Allison McIntyre's Blog
If you are thinking of buying your first home, you’re thinking of making the single biggest purchase of your entire lifetime. Real estate is complex. From getting finances in order to understanding the entire process to securing the home you love, there’s so much that you’ll need to know when it comes to buying your first home.
What Is A Down Payment?
A down payment is a one-time cash payment that you’ll provide at the closing table when you buy a home. How much your down payment is will have an effect on how much your monthly mortgage payment will be. It will also affect your initial home equity value.
Should You Keep Renting?
First, you’ll need to think of a savings goal and a timeline. The general rule is that if you own a home for at least 5 years, you have gotten your “money’s worth” out of the closing costs and the fees you paid at the time you purchased your home. If you don’t think you’ll stay in a home for at least 5 years before making another move, you may want to consider renting until you know where you want to settle.
What Can You Afford?
You’ll need to calculate just how much home you can afford. Look at potential monthly mortgage payments plus taxes, fees, insurance, utilities and other monthly expenses that you have.
In dual-income households, it’s nice if the living expenses can be covered just by one person’s paycheck. Once you have an idea of your budget, you can price out homes that will meet your needs and be in your price range.
Why You Should Save More
The best practice in buying a home is to put 20% down on the house. With this sizable down payment, it will be easier to get approved for a mortgage. You’ll also avoid needing PMI (private mortgage insurance.) This is an additional cost for people who put down less than a 20% down payment. This can cost you a lot of money each month, so it’s best to save as much as you can for that initial down payment.
Don’t be discouraged. You can still buy a home with a lower percentage of a down payment, but you’ll have to pay for the PMI and include the additional expense in your budget. The Federal Housing Administration has many different options available that allow you to put a smaller down payment on a home, so do your homework.
How To Save
Once you get an idea of about how much you’ll spend on your home, you need to take action and start saving. There are many ways that you can save automatically without even thinking about it. You can choose a fixed amount or percentage of your paycheck and save it automatically into the house fund. Save as much as you can so you’ll be able to make your home purchase more quickly. You may even want to consider putting your money into a money market account for a higher return on your savings once you reach a certain goal.
Don’t Forget To Save Your Bonuses
Whether you have received a gift or a sizable Christmas bonus, make sure that you put that money away towards your home purchase. Every little bit helps. While we may have an inclination to want to spend the money on more immediate things, you’ll be happy that you saved your money when you head to purchase your house!
Use Your IRA
The IRS allows a tax benefit for first time home buyers. You can take out up to $10,000 out of your IRA or Roth IRA for a first time home purchase. Your Roth IRA account must be at least 5 years old in order for you to do this. Distributions from this account are tax-free, but you’ll need to pay tax if you withdraw form a traditional IRA. You should discuss any withdrawals that you do make with your financial advisor and your tax advisor. This could be an opportunity for you to build your wealth in a new way, so make an informed decision.
Happy saving and happy house hunting!