As the gap between the cost of rent and the cost of a mortgage continues to close, we see an increasing number of renters interested in buying. But how can renters make the transition to owners?
The purpose of this article is to help renters implement three critical changes today to help them successfully purchase a home tomorrow. If implemented correctly, these changes will help renters overcome the feeling of never being able to purchase a home.
Start by talking with a local lender
Do your research. Find a trusted lender in the location you are planning to purchase your home. Why is it important to use a local lender? Each housing market is different depending on location. Despite the similarities in names, what might be happening in San Francisco may not be happening in San Antonio. It is important to talk to a lender that is not only familiar with but understands the current local market and can explain to you what it takes to become a first-time homeowner. Check out our full article here. Your trusted advisor can then look at your specific financial situation and make suggestions to help you navigate the local market, meet your specific needs, and discuss your available options. This conversation can help you build your timeline for when it is right for you to purchase. Having the right team of real estate and lending professionals on your side can help tremendously when planning for your first home. Together they can help you determine your goals, what you can afford, and help you get pre-approved when you are ready. Need help finding a lender? Click here.
Reduce your debt and build your credit
Your first step should be knowing your credit score and what it means. Check out this article here for more information on credit scores. According to the HUD, the average credit score of first-time homebuyers is 716. There are many online tools that can help you determine your credit score. If you don’t already know yours it would be advantageous for you to find out.
If you determine that your score is below 716, don’t freak out.
First, 716 is just an average which means that there are homeowners with credit scores both above and below that number. Knowing your score gives you a snapshot of how you are doing financially and helps you know how to adjust accordingly to reach your goals.
Second, there are numerous ways to increase your credit score BEFORE you apply for your home loan.
- HUD’s number one recommendation is to reduce your debt as much as possible. Start by reducing your current spending. This will not only help you have less debt, but it will also help you have more money to pay down your current debts. Start small, perhaps purchasing one less coffee a week or choosing water instead of the soda or martini. These small sacrifices now will add up to big wins later. We recommend TrueBill as an app that can help find hidden savings by canceling subscriptions you don’t use anymore or negotiating your existing subscriptions down. It can also help you develop and stick to a budget!
- Pay all your bills on time. Set up auto payments to avoid late payments.
- Use your credit card responsibly.
When you have your debt in a manageable place…
It might already feel like you are barely making it. But it has been proven that setting aside even small amounts can make it possible for you to save for a down payment on a home over time. Having funds in savings is also taken into consideration when getting pre-approved for a home loan (See why getting pre-approved is imperative). You don’t always need a large down payment when buying a home but you will need a good house fund saved up for ongoing maintenance and repairs.
Many experts suggest using a hidden savings or a “sinking fund” when saving for your down payment. This is an “out of sight out of mind” savings account. Once money goes in you don’t take it back out till you are ready. Make sure you keep it separate from your emergency fund or your short-term savings for expenses. Set small attainable goals that make you feel accomplished rather than the large goal that might feel daunting and overwhelm you. Are you ready for the challenge?
See how long it takes the average person earning a medium-income in America to save for a down payment here.
In conclusion, get some professionals on your team by talking with a lender (ask your trusted Windermere Broker for recommendations) if you don’t have an agent contact us here and we will get you connected, build credit, and start saving!