How to Prepare to Buy A Home in 2021

Man sitting at desk smiling at laptop computer screen

So you want to buy a home. But how do you prepare for the crazy competitive seller’s market we’re currently in? And what is a seller’s market, anyway? A seller’s market refers to when the real estate market has more buyers than sellers. So how can you prepare for this market to make sure you have an edge over your competition?

Get to know your finances. 

It’s important to know where you stand with your finances. While there are many aspects of your finances you should be aware of, we’re going to focus on three components: Credit Score, DTI, and savings.

Credit Score

Your credit score is important. Mortgage companies use it to help determine how much it will cost to borrow money for your home. Sometimes a few points on your credit score can impact your monthly mortgage payments, so you want to make sure you’re credit is in tip-top shape before you apply for your mortgage.

For example, most lenders use the FICO credit score. If you’re at 800 or higher, you’re considered to have exceptional credit, while 579 or lower is considered poor credit. There are plenty of ways you can work on improving your credit score prior to applying for your mortgage. Check out this blog for more: https://www.bankrate.com/mortgages/how-your-credit-score-affects-your-mortgage-rate/.

DTI Ratio

You also want to familiarize yourself with what your estimated DTI is. What is DTI? It stands for debt to income ratio. It’s another factor that mortgage lenders use to determine your rates. To calculate a DTI estimate: (Monthly debt/current monthly gross income) X 100. You can also find plenty of DTI calculators if math isn’t your favorite subject.

A DTI of 20% or less is what the Federal Reserve considers a low DTI. A DTI of 40% or more is considered high and could be signs of the borrower being someone who has signs of financial stress.

Savings

How much cash you have saved up for your home is important. Transaction costs can include money for your earnest money deposit, money for your down payment, and money for closing costs. Outside of the transaction, you’ll also need to consider things like moving costs (storage space rentals, boxes, tape, truck rentals, moving companies, etc.). It’s important to be aware of these costs and how much money you have for them before you apply for your mortgage.

Gather paperwork ahead of time.

You’ll want to gather your paperwork before you start your home search. This helps you from scrambling last minute to find something important that could delay closing. Financing issues account for 37% of delays to the closing table (according to NAR). To avoid any delays in getting your dream home, make sure you have all these documents available.

Important documents include: Pay stubs, W2s, 1099s, bank statements, gift letters (if applicable), address/rent history for the past 2 years, employment history, proof of any other income, Child support/alimony, debts like car loans, current home mortgage, credit cards, student loans info, non-liquid asset info like life insurance, debts, and information on stocks & bonds.

Ask questions and get answers.

Man and woman in cafe looking at computer screen together.

When you’re looking for a real estate agent, be sure to ask questions. Your agent is your partner and home buying resource throughout this home buying experience, so you’ll want to make sure they are a good fit.

Ask agents about their communication preferences, familiarity with your area, and how long they’ve been in the industry. Your agent should be able to have a dialogue with you to make sure that you both have the same expectations.

Do a little detective work.

Your agent can be a great resource, but you should always do a bit of research on your own to determine what it is you want in your future home. Ask yourself if you’re looking for your “starter home” or if you’re ready to find your “forever home.”  Look at neighborhoods and what style of home you’re interested in. Decide what’s important to you in a new home, whether it be your morning commute to work or proximity to nearby amenities.

It’s also important to determine what you want vs. what you need in your future home. What features do you absolutely need to have in order to live your day-to-day life, and what features would be nice to have, but not a necessity? Check out our blog on wants vs. needs to determine what your list looks like: Wants Vs. Needs

Make sure you get pre-qualified for your mortgage.

Pre-approval in today’s market is not only a suggestion, it’s often a requirement. Pre-qualification is important for all potential buyers. You can even check out HUNT Mortgage’s Pre-Purchase Commitment program, which is a great way to show a seller you’re serious about your offer. It provides a fully underwritten commitment, subject only to collateral conditions and to reassure sellers, HUNT Mortgage backs its commitment with a $1,000 guarantee*. If a buyer does not close on a transaction due to the buyer’s mortgage application failing, we will pay the seller $1,000. The guarantee distinguishes HUNT customers from other buyers a seller may be considering.

