BOB UPTON, Realtor®, CBR's Blog
Saving for a down payment on a house can seem like an insurmountable challenge to first-time homebuyers. You don’t have the benefit of equity built from owning previous homes, and most, if not all, of your income could be tied up in other places like paying rent and bills.
If this sounds like you, don’t worry--you’re not alone. The good news is that there are some other things you might try before giving up on saving for a down payment.
In today’s post, we’re going to discuss a few techniques for saving for a down payment that you might not yet have thought of, and talk about how to can start saving sooner rather than later.
1. Know your options
Many first-time buyers aren’t aware of all of the different mortgage types that may be available to them. VA loans, USDA loans, and more are all available to buyers who don’t have a large down payment saved up.
There’s also the common myth that your down payment needs to be at least 20% percent of the cost of the home. However, this number is more like an ideal figure that will allow you to avoid paying private mortgage insurance (PMI).
Before determining how much you need to save, make sure you understand all of your options.
2. Learn the art of budgeting
Most of us use the term “budget” as a vague word that means the amount of money we can spend.
The true point of a budget, however, is to gain a detailed understanding of where your money goes and to develop a plan.
One good method of budgeting is to do what budget experts call, “giving every dollar a job.” This means that you know where each dollar o your paycheck will go.
There are many tools available for you to use when budgeting. You can use a free app like a spreadsheet from Google Sheets, or a service that connects you your bank account like Mint. Mint will also let you set goals (such as saving for a down payment) so you can track your progress.
3. Asking for a raise
Depending on how long you’ve been at your job and your work performance, it might be time to ask your employer for a raise up front. Many employers are more than happy to reward hard work and dedication, but just don’t hand out money if they aren’t asked.
4. Start that side hustle
There are a lot of ways to earn extra money in a service economy. From waiting tables at night to delivering packages for Amazon, and giving lifts in your car for Uber, there are numerous ways to earn some extra cash in the evenings.
Just remember that you want this project to be something that’s enjoyable or interesting, otherwise it’s easy to burn out from overwork.
5. See if you have employee assistance options
Some employers offer housing assistance programs to their employees as a work benefit. If you haven’t flipped through your HR packet in a while, now might be a good time to make sure you’re taking advantage of your options.
It's moving day. With all paper's signed and keys in hand, movers unload furniture and boxes into your new digs. But nothing seems to fit. Move just one thing, and everything is out of place. Your old furniture seems bulky—or dwarfed.
It’s Just. Not. Right. Busting the budget to buy new furniture is out of the question, so what do you do?
Clear the slate
If the weather allows, or your garage is available, move everything out of the room. Once the floor is empty, draw out a rough floor plan with a half-inch to one-foot scale or use an online floorplan option—many online furniture retailers offer floorplan tools on their websites. Measure every wall, window, and doorway, twice!
Cut rectangles or circles the to represent furniture. Use the exact same scale you used for the floor plan. If you're using an online tool, choose sample furniture as close to the size and shape of yours available. Then, arrange and rearrange the most important or largest pieces until they fit.
Try unusual options
If the sofa always sits against the wall under the windows, try moving it into the room so that the back creates a walkway. Place loveseats opposite rather than at right angles to the sofa and place a coffee table between them. When the predominant piece is the entertainment center, consider if it fits at an angle. Group furniture for watching television separately from a conversation area or study area. Anchoring larger pieces on an area rug rather than against a wall gives a room depth and dimension.
Wait to hang art
Once you've placed the larger pieces. Live with them in place for a few days before you add wall art and décor. Lean larger artwork against first one wall and then another to see how light plays off the surface. Change up how you've always done it. Perhaps a painting that formerly hung in your family room could go in a bedroom instead. Group smaller framed art together to create dramatic visual appeal.
Move smaller pieces around
After a few days with decorative tables, bookcases, or lamps in one location, try moving them to a new position to see if it works better. If something feels congested or cramped, move it—or remove it. Conversely, when your new space feels empty, consider what might fill that gap. Avoid adding furniture just to take up space. You might find a stack of floor pillows, or a minor adjustment in location works better.
Buy to fit
When you’re sure of the spaces left over, save up to buy just the thing that both fits your area and provides you joy. After all, you'll be in your new home for several years, so you have plenty of time to fill the space with items you love.
