Buying your first home is a daunting thought. There are many things to consider when purchasing a home for you and your family. Information is available online, but with so many sources, it may lead to confusion and conflicting advice. That is the reason for explaining mistakes which are typical of first-time home buyers.
MISTAKE NUMBER ONE: Waiting until you have a 20% down payment before you purchase.
There are several low or no down payment mortgage plans available. Government loans (those provided or insured by a government agency) may require only 3.5% down. These include FHA or no down payment at all, such as USDA. For those who qualify, there may even be grant programs which will provide the down payment for you. Yes, these require certain conditions, but are worth pursuing. It’s also best to work with a respected mortgage lender so they can better guide you through the process.
The other compelling reason to purchase sooner is the longer you wait, the more expensive your new home purchase will likely be. According to Zillow, the median price of a home in the US is $228,800, with real estate increasing about 3% annually. So, 3% on $228,800 is over $6,800 a year. Looking at these numbers, you would have to save over $600 each month and that is just to stay even. Price inflation works for you as a homeowner and against you as a potential purchaser.
MISTAKE NUMBER TWO: Listening to the experts may lead you to the wrong decisions.
How is that possible? They want to help you, right? Of course, they do! The experts may be real estate professionals, your parents or online sources and their knowledge may provide generalities that will apply to others, but not specifically to you. For example, you need to buy a four-bedroom home with two and one-half baths, because you need to think about resale. Demographics have changed in the last decade or two, families are smaller, single people purchase homes more frequently than in the past and people move often.
Your needs and preferences are unique to you. Buying in the right school district may not apply to you or working from home might mean commuting is not a factor in your decision. Yes, you should take into consideration the advice from those you respect, but as well intentioned as they may be, their advice may be based on their experiences and prior decisions and not be applicable to your situation.
If I had listened to my dad’s advice – You should have a minimum down payment of 25%, pay no more than 20% of your income for a mortgage payment and buy a home of more than two-thousand square feet – I’d still be renting!
MISTAKE NUMBER THREE: You purchase the wrong home.
That does not make any sense. Why would anyone do that? They would not intentionally, but there are factors to consider in the market today. Going back to the “experts,” they may tell you that you will live in your first home for only five to six years, so buy a townhome or smaller single-family home. Don’t worry if it’s not exactly what you want, your second home will be the one you live in for many years.
In the past, that was generally true, but with mortgage rates at historical lows today, you can afford more than you could years ago. For example, a $200,000 mortgage at 3.5% today is $898 for principle and interest. The same mortgage at 5% is $1,024. That is an increase of $126, which means at the lower interest rate, you have $28,000 more purchasing power. This may give you the opportunity to purchase a home you can stay in for many years, all while saving you time, money and helping you build more equity into your current home.