Buying a home can be intimidating, especially when you’re a buyer in a seller’s market. However, with the correct preparation and agent, you can make the entire experience less stressful, and even enjoyable. While it is a red-hot market, there’s still plenty of opportunities for you to find your perfect home.


Disclaimer: *The guaranty is null and void if:  a) The property is not deemed acceptable collateral for the loan due to value and or condition; b) The buyer or seller willfully cancels the transaction; c) The buyer voluntarily terminates employment and or voluntarily divests assets prior to closing; d) The buyer takes out new credit after the Pre-Purchase Commitment is issued; e) The seller is unable to deliver clear acceptable title;  f) Guaranty is only on owner occupied single family transactions; g) The transaction does not close due to a contract contingency not being met other than the mortgage financing; h) Pre-Purchase Commitment was issued with maximum specific sale price and taxes, guaranty is void if either of these are exceeded; i) The contract closing is dated past the expiration of the Pre-Purchase Commitment. Guaranty is only on Pre-Purchase Commitments issued by HUNT Mortgage


How to Find a Property for Sale in 2021

Brick house with trees and a real estate sign in the front yard

We all know the real estate market in 2021 is competitive. It seems like every time you find a great property for sale, it’s off the market in a day or two. So what’s happening with the real estate market and how can you, as a buyer, find your home?

The Real Estate Market in 2021

According to the NYSAR (New York State Association of Realtors), the number of properties available has been dwindling over the past 17 months. April 2020 had 49,195 properties on the market compared to April 2021, which only had 28,751, a 22.2% decrease year over year. The cost of homes is increasing, too, with the average price up 42.3% from 2020 to a median price of $370,000.

…But Mortgage Rates are still Near Historic Lows

While prices rise and competition is high, there are some positive things happening in the housing market. Mortgage rates, while rising slowly, are still near historically low rates. This is good for buyers who are in the market looking to buy. For more information on APR or mortgages, be sure to visit HUNTMortgage.com.

How to Find a Property for Sale

  1. Use a real estate agent. Your agent is an invaluable resource who is aware of the market conditions. Working with an agent to buy your home has a ton of benefits.
  2. Understand your wants vs. needs. This will help you determine what you’re looking for in a home and help you rule out properties that aren’t suited to you. To get tips on how to determine your home wants vs. needs, be sure to check out our blog.
  3. Get Pre-Approved. Now, more than ever, pre-approval is important. Attaching a pre-approval to your offer shows the seller you’re serious. And if you’re looking to get an edge over the competition, be sure to check out HUNT Mortgage’s Pre-Purchase Commitment.
  4. Be Decisive. Homes that come on the market are likely going to go fast. You may only have a day or two to decide if you want to place an offer in on the home. Some agents are even using offer deadlines, which will impact your time frame as a buyer. Moral of the story: If you’d like to make an offer, you’ll have to make a decision…and quickly. In April 2021 the median number of days a home was on the market was only 17 days (compared to 27 days in April of 2020) with an average of 5 offers on each property (up from 2.5 offers in April 2020).
  5. Be Patient. There is no doubt that today’s market is incredibly competitive. Which means there could be some disappointment for buyers. But if you’ve got a great real estate partner and a bit of patience, you’ll find your perfect home.

If you’re looking to learn more about the current housing market, curious about what your home is worth, or looking for your first home, please contact a HUNT Real Estate sales professional today.


Do Pets Impact Home Buying Decisions?

We love our pets. 66% of U.S. households have a pet or plan to get one. So it’s no surprise that when we’re buying a new home, our pets impact our home buying decisions. But just how much influence do they have over our home buying habits? And what property features matter most?

Homebuyers & Pets

Our pets can influence what type of home we buy and where the home is located. 43% of survey respondents said they would move or change their living situation to accommodate their pet.

Many millennials (~37% of buyers) are now in the housing market, so it should come as no surprise that buyers are becoming more concerned with pet-friendly features. Research shows that 76% of millennials are proud pet owners and see their pets as more than just their animal companions. 2 out of 5 said they actually think of their pets as their kids, so it’s no wonder their pet’s comfort is important to them when choosing a home.

REALTORS agree pets are important to their buyers, with 68% stating that community animal policies influenced their clients’ decision to rent/buy in a particular community.

