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Is This Your Situation: Looking for the Best Home in Your Budget?

 

You're neither rich nor poor, and you're ready to buy your first home. You look around—all those homes on the market, but they all seem priced out of reach.
Cheer up. You're not alone. With some solid real estate counseling and some help from your lender and/or sellers and others, you can not only get your foot in the door, you can own the house too. It just takes some creativity, a few inside tips and a bit of homework.

Examine Your Goals

How ironclad are your dreams? Can your dream of a formal dining room or a hot tub on a redwood deck be postponed? Must you have a two car garage? Lowering your expectations and starting out modestly (in decent housing that meets your needs) can lead to owning those dreams in time.

Start Saving

Get your priorities straight. Without taking all the fun out of life, what's more important to you, weekends on the road and dinners out or stashing away at least part of your down payment? (Most lenders want to see that some of the money you invest is your own.)

Keep Your Credit Record Clean

When you go mortgage shopping, lenders will be looking over your payment records. Don't let a late-payment habit rise up to haunt you. (Reformed late-payers can request creditors to erase the blots on their records—for a small fee).

Look for Financial Assistance

Your parents and other relatives may be able and willing to give you gifts that will get you over the down payment hurdle. (Loans from relatives will be counted as debts and will lower a number of mortgage payments your lender will allow you to carry).

Get Some Co-Signers

Parents, relatives (and unrelated investors) can either co-sign a loan or share the ownership of your home. With shared ownership, you'll be the resident but your co-investor may share specified expenses (plus tax advantages and equity accrual) and will share in your profit on the sale.

Shop for Mortgage Loans

Qualifying for a mortgage can be managed in several ways to fit your down payment and monthly payment abilities. FHA and VA loans come with low down payment requirements, and lenders offer ARMs (adjustable-rate mortgages) at initially low-interest rates. (Look for an ARM that can be converted to a fixed rate should rates drop).

Consider Creative Financing

Also, new-home builders and other sellers may offer buy-downs that lower your interest rate in the first few years of a mortgage, thereby making a home more affordable. Balloon loans (if they have at least a 7-year term) can often bridge gaps and give you time to accumulate equity and/or cash to pay them off. Home sellers can sometimes help you financially—with a lease-purchase arrangement or a take-back loan. Lenders and sellers are constantly creating new ways to help buyers buy homes. We can help you check them out.

Look at Starter Homes

Once freed of the vision of "instant dream home," you can look for housing that will start you on the equity-building path to realizing your dream. Condominiums and townhouses are often much less expensive than detached houses and buying one now can serve well as a stepping stone.

Search for Bargains

If you're handy with tools, a fixer-upper home gives you the opportunity to buy inexpensively. Fix it up and in a few years, trade up. If you're adventurous, auctioned properties in suitable neighborhoods can also be good values. If you don't mind a longer commute to work, outlying areas frequently offer homes at lower prices than those found close to town.

Whatever route you choose toward buying your first home, keep cool. It may take time to find the right combination of elements, but there is a home out there for you and a way to obtain it. We'll be happy to help you create your path to its door.

Call or email us today to help you discover the best home that your budget can buy.

 
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The information provided in this email newsletter is for general guidance only, and does not constitute the provision of legal advice, tax and accounting advice, real estate investment advice, or professional consulting of any kind. The information provided herein should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional real estate, tax, accounting, legal, or other competent advisers. Before making any decision or taking any action, you should consult a professional adviser who has been provided with all pertinent facts relevant to your particular situation. Home value estimate calculators provided herein are general estimations based on publicly available data and should not be used as a substitute for a professional appraisal. The information is provided “as is,” with no assurance or guarantee of completeness, accuracy, or timeliness of the information, and without warranty of any kind, express or implied, including but not limited to warranties of performance, merchantability, and fitness for a particular purpose.
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