The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reports that the median price for a home is $270,900, certainly no small chunk of change. After asking yourself, “What price home can I afford?” you’ll want to be sure to stick to that number, and ideally even less to provide some wiggle room for unexpected expenses.
Get a Good Buyers’ Agent
Getting a good buyers’ agent is just about guaranteed to save you some money. Their expertise in the business is essential for getting the best deal and making sure the entire process goes smoothly – plus, the buyer doesn’t pay the commission, the seller does. An experienced realtor will be representing you and can negotiate things in the contract to help save you money in multiple ways.
Find the best agent by getting referrals, perhaps talking to your lender, family, co-workers, neighbors, and friends. You want someone who will be a good fit personally as well as being familiar with the type of home you’re looking for, whether it’s a starter home or a luxury estate.
Improve Your Credit
The higher your credit score is, the less you’re going to pay over the life of your home loan. There are a number of things you can do to increase that score quickly before applying, including paying down debt like credit card balances to improve your credit utilization ratio which accounts for 30% of your total FICO score – avoid closing accounts, however, as it affects your utilization ratio and can also decrease your score. Ideally, your balances should be less than 15% of your credit limits. Don’t apply for any new credit accounts or loans, as hard inquiries makeup 10% of your score and can ding it for several months or more.
Pay 20% Down
While 20% down is a lot of money, there’s a reason that’s typically the recommended amount for a down payment. Over the long haul, it’s going to save you quite a bit as you won’t have to pay private mortgage insurance (PMI) on your mortgage loan which can add up to thousands of dollars on a 30-year home loan term.
Lower Your Closing Costs
Closing costs, which include things like attorneys fees, appraisal fees, lender fees, escrow fees, home inspection, property taxes and more, are generally anywhere from 2 to 5% of the sales price of the home, which could mean $15,000 on top of that $300,000 price tag. One of the best ways to save money is to get that skilled buyer’s agent to help you lower closing costs by negotiating with the seller’s agent. If the seller is motivated to move quickly, perhaps for a job or other personal reasons, they may even cover the closing costs resulting in significant savings.