What Pet-Friendly Features Matter Most?

So if you’re a home seller, what pet-friendly features are homebuyers looking for? Almost half (49%) said that a fenced-in yard was the most important feature they’re looking for with pets. 27% said they wanted a home large enough for both their family and their pet (s). Other factors included flooring, a mud room/dog wash station, a dog door, animal pool/outside water feature, a cat litter closet, and a built-in pet food bowl/pet bed.

If you’re ready to buy or sell your home, pets or no pets, make sure you contact a HUNT Sales Professional today!


The Home Buying Process

If you’re just starting the home buying process, and you’re a first-time homebuyer (or it’s been a while), you may be interested to know how the home buying process works. It isn’t as simple as HGTV can make it out to be, but with the help of an experienced sales professional, you can be in your new home in no time. Here’s an overview of what you can expect during the Home Buying Process.


Step 1: Getting Started

  • Contact a HUNT Real Estate sales professional.
  • Meet with your HUNT Agent. Get to know them and ask questions about their experience and what you should expect from your home buying experience
  • Get Prequalified. Pre-qualification is important for a multitude of reasons. It lets sellers know you’re serious about your offer and helps you identify your budget. For more information on pre-qualification, check out HUNT Mortgage.

Step 2: On the HUNT for Your House

  • Enroll in my house hunt and be the first to know when listings go live
  • Find your perfect home and work with your sales professional to place an offer
  • Negotiate and get an offer accepted

Step 3: Your Offer Was Accepted, now what?

  • Contact your attorney (check out the HUNT Homeowners Club Attorneys) for approval
  • Inspection(s): get you home inspected (also check out the HUNT Homeowners Club!)
  • Apply for your mortgage: HUNT Mortgage has an online application that makes it easy to gather all of your documents and officially apply for your mortgage.
  • Get a Homeowners Insurance policy from HUNT Insurance.

Step 4: Closing

  • Loan Conditions Met: Finalize your mortgage paperwork and schedule your closing date.
  • Final Walkthrough happens within 24 hours of your closing date.
  • Closing Day

Step 5: Welcome to your new home!

There’s no set timeline for how long this process can take. For reference, according to the NAR, the average homebuyer looked for a median of 10 weeks to find their home, looking at a median of 9 homes during their search.



Before You Buy Your First Home…

man and woman walking into front door of home

Today’s market can seem intimidating if you’re a first-time homebuyer. Mortgage rates are at or near historic lows, but inventory is limited. However, you can prepare yourself for the competitive market and the road to homeownership ahead. Here are 4 ways you can prepare yourself as a first-time homebuyer.


Carefully select your real estate agent.

It’s important that the person who is guiding you through your first real estate transaction is a brilliant partner and resource. That’s why being selective when you choose your real estate agent is so important. Be sure to ask them questions about how they handle business, what their communication style is, and what you can expect from them. Your agent should be a wealth of knowledge and will be the one to help guide you through the process, so make sure your goals and expectations line up.

Know your budget before you look.

You’ve found your dream home. It has everything you need and want. The only problem is: it’s WAY out of your price range. Don’t start viewing homes, even online, until you’re aware of what your budget is. Reach out to a local mortgage consultant and get pre-qualified for your mortgage before you start your home search. You’ll be thankful you did in the long run. 

Know your wants vs. needs.

Make a list of features you would like in your home (wants), and a list of must-haves (needs). Understand what items that are an absolute requirement for your future home. For example, if you have a dog, a “need” might be a fenced-in yard, while a dog wash tub inside the house may be a “want.” Interested in some help to make your wants and needs list? Be sure to check out our blog post: Wants Vs. Needs.

Be prepared for a multiple-offer situation.

With many homebuyers in the market and limited inventory, it is common to be in a multiple-offer situation. But don’t fret! Working with a real estate professional gives you a significant advantage. Your agent will assist you in creating the best offer you can give, and guide you through that process. There are plenty of ways to help you win in a multiple offer situation, so don’t worry if this comes up in your home buying journey


When you’re ready to start your home buying journey, be sure to reach out to one of our knowledgeable sales professionals in your area.


Buy, Build or Fix: What’s Best for First-Time Home Buyers?

