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Savings Strategies Every First-Time Homebuyer Needs To Know

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If homeownership is on your goal sheet for your future, you’re probably working on your savings. And a big priority is making sure you’ve got a plan in place for things like your closing costs, down payment, and more.

Here are a few strategies that can help speed up that process.

Budget and Track Your Expenses: To start, create a detailed budget that tracks the money you’ve got coming in and the money going out. This’ll give you a better look at your finances as a whole.

Cut Down on Unnecessary Spending: Now that you have your budget sheet done and you know how you’re spending your money, look for any line items that aren’t absolutely essential. If you cut down on those, you can re-allocate that cash toward buying a home. Even the little things can add up. As the National Association of Realtors (NAR) says:

“The majority of first-time buyers did make financial sacrifices to purchase a home. For those who did, the most common sacrifices buyers reported were cutting spending on luxury goods, entertainment, and clothes.”

Automate Your Savings: Once you know how much you want to set aside for your homebuying budget, look for ways to make it easy. If you have to transfer money manually, you may forget to do it. But getting some automatic transfers set up helps drive consistency and removes the temptation to spend it elsewhere. Realtor.com explains:

“If you’re struggling to put enough money away because of the constant temptations to blow your paycheck, consider automating the process. Ask your employer if you can have your paycheck deposited into multiple accounts—if so, instruct it to send a certain percentage of your salary directly into your savings account. Or go through your bank . . .”

Lean into Any Side Hustles You Have: Do you have a gig you do (or have done before) to net some extra cash? Taking on part-time work, freelance jobs, or picking up a side hustle can help give your savings a boost.

Put any Unexpected Cash To Good Use: If you get any sudden windfalls, like a tax refund, bonus, inheritance, or cash gift from family, put it toward your house fund.

By using these strategies and focusing on your savings over time, you can make sure you’re well on the path to having what you need to buy your first home. As Ramsey Solutions says:

“Budgeting shows your money who’s in charge (that’s you). It gives you the power to tell your money where to go instead of having to wonder where it went. It’s how you make any money goals happen—like saving for a down payment.”

Bottom Line

If you need more strategies for getting ready to buy, connect with a local real estate professional.

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How To Determine if You’re Ready To Buy a Home

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If you’re trying to decide if you’re ready to buy a home, there’s probably a lot on your mind. You’re thinking about your finances, today’s mortgage rates and home prices, the limited supply of homes for sale, and more. And, you’re juggling how all of those things will impact the choice you’ll make.

While housing market conditions are definitely a factor in your decision, your own personal situation and your finances matter too. As an article from NerdWallet says:

“Housing market trends give important context. But whether this is a good time to buy a house also depends on your financial situation, life goals and readiness to become a homeowner.”

Instead of trying to time the market, focus on what you can control. Here are a few questions that can give you clarity on whether you’re ready to make your move.

1. Do You Have a Stable Job?

One thing to consider is how stable you feel your employment is. Buying a home is a big purchase, and you’re going to sign a home loan stating you’ll pay that loan back. That’s a big commitment. Knowing you have a reliable job and a steady stream of income coming in can help put your mind at ease when making such a large purchase.

2. Have You Figured Out What You Can Afford?

If you have reliable paychecks coming in, the next thing to figure out is what you can afford. That’ll depend on your spending habits, debt, and more. To be sure you have a good idea of what to expect from a number’s perspective, start by talking to a trusted lender.

They’ll be able to tell you about the pre-approval process and what you’re qualified to borrow, current mortgage rates and your approximate monthly payment, closing costs to anticipate, and other expenses you’ll want to budget for. That way you can make an informed decision about whether you’re ready to buy.

3. Do You Have an Emergency Fund?

Another key factor is whether you’ll have enough cash left over in case of an emergency. While that’s not fun to think about, it’s an important thing to consider. You don’t want to overextend on the house, and then not be able to weather a storm if one comes along. As CNET says:

“You’ll want to have a financial cushion that can cover several months of living expenses, including mortgage payments, in case of unforeseen circumstances, such as job loss or medical emergencies.”

4. How Long Do You Plan To Live There?

It was mentioned above, but buying a home involves some upfront expenses. And while you’ll get that money back (and more) as you gain equity, that process takes time. If you plan to move too soon, you may not recoup your investment. For example, if you’re looking to sell and move again in a year, it might not make sense to buy right now. As Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at the National Association of Realtors (NAR), explains:

“Five years is a good, comfortable mark. If the price of your home appreciates considerably, then even three years would be fine.”

So, think about your future. If you plan to transfer to a new city with the upcoming promotion you’re working toward or you anticipate your loved ones will need you to move closer to take care of them, that’s something to factor in.

5. Above all else, the most important question to answer is: do you have a team of real estate professionals in place? 

If not, finding a trusted local agent and a lender is a good first step. The pros can talk you through your options and help you decide if you’re ready to take the plunge or if you have a few more things to get in order first.

