home, you may have based your goal on a common misconception. Freddie Mac explains:
“. . . nearly a third of prospective homebuyers think they need a down payment of 20% or more to buy a home. This myth remains one of the largest perceived barriers to achieving homeownership.”
Unless it’s specified by your loan type or lender, it’s typically not required to put 20% down. According to the latest Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the median down payment hasn’t been over 20% since 2005. There are even loan types, like FHA loans, with down payments as low as 3.5%, as well as options like VA loans and USDA loans with no down payment requirements for qualified applicants.
This is good news for you because it means you could be closer to your homebuying dream than you realize. For more information, turn to a trusted lender.
Down Payment Assistance Programs Can Be a Game Changer
A professional will be able to show you other options that could help you get closer to your down payment goal. According to latest Homeownership Program Index from downpaymentresource.com, there are over 2,000 homebuyer assistance programs in the U.S., and the majority are intended to help with down payments.
A recent article explains why programs like these are helpful:
“These resources can immediately build your home buying power and help you take action sooner than you thought possible.”
And if you’re wondering if you have to be a first-time buyer to qualify for these programs, that’s not always the case. According to an article from downpaymentresource.com:
“It is a common misconception that homebuyer assistance is only available to first-time homebuyers, however, 38% of homebuyer assistance programs in Q1 2022 did not have a first-time homebuyer requirement.”
There are also location and profession-based programs you could qualify for as well.
Saving for your down payment is an important first step on your homebuying journey. Let’s connect today and make sure you have a trusted lender to help explore your options.
- When you head out to buy a home, there are a number of key milestones you’ll encounter along the way.
- The process includes everything from building your team and understanding your finances to going house hunting, making an offer, and more.
- Your journey starts here. Let’s connect so you have expert guidance each step of the way.