With a limited supply of entry-level housing for sale, getting your foot in the door you want could be a challenge if you’re looking to buy your first home soon.

Nearly a third of Americans who’ve never previously bought a home say they plan to in the next five years, according to a survey commissioned by NerdWallet and conducted online by The Harris Poll among 2,007 U.S. adults in January 2020.

Before you join the house hunt, decide which type of property best fits your goals. Here are the pros and cons of buying a turnkey home, building a new house or renovating a fixer-upper.

Buy if you can roll with the punches

What could be the downside to a move-in-ready house? All you need to do is move. But in today’s market, competition is fierce. According to data from the National Association of Realtors, in December 2019 the inventory of homes for sale in the U.S. reached its lowest level in over 20 years.

“You have to be ready to go yesterday,” says Simone Plush, a real estate agent with Washington, D.C.-area Century 21 New Millennium. Especially for first-time home buyers, the process can be “an emotional roller coaster,” Plush says. She encourages buyers to be strategic and swift when making an offer on a turnkey home. For example, looking at homes priced slightly below your budget lets you afford a competitive bid that’s over the asking price.

When you’re feeling frustrated, Plush says, remember your “why” — the reason you’re house hunting in the first place. Reconnecting to your desire to have a backyard for your kids, for example, can help you maintain momentum.

Build if you want to call the shots

New construction might sound intimidating and time-consuming, but unless you’re starting from scratch with an architect and a piece of land, it can be surprisingly straightforward and speedy.

“In many of our communities, home buyers have the option to purchase a quick move-in home,” one that will be ready within 30 to 90 days, commented Jessica Hansen, vice president of communications for Arlington, Texas-based homebuilders D.R. Horton, via email.

Time frames can vary by builder and demand. Jeff Mezger, president and CEO of Los Angeles-based builder KB Home, says his company averages three to four months from breaking ground to move-in day. The average home search takes about 10 weeks, according to a 2019 NAR survey, followed by several more weeks to close and get the keys.

In the same survey, the most-cited reason home buyers gave for purchasing new construction was to avoid renovations or problems with mechanical systems. Both these builders, like many others, offer home warranties, protection that buyers of existing homes may have to purchase for themselves.

“When you close on a used home, you’re on your own if something goes wrong,” Mezger says. “With a new home, you still have that relationship with us.”

But these conveniences come at a cost: In the NAR survey, those who bought new construction paid a median price $85,000 more than those who purchased a previously owned property. Feasibility may also depend on where you live. In an urban area or well-established suburb, building new may be difficult without paying to tear down an existing structure. In rural areas, there’s plenty of land, but starting from the ground up outside a development may mean extra costs for securing access to water, electricity and more.

Fix if location’s a must

Renovating a fixer-upper is tougher than it looks on TV, but if the house has good bones, you could snag an affordable home in your ideal neighborhood. The NAR survey shows 26% of first-time home buyers said they compromised on condition in order to buy a home. Condition issues are unsurprising as the nation’s housing stock ages. According to Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, as of 2019 nearly 80% of American homes were at least 20 years old, and 40% were at least 50.

“First-time home buyers should not be shy about houses that have good mechanical and structural components that are just ugly,” says David Pekel, a former contractor who’s now CEO of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry. “You can fix ugly.”Pekel recommends working with an experienced home inspector to determine what needs to be addressed. A contractor can delineate the scope of work and potential cost. Pekel says most will charge a consultation fee that’s refunded if they’re hired.

Finding your financing

Whether you choose to buy, build or fix, there are various financing options. In addition to conventional mortgages and standard government-backed loans, there are construction loans and renovation loans suited for borrowers financing new construction or remodeling. A lender that offers loan products for the kind of property you want can guide you through your choices.

This article was written by NerdWallet and was originally published by The Associated Press.

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Kate Wood is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: kwood@nerdwallet.com.

The article Buy, Build or Fix: What’s Best for First-Time Home Buyers? originally appeared on NerdWallet.


Buying a House: Working With a Real Estate Agent to Make an Offer

When making an offer, a real estate agent brings some pretty powerful assets to the table: market knowledge, objectivity and (hopefully) some well-honed negotiating skills. Buying a house is emotional, and your agent can help level the field by bringing a more rational approach to the transaction. Here’s how the two of you can work together to get the best possible deal.

