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Savings Strategies Every First-Time Homebuyer Needs To Know

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.

The Wealth-Building Power of Homeownership [INFOGRAPHIC]

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Some Highlights

  • If you’re trying to decide if buying a home is worth it, consider the long-term benefits, like building equity as home values grow over time.
  • According to the FHFA, home values have increased by 315.7% since 1991.
  • Home equity is one reason owning your own place can really pay off in the long run. When you’re ready, talk with a local real estate professional.

Why a Condo May Be a Great Option for Your First Home

Having a hard time finding a first home that’s right for you and your wallet? Well, here’s a tip – think about condominiums, or condos for short.

They’re usually smaller than single-family homes, but that’s exactly why they can be easier on your budget. According to the latest data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), condos are typically less expensive than single-family homes (see graph below):

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So, if you’re comfortable with a smaller space and want to buy your first home this year, adding condos to your search might be easier on your wallet.

Besides giving you more options for your home search and maybe fitting your budget better, living in a condo has a bunch of other perks, too. According to Rocket Mortgage:

“From community living to walkable urban areas, condos are great options for first-time home buyers and people looking to enjoy homeownership without extensive upkeep.”

Let’s dive into a few of the draws of condos for first-time buyers from Bankrate:

  • They require less maintenance. Condos are great if you want to own your place but don’t want to mow the lawn, shovel snow, or fix the roof. Your real estate agent can help explain any associated fees and details for the condos you’re interested in.
  • They allow you to start building equity. When you buy a condo, you build equity and your net worth as you make your mortgage payments and as your condo’s value goes up over time.
  • They often come with added amenities. Your condo might come with access to amenities like a pool, dog park, or parking. And the best part? You don’t have to take care of any of them.
  • They provide you with a sense of community. Buying a condo means you’ll be living close to other people, which is nice if you enjoy having neighbors around and making friends. Many condo communities hold fun events like barbecues and parties during holidays for everyone to enjoy.

Remember, your first home doesn’t have to be the one you stay in forever. The important thing is to get your foot in the door as a homeowner so you can start to gain home equity. Later on, that equity can help you buy another place if you need something different.

Ultimately, owning and living in a condo is a lifestyle choice. And if it’s one that appeals to you, they could provide the added options you need in today’s market.

Bottom Line

It might be a good idea to think about condos in your home search. If you’re ready to see what’s out there, get in touch with a local real estate agent today.

The Top 2 Reasons To Consider a Newly Built Home

When you’re planning a move, it’s normal to wonder where you’ll end up and what your future home is going to look like. Maybe you’ve got a specific picture of that house in your mind. But unless you came into this process knowing you want to buy a newly built home, you may not have pictured new home construction.

A trusted real estate agent can help walk you through these two reasons you may want to reconsider that.

1. Adding Newly Built Homes Could Give You More Options

There are two types of homes on the market: new and existing. A newly built home refers to a house that was just built or is under construction. An existing home is one a previous homeowner has already lived in. Right now, the inventory of existing homes is tight. But there may be options for you on the new home side of things.

Data from the Census and the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows that newly built homes are a bigger part of today’s housing inventory than the norm (see graph below):

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From 1983 to 2019 (the last normal year in the market), newly built homes made up only 13% of the total inventory of homes for sale. But today that number has climbed to over 33%.

Rest assured, after over a decade of underbuilding, builders aren’t overdoing it today. Even with an increase in new construction today, there’s still a significant housing shortage overall. But for you, the uptick in new builds can be a game changer because it gives you more options for your search.

2. Newly Built Homes May Be More Affordable Than You’d Think

You may still be wondering if a new build could really be an option for you. If you’ve previously written them off because you thought they would be out of your budget, consider this. The price gap between a newly built home and an existing house is shrinking. Here’s why.

Builders are going to build what’s in demand. And they know people need more options right now, especially ones that are smaller and potentially more affordable. So, they’re focusing on building smaller homes at lower price points. The graph below shows the price difference between new and existing homes is shrinking as that happens:

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As LendingTree explains:

In the past, newly built homes have been much more expensive than existing homes — but that gap has been getting smaller recently. In some places today, you may find that the cost to build versus buy is roughly the same.”

And an article from CNBC says:

“While new builds are still sold for slightly more than existing homes, the price gap has significantly narrowed . . .”

Not to mention, some builders are even offering price cuts and mortgage rate buy-downs right now to sweeten the deal. Today there are many reasons new builds may be worth considering. Other buyers sure seem to think so. As Freddie Mac says:

“As the supply of existing homes for sale remains low and home prices continue to rise, more buyers are choosing to purchase new homes than in previous years.”

Just know that buying a newly built home isn’t the same as buying an existing one. Builder contracts have different fine print. So, partner with a local agent who knows the market, builder reputations, and what to look for in those contracts so you have an expert on your side to help you explore this option.

Bottom Line

If you want to find out what builders are doing in your area, connect with a real estate agent. And if you’re willing to cast a wider net to open up your options even more, that agent can talk to you about broadening your search to include other towns nearby.

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