Buying a home doesn't have to be confusing!
Buying a home for the first time is intimidating. It's unfamiliar territory. The financial implications for one of the largest purchase of your life is massive. It sounds daunting, we know. But it doesn't have to be. In fact, securing a home loan is faster and easier than ever before! With the variety of mortgage options on the market, you could find a loan customized to fit your specific needs.
There are even some options with low-to-no interest rates that can help kick-start your payments or fund closing and renovation fees. It's important to make sure that you know all of the options available to you, and that buying a home doesn't have to be scary or stressful. Here are five common misconceptions that may be obstructing your path to homeownership
1. It's too expensive
Start by reviewing your financial standing—your current earnings, debt-to-income ratio, and credit score. Factor in what you are currently paying each month for rent and other living expenses. Then, use an online mortgage calculator to help you get an idea of what you can afford. Depending on the price and type of property, you could find a home where your mortgage is comparable to your rent! Best of all, as a homeowner, you'll be building equity and could take advantage of tax breaks.
Other financing options are available if you think you can't afford to buy a home. Consider the potential methods of purchasing property, such as tax credit, grants, and other loans available for low-to-moderate-income home buyers. Taking full advantage of these opportunities will maximize your buying potential.
2. Pre-approval isn't that important
Getting a pre-approval from a trusted, respected lender is a simple but imperative step - particularly in a market when home prices are up and inventory is down. As a buyer, you will need to formally apply for a mortgage, either way, which involves providing your lender with essential information so they can review your credit score and finances. Getting pre-approved before finding a home could make you and your offer stand out and enable you to make a strong offer on the spot.
Most sellers expect buyers to be pre-approved before they make an offer. In a competitive market, you will want to have pre-approval ready to go when you start touring homes. Not only does it make your offer stand out, but it will give you peace of mind you need when you make an offer on a home.
3. You need 20% for a down payment
If you feel you don't have enough saved to buy a home, think again. While making a down payment of 20% or more allows you to avoid private mortgage insurance (PMI), there are still many options for borrowers with smaller down payments. For example, FHA home loans feature less stringent qualification and credit requirements, and down payment options as low as 3.5%.
The national average for down payments is actually right around 10%. Many homebuyers find financing options such as low-interest loans, tax credits, or grants to get them closer to that 20% mark. If you can't afford a 20% down payment but still are still interested in purchasing a home, speaking to a trusted loan officer about your options will provide you with the exact steps you need to take.
4. A 30-year fixed is the only way to go
For buyers who seek a consistent monthly payment and want to settle into a home for the long-term, 30-year fixed-rate loans are an excellent option. However, adjustable-rate mortgages, commonly known as ARMs, provide an opportunity to secure a lower rate and lower monthly payment for a 5-, 7- or 10-year "fixed period." ARMs could be an ideal option for borrowers who don't plan on staying in a home beyond this timeframe.
If you want to build equity in a home quickly, you can get a 15-year fixed-rate loan. The payments will be higher because you're paying the mortgage off in 15 years rather than 30, but the total cost will be less, as you're paying less in interest over time. Hopefully, the value of your home will appreciate (increase). As you make payments, you build equity, which can be used to refinance or purchase another house if you decide to move.
5. Homes in need of renovation aren't worth a look
If you find the perfect home in your ideal neighborhood, don't pass it up just because it needs some work. There are financing solutions to help you customize and create the home of your dreams. Renovation loans are a smart, savvy way to package the renovation costs into your financing. Patience and flexibility may be required, but in the end, you could be on the path to owning a home you love.
Federal, state, and some local governments offer home renovation grants that help fund updates to the property. A grant is a sum of cash that you don't have to pay back. Essentially, it is free money that the government shares to the public to improve local neighborhoods. Talk to your local housing authority to find out about any grants or funds that could contribute to your home renovations. Anyone can apply, and they decide who gets the money on a case-by-case basis. Always be on the lookout for free money!
Another benefit to buying a home that needs renovation is affordability. You can usually negotiate a better deal when the house isn't move-in ready. Not only do you get to customize the house to fit your needs, but you also get a better deal. Don't rule out an unfinished home. If you're willing to put in the work, you will love the results and get a sense of accomplishment in the finished product.
If you are ready to begin your home hunting journey, or need help finding the perfect home, HomeTraq is the #1 real estate shopping tool. Simply find your dream home and set up a time to tour - by video or in-person. There is no obligation, no commitment, and you can be touring your dream home in minutes. Ready? Click the button below!