Don’t ignore the market

When it comes to making an offer, it’s more important than ever to consider a home’s value — which might not be the same as its listing price. Carefully study the comparative market analysis provided by your real estate agent. When researching the home and neighborhood’s value online, compare the estimates provided by Zillow, Trulia and Redfin, which can range widely.

Your agent will help you interpret the data and establish a fair offer price.

Work with a Real Estate Agent to Make an Offer

Staying sane in a seller’s market

If you’re buying a house in a hot market, it’s easy to get caught up in auction fever. Your agent can help keep you focused only on what you can control. If a number of buyers are interested in the same home, make your first bid your best offer.

If you’re really motivated to buy a particular property, consider putting together two or more offers in advance. That way, if there are no competing offers, your agent can submit the lowest. The higher offers can be the go-to bids if there’s a crowded field.

Find out why the seller is moving

The seller usually wants to sell as much as, if not more than, you want to buy. He has just one house to sell; you have a market full of opportunities. Of course, this is less of a factor in a strong seller’s market where inventory is low. But if the seller has already signed a contract on his next home, or if there’s a divorce in the mix or a job relocation timetable in play, that’s all good information to have. Have your real estate agent do as much recon as possible.

Keep the contingencies in check

In competitive real estate markets, contingencies can be deal killers. When it comes to conditions, get creative. Forget the little stuff and concentrate on major issues that must be addressed — and offer alternatives.

For example, if an inspection reveals necessary repairs, ask for a credit adjustment to be applied at closing, rather than putting the onus of contracting and completing the repair work on the owner. Anything you can do to ease the sales process and shorten the time to loan closing may work in your favor.

Make sure your agent is a strong advocate

Ideally, your buyer’s agent is both a master negotiator and your biggest advocate. For sellers, it’s not always just about the money. If your agent is singing your praises (you’re preapproved, love the neighborhood, offering a bigger down payment), you might score the edge in what would have been a tie. Personalities play a part in any human interaction.

How a seller is treated — and how a buyer is represented — can often make or break a real estate deal. Make sure your agent is at least pretending to be your biggest fan.

If it’s a no, move on

Having a deal go south on you is going to hurt. You can wallow in your disappointment for as long as you want, or for about an hour — whichever comes first. Think of it this way: You’re not starting over; you’ve already eliminated a lot of the variables. You know how this whole thing works now. It’s just a matter of finding the right house.

But first, if you lost in a multiple-offer situation, see if your agent can get your bid in a backup position. Deals fall through, and if the accepted offer does crater — because of a loan snag, a broken contingency, whatever — you might be in a prime position to rescue a sale.

In the meantime, in addition to revisiting your house runners-up, consider asking your real estate agent to gather up some older or expired listings. Many buyers neglect this segment of the market. If a house has been on the market for a while without selling, you’ve got some leverage, perhaps even a motivated seller.Find the Best Real Estate Agent

Getting the deal done

Congratulations! You finally have a signed contract in hand and can almost smell the green grass (desert blooms, pine-covered mountains, salty sea air — fumes of rush-hour traffic?) of your new neighborhood. You’re like a long-distance runner stretching for the finish-line tape. It’s time to move from deal making to loan closing.

Hal Bundrick is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: hal@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @halmbundrick

This article originally appeared on NerdWallet.


Mortgage Pre-Qualification

A photo of happy expecting couple using digital tablet on sofa. Loving young partners surfing internet at home. Both are wearing casuals in brightly lit room.

Getting a mortgage pre-qualification is important in today’s competitive market. It’s almost a necessity when you’re ready to place a serious offer on a house. For most homebuyers, this is the first step in the home buying process.

Why should I get pre-qualified?

Pre-qualification letters show the amount you’ve been pre-qualified for and are based on your current credit history, income, assets and debt. However, pre-qualifications do not go through a full underwriting review by the lender, so it’s not a commitment to provide you a home loan. 

What information do I need to provide to get pre-qualified?

Since your lender will need to review your financial situation, you’ll need to provide some information and documentation. You could be asked for:

  • Social Security Number
  • Employment history (minimum of 2 years)
  • 2 most recent paystubs (to verify proof of income)
  • Tax documents
  • Bank account information (account numbers, statements)

Is there something that could make my offer more competitive?

