Dean Sarris' Blog
You've assessed your budget, changed your habits, and made spending cuts but you still need to reach your down payment faster. Consider these significant steps to help you get there.
- Take on a second part-time job. If your work schedule allows you to add a second job find a part-time option that will enable you to earn one or two thousand dollars more each month. If you are part of a couple, each partner can get a light part-time job without feeling overloaded. Bonus—occupying your time more does help lead to less spending and more saving! Tutor students, pet sit, or take a steady part-time gig!
- Move back home, move in with extended family, or get a roommate. If your family is on board with the changes you need to make to meet your financial goals, consider moving in with someone in your family to pay lower rent and save tens of thousands over one year. If family help isn't an option, consider getting a roommate or moving into a two-bedroom apartment and adding a roommate to lower your monthly rent.
- Review your belongings for big-ticket items you can sell. Do you live in an area with excellent public transportation? Consider selling your expensive, gas-guzzling car or getting out of your costly lease. Do either you or your spouse work at home, but you both own a car? See if you can help fund your savings by downsizing to one vehicle for the next year to save more.
- Sell unworn jewelry and have broken pieces melted down for cash.
- Skip vacations for a year, or even two! And during your vacation time, take on an extra job so when you head back to work you’ve earned a bit chunk to add to your savings kitty.
- If your owning a home in the near future is a top priority, take a break from your retirement fund at work and redirect those funds into your savings account. (Only take this step if you are completely committed to reaching your down payment goal within a year or two at most since you lose the value of compounding those funds toward your retirement for the life of the account.
- Direct all your tax refund and any annual bonuses into your savings!
Remember, this isn’t a forever deal. You’re not signing on for an austere life ongoing. It’s just temporary to reach a goal. Your real estate professional can help you get started by determining how much you need to set aside for your down payment.
Everyone wants to own a home of their own at some point in their lives. There is only one first home, and you don't get a second chance. Well, you get a second or third if you want, but that first experience can have a significant effect on how you feel about homeownership. So, here a just a few common sense tips. Unfortunately, common sense isn't always common.
First, slow down. There is no rush to buy that home. When you hurry, you put pressure on yourself to get it done, and you overlook things that can cost you time and money down the line. Sometimes family puts pressure on you to buy your first home so that you can start having babies and they don't want their babies living in a little apartment. Again remember, you are the one who has to live there and the one that has to pay for it. So all those people putting pressure to buy really should not have that kind of influence unless they commit to the full responsibility of the homeownership.
Second, be realistic about the cost. You commonly hear that it is cheaper to own than to rent, and depending on the point of view that can be true. Most people are saying that based on just principle and interest. But have you ever driven through a nice neighborhood and some houses are really kept looking nice, and then there are those houses that the yard is a mess? The grass is not green, flowers and maybe even trees are dying — the actual physical house kind of looks a little run down. You think "this is your home, why are you not taking care of it?" Well, there is a thing that as renters you never have to deal with, and it is called upkeep. Also, utilities like water can get expensive.In a lot of cases, the homeowners bought as much as they could afford in payments without having anything extra. So now they do not have the money for the excess water to water the grass or buy new plants or clean the shutters or fix a window. Take time to understand what your budget is currently. Could you right now—outside of your rent—put an extra twenty to thirty percent of your income into a savings account and have it not affect your food budget? If you can START. RIGHT. NOW. Remember you do have to have a down payment too, so if you don't have it in hand, you have to start saving for it.
Third, look at homes. Do not engage a realtor yet! They have one job, and it is to sell you a house. Right now you are not to that point, so do not put that pressure on yourself. Start driving around neighborhoods and start observing different things about them. Start getting into the habit of seeing the little details of each home. Go online Friday night and find the OPEN HOUSES that are going to take place on Saturday and Sunday. Determine which ones you would like to see. Look at ones that are way out of your price range, ones in your price range, and then do not miss the ones that are way below your price range. Remember it is better to be way below your budget than at the very top end. As you go through each of these homes, do not just wander through. Take your time to look at the details. Not only the cool aspects but the little things that show that might be wrong, a link in a sink, marks in the walls and doors. These opens houses not only help you figure out what you do or do not want, but they also help you not to miss things when you are ready to buy and find the house that you would like to purchase. There is nothing worse than buying a home and after you moved in you start seeing things that are an issue that you do not remember being there before you purchased.
It is all about the details and since you have never purchased a home before you need practice paying attention to the details so you will be the best buyer you can be when you have your downpayment ready.
One last note, when you visit these open houses, the realtor usually wants a contact number for follow-up. If you are not ready for that pressure, let them know you're just in the preliminary stages of looking. A home could be the biggest purchase of your life, so go into it relaxed and prepared.