At any one moment, buying a home for the first time can be: challenging, vulnerable, thrilling, terrifying, life-changing, savvy, collaborative, complicated, fun, overwhelming and immensely rewarding. Yup, it’s all that and then some. Luckily, you don’t have to do it all on your own—or have to learn it all on your own. We break down the most important principles, tips, and info if you’re a first-time home-buyer in 2019.
Today’s housing market is…
While variations exist around the country and no two local markets are the same, the present housing market is generally defined by two things: inventory and demand. Low inventory (referring to the number of available houses on the market) is combining with high demand (the number of people who want to buy a home) to create a competitive environment for many home-buyers. First-time home-buyers should be prepared to move quickly when they find the right property. To put themselves in the best possible position, they should also do their homework to make sure they can hit the ground running.
Get those rates while the getting’s good
While 2018 was defined by steadily creeping interest rates, rates have looked more attractive in 2019, with 30-year rates trending lower throughout the first quarter. Moving forward, rates could go either way for the rest of 2019, depending on external factors like US GDP, slowing global growth and Fed policy decisions. With the present uncertainty around which way rates could move, home-buyers might want to try to capture favorable mortgage rates while they last.
Securing that down payment
According to the National Association of Realtors, 88% of recent buyers financed their home purchase. But for many first-time home-buyers, the biggest hurdle to securing that financing is the down payment. Luckily, there are lots of down payment options available specifically to first-time home-buyers that may allow you to put down less than the conventional 20%. Another trend in the 2019 market is the increased assistance buyers are receiving from relatives and family—among FHA borrowers, more than 26% got assistance from a relative to make the down payment.
Buying in a hurry
While it’s ideal to be able to take your time with your first home purchase, sometimes life has other plans in mind. Buyers can often be forced into a shorter timeframe because of a relocation, either because of a new job or for PCS, or permanent change of station for members of the military. Buying a home on a quick timeline can make the traditionally complicated experience even more so, so if you do have to buy in a rush, you’ll want to make things as easy as possible. One helpful thing to do is to get pre-approved for home financing. Having a pre-approval letter from a qualified lender can help your offer stand out in a crowded market, and can show sellers that you're informed and prepared to buy.
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