It’s the end of January, and many of us are still trying (possibly failing) to fulfill our resolutions for the year.
Instead of holding on to unrealistic resolutions, try setting a personal goal for yourself: Make 2018 the year you buy a home or the year you set yourself up to buy one next spring.
Maybe you’re currently a renter, or you’re in a home that no longer fits your lifestyle. Either way, we’re here to help you, using our home buyer’s action plan for 2018.
Start with your finances
What is your current financial situation? Is your savings plan sporadic or do you consistently set a portion of each paycheck aside for your future home?
Creating and sticking to a budget is the first step to saving more money. Even if you don’t think you currently have enough disposable income, with a little work it’s easier than you think to cut back on your expenses.
Take a look at what you’re currently spending and take note. Determine:
- What’s essential vs. non-essential
- What’s recurring vs. random/one-time
- What expenses are realistic vs. ones that could be replaced with cheaper options
Once you’ve identified what’s what when it comes to your spending habits, figure out which can be cut out completely and which can be scaled back. Create a new budget and then get creative in order to meet it.
Rent and car payments are going to be the same every month, but your grocery bills can be cut down by shopping at a grocery outlet or buying less to prevent waste. Switching to a new cell phone provider could cut down on your monthly costs. Instead of hitting the drive-through Starbucks on your way to work, make your own coffee at home, and pack your lunch while you’re at it. No, you don’t have to stop putting avocados on your salads. This is Southern California, after all!
Hold on to your savings
Once you’ve spent a few months cutting back on non-essential expenses for a few months, take a look at how much you’ve been saving on average each month, and then start automatically saving that amount each month. This will eventually become your down payment.
Ask for assistance
Getting married? Having a baby? Celebrating your birthday? That means gifts for you!
Instead of asking for traditional gifts like kitchen appliances, extra baby clothes that will soon be outgrown, and birthday dinners, inform your friends and relatives of your decision to buy a home in 2018, and request that they help contribute to your savings instead of buying you things you don’t necessarily need.
Though it might seem like a strange request at first, lots of home buyers, especially first-time buyers, are following this technique in order to expedite their purchase. Plus, your friends and family should be rooting for you and be happy to lend a hand.
Determine your needs
Do you need a home that is recently renovated and already has all or most of the features you need? Or, are you willing to move into a home that needs some updates but is ultimately move-in ready?
Some buyers don’t want to have to put in any work once they move into their new home. But with tight inventory and competitive markets, sometimes you have to think outside the box. Finding a home in a desirable area and priced lower than your budget but doesn’t necessarily check all your boxes might be the way to go.
Or, maybe you do find the home of our dreams but it’s just outside your target neighborhood. Either way, making small sacrifices can save you money or shorten your search time, so don’t discount options unless you’ve weighed all the pros and cons.
Talk to your agent and ask what options are out there so you can determine which ones are right for you. You might end up with more options than you had before.
Prepare to enter the market
Once you’ve saved up enough for a down payment, there are a few steps to take before you jump right into the home search.
In today’s competitive market, it’s important to be fully prepared to make an offer on a home the second you find one you like. You’ll want to get pre-qualified, which basically means determining how much you can afford, and pre-approved, which means getting your mortgage loan amount approved.
Talk to an agent who can walk you through the process and help you determine everything needed in order to proceed. A qualified agent can educate you on things like when is the best time to buy a house, what escrow is and how it works, and when closing costs are due.
You’ll also want to partner with a responsible mortgage lender to help you get pre-approved so you’re ready to make an offer quickly and confidently.
Find your perfect
Once you’re feeling confident about what your needs are and you’ve partnered with an agent who has set you up for success, it’s time to start searching for and touring potential homes.
Remember that even if the perfect home you’ve envisioned doesn’t exist, the potential to buy and improve upon an existing home is one of the best advantages of owning your own home.
If you’re not in a rush to buy and nothing is catching your eye, waiting can mean more time to save money for your down payment–but it also can mean a fluctuating market. Keep an open dialogue with your agent so they know what your priorities are and what your ideal timeline is so they can keep an eye on the market and know how to advise you.
Every buyer is different
This action plan is designed to help you find your perfect home in 2018, but every buyer is different. If you know you’re not going to be ready to buy in 2018 or, if after following these steps you’re still not ready at the end of the year, following this plan will still get you that much closer.
Start today and you’ll thank yourself later. Happy home hunting!