Buying your first home is more difficult than ever thanks to soaring housing prices and the fact that wages haven’t risen in proportion with inflation. Lots of millennials have downright abandoned the idea of ever being a homeowner. But don’t give up on your dream of owning a house! Here are 7 tips that will help you purchase your very first home.
1. Get a Federally-Secured Loan
A federally-secured loan can be massively beneficial for first-time homebuyers. These are loans that are backed by the US government and are designed to make mortgages more affordable for first-time homeowners, and low to middle income Americans. Federally-secured loans typically require lower credit scores than a conventional mortgage, and you may only have to make a down payment of 3%.
An FHA loan is one of the most popular types of federally-secured loans—you may be eligible for it if you’re a first-time buyer and you have a moderate income. Some other popular federal loans are the VA loan, which is a mortgage loan for military veterans and their families, and the USDA loan, which is a mortgage for people buying a home in a rural or semi-rural area.
Federally-secured loans can save you a huge amount of money, so be sure to look into them and see if you’re eligible for one.
2. Seek a Non-QM Mortgage
It can be difficult for first-time homebuyers to secure a mortgage because you typically need to have a high credit score. You can have a low credit score and still be a financially responsible person—maybe it’s just that you don’t frequently use credit cards, or you don’t have a long history of loan payments.
If that’s the case, you can seek out non-QM mortgages online. These types of mortgages only require that you provide financial documents like bank statements, assets owned, and credit history, and they don’t rely as much on credit score. Look into this option if you’re ready to buy a house, but your credit score isn’t great; it can take years to improve your credit score, so you shouldn’t put off buying a house if you’ve got the money or if there’s currently a buyer’s market.
3. Place a Large Down Payment
Experts suggest that you make a down payment of at least 20% when you’re applying for a conventional 30-year mortgage. The more your down payment is, the better interest rate you’ll get. Lots of people get antsy and want to buy a house right away, and they’re willing to go with a smaller down payment and higher interest. Just remember that a 2% difference in interest might not seem like a lot, but over 30 years it adds up to quite a bit of money—all money that could be used for savings or retirement contributions. Don’t rush yourself if you don’t have to, and try and save up enough money to make that 20% down payment.
4. Pay Off Your Debt First
It’s always best to pay off all your debt before you buy your first home. When you’ve paid off all your debt, you’ll have more money to handle making your mortgage payments. This might be a necessity if you’re using a federally-secured loan; these loans typically only require a small down payment, but that also means the mortgage payments and interest are higher, and you could get financially overwhelmed if you’re also having to pay off student loans and auto loans.
Try and cut back your spending on luxury dates, bar tabs, and expensive vacations and get your debt paid down before you take out a mortgage.
5. Do a Fix and Flip
Run-down properties tend to be cheaper, so you might want to find a home that’s a fixer-upper. With a little bit of work, you can easily and affordably renovate a run-down home and not only make it livable, but totally modern and elegant.
Do the simple work yourself—resurfacing the floors and counters, painting the house, replacing rotten wood, etc. Then hire contractors to do the more complicated work, like plumbing and electricity. Once your home is fixed up, you can incorporate great furniture and design trends so you can enjoy a luxury living space.
Remember, this doesn’t have to be the home you retire in. This can be your starter home which you’ll use to grow your wealth and build your credit history. Later, you can look for a luxury home for your second property.
Buying your first home is never an easy process, but these tips can help you make it a lot more affordable.