In today’s market, low inventory dominates the conversation in many areas of the country. It can often be frustrating to be a first-time homebuyer if you aren’t prepared. Here are five tips from realtor.com’s article, “How to Find Your Dream Home—Without Losing Your Mind.”
In a high-paced, competitive environment, any advantage you can give yourself will help you on your path to buying your dream home.
When people talk about homeownership and the American Dream, much of the conversation revolves around the financial benefits of owning a home. However, two recent studies show that the non-financial benefits might be even more valuable.
In a recent survey, Bank of America asked homeowners: “Does owning a home make you happier than renting?” 93% of the respondents answered yes, while only 7% said no. The survey also revealed:
- More than 80% said they wouldn’t go back to renting
- 88% agreed that buying a home is the “best decision they have ever made”
- 79% believed owning a home has changed them for the better
Those surveyed talked about the “emotional equity” that is built through homeownership. The study says more than half of current homeowners define a home as a place to make memories, compared to 42% who view a home as a financial investment. Besides building wealth, the survey also showed that homeownership enhances quality of life:
- 67% of current homeowners believed their relationships with family and loved ones have changed for the better since they bought a home
- 78% are satisfied with the quality of their social life
- 82% of homeowners said they were satisfied with the amount of time they spend on their hobbies and passions since purchasing a home
- 75% of homeowners pursued new hobbies after buying a home
Homeowners seem to be very happy.
Renters Tell a Different Story…
According to the latest Zillow Housing Aspirations Report, 45% of renters regret renting rather than buying — more than five times the share of homeowners (8%) who regret buying instead of renting. Here are the four major reasons people regret renting, according to the report:
- 52% regret not being able to build equity
- 52% regret not being able to customize or improve their rentals
- 50% regret that the rent is so high
- 49% regret that they lack private outdoor space
These two studies prove that renting is just not the same as owning.
There are both financial and non-financial benefits to homeownership. As good as the “financial equity” is, it doesn’t compare to the “emotional equity” gained through owning your own home.
In today’s world, hiring an agent who has a finger on the pulse of the market will make your buying or selling experience an educated one.
In a normal housing market, whether you’re buying or selling a home, you need an experienced guide to help you navigate the process. You need someone you can turn to who will tell you how to price your home correctly right from the start. You need someone who can help you determine what to offer on your dream home without paying too much or offending the seller with a low-ball offer.
We are, however, in anything but a “normal market” right now. The media is full of stories about an impending recession, a trade war with China, and constant political upheaval. Each of these potential situations could dramatically impact the real estate market. To successfully navigate the landscape today, you need more than an experienced guide. You need a ‘Real Estate Sherpa.’
A Sherpa is a “member of a Himalayan people living on the borders of Nepal and Tibet, renowned for their skill in mountaineering.” Sherpas are skilled in leading their parties through the extreme altitudes of the peaks and passes in the region – some of the most treacherous trails in the world. They take pride in their hardiness, expertise, and experience at very high altitudes.
They are much more than just guides.
This is much more than a normal real estate market.
The average guide just won’t do. You need a ‘Sherpa.’ You need an expert who understands what is happening in the market and why it is happening. You need someone who can simply and effectively explain it to you and your family. You need an expert who will guarantee you make the right decision, even in these challenging times.
Dave Ramsey, the financial guru, advises:
“When getting help with money, whether it’s insurance, real estate or investments, you should always look for someone with the heart of a teacher, not the heart of a salesman.”
Hiring an agent who has a finger on the pulse of the market will make your buying or selling experience an educated one.
You’ve most likely heard the rule: Save for a 20-percent down payment before you buy a home. The logic behind saving 20 percent is solid, as it shows that you have the financial discipline and stability to save for a long-term goal. It also helps you get favorable rates from lenders.
But there can actually be financial benefits to putting down a small down payment—as low as three percent—rather than parting with so much cash up front, even if you have the money available.
The downsides of a small down payment are pretty well known. You’ll have to pay Private Mortgage Insurance for years, and the lower your down payment, the more you’ll pay. You’ll also be offered a lesser loan amount than borrowers who have a 20-percent down payment, which will eliminate some homes from your search.
The national average for home appreciation is about five percent. The appreciation is independent from your home payment, so whether you put down 20 percent or three percent, the increase in equity is the same. If you’re looking at your home as an investment, putting down a smaller amount can lead to a higher return on investment, while also leaving more of your savings free for home repairs, upgrades, or other investment opportunities.
The Happy Medium
Of course, your home payment options aren’t binary. Most borrowers can find some common ground between the security of a traditional 20 percent and an investment-focused, small down payment. Your trusted real estate professional can provide some answers as you explore your financing options.