From low inventory to higher prices and climbing interest rates, the housing market nationwide continues to present challenges for individuals and families as they home hunt.
“With so many market factors beyond buyers’ control, it’s vital to keep emotions in check and focus on those things you can control while looking for a house,” said Jessica Ferastoaru, a housing specialist with Take Charge America, a nonprofit credit and housing counseling agency. “With some patience, diligence and flexibility, you should be able to find a home you love without sabotaging your financial security.”
Ferastoaru shares six factors to consider when shopping for a home this year:
Consider adjusting your budget. With continued high prices, you may want to reevaluate your budget. This includes not only the price of a house, but other costs like closing fees, association dues, insurance, taxes, maintenance and utilities. Be as specific and realistic as you can without stretching yourself beyond your means.
Consider down payment assistance. If you can pay a standard 20% down payment, great! If not, don’t fret. Explore down payment assistance programs in your city, county or state with your lender or a nonprofit housing counselor. These programs help homebuyers with loans or grants to reduce the amount they need for a down payment.
Consider changing neighborhoods. If you can’t find anything in your preferred neighborhood, think about expanding your search to surrounding areas. You may find the right home you wouldn’t otherwise have seen.
Consider locking in your interest rate. Interest rates are climbing and expected to rise higher. Depending on your timeline, talk with your mortgage lender about rate lock options and determine whether it makes sense to lock it in as you house hunt.
Consider a new build. Rather than compete for existing homes, explore a newly constructed home. New builds provide newer floorplans, additional warranties and modern construction existing homes don’t. Maintenance costs also likely will be lower. Granted, you may have to wait months for construction.
Consider waiting. Depending on your situation, it may be a good option to wait. Although there’s no way to predict the future, waiting may allow you more time to save additional funds to purchase down the road.
To learn more about homebuying and whether you’re ready to purchase a house, consider Pre-Purchase Housing Counseling from Take Charge America.