A pre-qualification is a great way to show sellers that you are serious about your offer. The HUNT Mortgage Pre-Purchase Commitment Program is an even better way. The HUNT Mortgage Pre-Purchase Commitment Program delivers a fully underwritten commitment, subject only to collateral conditions and to reassure sellers, HUNT Mortgage backs its commitment with a $1,000 guarantee*. If a buyer does not close on a transaction due to the buyer’s mortgage application failing, we will pay the seller $1,000. The guarantee distinguishes HUNT customers from other buyers a seller may be considering.

Contact HUNT Mortgage (link to contact page) or call 888.433.8373 to discover how you can apply for your own no-cost, no-obligation Pre-Purchase Commitment that gives you a competitive advantage when you shop for a home. By getting a commitment for your financing upfront, you can truly enjoy the process of shopping for your dream home.

Disclaimer: *The guaranty is null and void if:  a) The property is not deemed acceptable collateral for the loan due to value and or condition; b) The buyer or seller willfully cancels the transaction; c) The buyer voluntarily terminates employment and or voluntarily divests assets prior to closing; d) The buyer takes out new credit after the Pre-Purchase Commitment is issued; e) The seller is unable to deliver clear acceptable title;  f) Guaranty is only on owner occupied single family transactions; g) The transaction does not close due to a contract contingency not being met other than the mortgage financing; h) Pre-Purchase Commitment was issued with maximum specific sale price and taxes, guaranty is void if either of these are exceeded; i) The contract closing is dated past the expiration of the Pre-Purchase Commitment. Guaranty is only on Pre-Purchase Commitments issued by HUNT Mortgage


Stop Stressing: You Don’t Need a 20% Down Payment to Buy a Home

glass jar tipped over with pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters spilling out

Many Americans may be unnecessarily talking themselves out of homeownership. Thirty-seven percent of nonhomeowners say not having enough saved for a down payment is holding them back from homeownership, but 62% of Americans incorrectly believe you have to have at least 20% of a home’s purchase price to buy, according to NerdWallet’s 2020 Home Buyer Report.

“These days, you don’t need to put a full 20% down on a home,” says NerdWallet home and mortgage expert Holden Lewis. “Lenders offer mortgages with far less — as little as 3% down — which allows far more people to get into homeownership sooner.”

So, how do you know just how much you need to save up based on your specific goals? It requires a little strategizing.

Before you can zero in on a down payment target, you have to determine how much home you can afford and when you’d like to start home shopping. First, set your homebuying budget with a home affordability calculator to get estimated monthly payments based on various home prices, down payment amounts and locations.

Then, set an approximate timeline. Maybe you’re planning a wedding and know you won’t be ready to purchase for at least two years, or you’re just starting a graduate program and want to give yourself five years to find employment and settle down after graduation. Be realistic and account for your life circumstances.

With a homebuying budget and estimated timeline, you can start running numbers to set a down payment savings goal.

1. Is saving 20% by your goal date realistic?

Calculate 20% of that homebuying budget and determine if it’s feasible to stash that amount away in the time you’ve allotted.

If the answer is yes, great! A big down payment doesn’t only lower monthly payments, it can save you thousands of dollars in interest over the life of the loan and eliminate the need to pay private mortgage insurance.

If it’s no, you have two options: Revisit your goal parameters — opting for a less expensive home or pushing out your target date — or consider a smaller down payment.

Example: For a $250,000 home, someone starting with $0 saved would need to save about $1,400 each month to reach a 20% down payment in three years. For most folks, that’s a stretch. Adjusting the timeline to five years would require monthly savings of about $800. While that may be more realistic, a smaller down payment could get you in a home sooner and with less stress to your monthly household budget.

2. How much can you save by your deadline?

What’s the most you can save monthly for your down payment goal? If you don’t already know the answer, create a monthly household budget to help figure out where your money is going and how much you can set aside.

At a high level, allocating 50% of your post-tax income toward your needs, 30% toward your wants, and 20% toward savings (including your down payment) and debt repayment is a sustainable approach. But by accounting for all of your income and spending, you may realize you can sacrifice a little of your dining out and entertainment money (wants) temporarily to make homeownership a reality sooner.