Bottom Line

If you want to have a conversation about all the things you need to consider to determine if you’re ready to buy, connect with a local real estate professional.

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The Price of Perfection: Don’t Wait for the Perfect Home

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In life, patience is a virtue – but in the world of homebuying, waiting too long in hopes of finding the perfect home actually isn’t wise. That’s because the pursuit of perfection comes at a cost. And in this case, that cost may be delaying your dream of homeownership. As Bankrate explains:

“One of the most common first-time homebuyer mistakes is looking for a home that checks each of your boxes. Looking for perfection can narrow your choices and lead you to pass over good, suitable options for starter homes in the hopes that something better will come along.”

The Cost of Holding Out for Perfection

Nothing in life is ever perfect – and that’s true when you search for a home too. Unless you’re building a brand-new home from the ground up, chances are there are going to be some features or finishes you wouldn’t have picked yourself. It may be as simple as paint colors, a light fixture, or the tile in the bathrooms or kitchen. Or even that the backyard isn’t fenced in. It could also be that the home itself is great, but it’s not the ideal location you were hoping for.

But here’s the trade-off you’d be making without even realizing it. In all that time you’d spend searching for the perfect place, you’d overlook a lot of homes that would’ve worked for you. U.S. News explains:

“. . . you may miss opportunities if you enter the process with blinders on and aren’t open-minded . . . Countless potential buyers never buy because of this, and thus miss great investments or never move on to the next chapter of their lives.”

It’s Time To Redefine Perfection

Especially with affordability and inventory where they are today, buying a home that needs some updates, is a few neighborhoods away from your ideal location, or doesn’t have all your desired features can be a smart move. Here’s why.

For starters, these homes are usually more affordable, which is important at a time when some buyers are struggling to find options in their budget.

And they give you a chance to make the space your own or discover a whole new area of town. You may find out you actually love that neighborhood. Or, swapping out a feature here or there after move-in isn’t such a big deal. So, look past the green shag carpet and see the bones of the house. With a little vision and creativity, you can turn a good house into a fantastic home.

How an Agent Helps You Explore Your Options

If you’re open to a home that needs a little elbow grease or is a bit further out, let your agent know. They’ll be happy to show you how this can really open up your pool of homes to pick from. They’ll also help coach you through this process by:

1. Prioritizing Your Must-Haves: Your agent will want to revisit your wish list and separate your non-negotiables from your nice-to-haves. From there, they’ll focus on what’s really most important to you as they come up with a bigger list of options for you to choose from.

2. Coaching You To See the Potential: As you tour these added options, your agent will help you look beyond cosmetic flaws and imagine what the home could be with a little work. Simple updates like a fresh coat of paint or new flooring can make a big difference.

3. Connecting You with Local Pros: And an agent’s support goes one step further. If they know what you’re hoping to change after you move in, they can connect you with local pros who can get the job done. That way it’s less work for you, and you don’t have to worry about tracking down contractors.

Bottom Line

Remember, there is no perfect home. But with expert help and an open mind, an agent can find you the right home – even in today’s market. connect with a local real estate agent to see what’s out there.

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Buying Tips

Homeownership: The Heart of the American Dream

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Everyone’s vision for the future is personal and unique. But for many, common goals include success, freedom, and prosperity — values closely tied to having your own home and the iconic feeling of achieving the American Dream.

A recent survey by Bankrate reveals exactly that: homeownership is still a part of the American Dream. The results show, at 78%, that owning a home tops the list, surpassing other significant milestones such as retirement, having a successful career, and more (see below):No Caption Received

So, why is buying a home important to so many today? One reason is the financial and physical security it provides. Many people see homeownership as a way to reduce stress because owning a home with a fixed-rate mortgage stabilizes what is likely their largest monthly expense.

Another factor is the potential for building wealth. That’s because, over time, homeowners gain equity as they pay down their mortgage and as home prices appreciate, leading to longer-term financial stability.

But what about the responsibilities that come with owning and maintaining a home? According to a survey by Entrata, only 23% of renters feel homeownership is too much work, indicating the majority are open to the commitments and obligations that come with being a homeowner.

What Does This Mean for You?

While buying a home today might seem daunting due to higher mortgage rates and rising home prices, the long-term benefits can make it worthwhile. If you’re considering homeownership, remember that it’s more than just a financial investment — it’s a step toward securing your future.

Bottom Line

Owning a home is a significant and powerful decision that represents a big part of the American Dream. If you’re ready to take this step, start by reaching out to a local real estate agent who can guide you through the process and help you make your homeownership goals a reality.

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The information contained, and the opinions expressed, in these article are not intended to be construed as investment advice. Let's Talk Real Estate and Keeping Current Matters, Inc. do not guarantee or warrant the accuracy or completeness of the information or opinions contained herein. Nothing herein should be construed as investment advice. You should always conduct your own research and due diligence and obtain professional advice before making any investment decision. Let's Talk Real Estate and Keeping Current Matters, Inc. will not be liable for any loss or damage caused by your reliance on the information or opinions contained herein.