Example: You decide you can set aside $350 each month. If you’re still hoping to start home shopping in three years, this would leave you with $12,600, or a 5% down payment. Because many lenders accept down payments of 5%, and even lower, you’ll be in a good place to buy around your three-year target date.

3. Do you qualify for down payment assistance?

Even setting aside $12,000 in three years can seem out of reach for some people, but all hope is not lost. First-time home buyers, or those who haven’t owned a home for the past three years, may qualify for down payment assistance, a grant or loan to cover some or all down payment costs. And in some cases, repeat buyers may qualify.Such programs can both shorten the path to homeownership and free existing savings for closing costs, moving or other homebuying expenses.

Weighing the trade-offs of a high vs. low down payment

A down payment doesn’t have to stand in the way of homeownership. Smaller down payments and down payment assistance programs can help you achieve your homebuying dreams more quickly and leave you some savings for an emergency fund or unexpected repairs.

It’s worth considering, too, since there’s no guarantee your $250,000 homebuying budget will get you the same type of property in three years as it would if you bought sooner. Home prices have been rising, but what will happen in the future and what it could mean for your down payment target is hard to know.On the other hand, a bigger down payment can equate to a better interest rate on your loan, lower monthly payment, more equity in your home right away, and not paying monthly for mortgage insurance. Because you’re borrowing less money, you’ll pay less in interest over the life of your loan and have lower monthly payments.

How much of a down payment you need is ultimately a personal decision, a balancing act between financial factors and how quickly you want to achieve your dream of homeownership.

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Elizabeth Renter is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: elizabeth@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @elizabethrenter.

The article Stop Stressing: You Don’t Need a 20% Down Payment to Buy a Home originally appeared on NerdWallet.


First-Time Homebuyers: Don’t Make These Mistakes!

Have you heard? January is the new April! The spring market is kicking off unusually early this year, so if you’re a first-time home buyer you may be starting the home buying process earlier than expected. If you’re ready to start your house HUNT, here are a few common first-time homebuyer mistakes to avoid:


Looking outside of your price range.

man signing paperwork on a table

When you view homes online, it can be tempting to look at all the homes available without a price range in mind. But if you look at homes that are unattainable, you could fall in love with a home that you can’t afford. Think you can afford to stretch your budget to the max? Consider that while you may think you’re just spending an extra $10K, “…you’re paying an extra $10,000 plus interest (Investopia.com).” Carefully consider how much you can stretch your budget before you start looking so you don’t end up in a home you can’t afford.

Skipping your neighborhood research

blue front porch with seating

You’ll want to do some research on the neighborhoods you are looking at. Look into the neighborhood, and ask yourself important questions like:

  • What can of development plans are in the works? 
  • What are the zoning laws? If there is a lot of open land, what could be built on it?
  • Have home values in the area been on the rise or decline?
  • Is this a safe neighborhood during the day and night? (drive around at different times of the day)
  • Is this home on a main street? Will it get a lot of traffic? 

Getting caught in a bidding war

Couple with smart phone smiling

You find a house you love. The problem? So do 5 other people. While it can be easy to get into a bidding war, you may end up offering significantly more than a home is worth. This can become a major problem for anyone financing their home purchase. If you’re relying on a mortgage and the bank doesn’t appraise the house at or above the amount you offered, you may be coughing up a lot more money. And the worst-case scenario: your deal may fall through.

Make sure you know what the home is worth and how much you can afford before entering a bidding war. Your agent can be a great asset to inform you about the home’s value so you know when you should stay and when you should walk away.

Skipping out on an agent

Using a real estate agent to assist you in your home buying process is a great idea. In fact, 89% of homebuyers in 2019 said they used a real estate agent for their home buying transaction.

We always suggest that you do your research to find an agent or team to assist you. You want to be deliberate with your agent choice because your success or failure could depend on them. They handle a large portion of your home buying process. Don’t ever work with an agent that does not fit your needs. Make a list of recommended agents and look them up online. See what previous customers have said, what areas they specialize in, and what they can offer you. 


With the right agent to guide you, you can attack this “early” spring market with ease! Contact a HUNT Real Estate Sales Professional today if you’re ready to start your House HUNT.