If you’re completely frustrated with making your furniture fit, consider hiring a professional decorator or organizer. With a fresh eye, what you already have might just be all you need.
After you accept an offer on a home, you likely will only have a few weeks to pack up your belongings and vacate the premises. As such, there are many questions that home sellers need to consider at this point, including:
1. Where am I going to live?
If you haven't figured out where you're going to live after your home closing, there is no need to panic. Consider all of your potential living options now, and you can plan accordingly.
Oftentimes, friends and family members may be willing to provide you with a temporary place to live. These loved ones may enable you to stay in their houses until you buy a new residence. Or, in some instances, you may be able to permanently move in with friends and family members.
On the other hand, if you enjoy being a homeowner, you may want to kick off a home search right away. This will enable you to find a new place to live in the city or town of your choice. Also, if you work quickly, you may be able to finalize your home purchase around the same time that you sell your current house.
2. What is the homebuyer's next step?
In most cases, a homebuyer will have a set amount of time to schedule a home inspection after you accept his or her offer. Once the home inspection is complete, the buyer will receive a report that provides insights into the condition of your house.
For home sellers, a home inspection can be stressful. If a property inspector discovers problems with a residence, a buyer may choose to walk away from a home purchase or ask a seller to complete various home renovations.
When it comes to selling a house, it pays to be honest. If you provide honest responses to a homebuyer's questions about your residence, you can help the buyer make an informed purchase decision. Plus, with this approach, you can minimize the risk that a home inspection may lead a buyer to rescind his or her offer.
3. What will I need to do to finalize the home sale?
The time between accepting a home offer and reaching the closing date may seem endless. However, a patient home seller will be able to stay calm, cool and collected, even if challenges arise along the way.
As a home seller, you should try to do everything you can to reach the finish line of a property sale. If you maintain consistent communication with a real estate agent, you can seamlessly navigate all stages of the home selling cycle.
A real estate agent works on a home seller's behalf and will do everything possible to minimize potential pitfalls. Thus, this housing market professional is happy to respond to a home seller's questions to ensure this individual is fully supported in the weeks and days leading up to a home closing.
Collaborate with a real estate agent, and you can receive plenty of support throughout the home selling journey.
Looking to buy a house in the near future? If your answer is "Yes," you may want to start reviewing housing market data. That way, you can gain the insights that you need to make data-driven decisions throughout the homebuying journey.
Ultimately, there are many housing market data that you'll want to assess as you prepare to buy a house, such as:
1. Mortgage Interest Rates
Mortgage interest rates fluctuate constantly. As such, if mortgage interest rates are low, you may want to move quickly to capitalize on them.
Meeting with banks and credit unions generally is a great idea if you plan to buy a house. These financial institutions can keep you up to date about mortgage interest rates and help you get pre-approved for a mortgage. Then, once you have a mortgage in hand, you'll be ready to pursue your dream house.
2. Average Amount of Time That a House Stays on the Real Estate Market
Differentiating between a buyer's market and a seller's market often can be difficult. Fortunately, if you examine the average amount of time that houses are listed in your city or town, you may be able to determine whether you're preparing to enter a buyer's or seller's market.
In a buyer's market, houses may be listed for many weeks or months before they sell. Also, these houses may be sold below their initial asking prices.
Comparatively, in a seller's market, homes may be available for only days before they sell. Homes that are available in a seller's market may be sold at or above their initial asking prices as well.
3. Prices of Houses in Various Cities and Towns
If you're open to living in a variety of cities or towns, you'll want to evaluate the prices of houses in many areas. That way, you can narrow your house search accordingly.
Oftentimes, homes in big cities are more expensive than those in small towns. On the other hand, big cities may provide quick, easy access to a broad range of attractions and landmarks that you simply won't find in small towns.
If you are ready to check out housing market data and begin a home search, it pays to hire a real estate agent too. In fact, with a real estate agent at your side, you should have no trouble enjoying a quick, seamless homebuying experience.
A real estate agent is happy to provide you with a wealth of housing market data. Plus, a real estate agent will teach you the ins and outs of buying a house. He or she also will keep you up to date about new houses as they become available and negotiate with a seller's agent on your behalf to ensure you can acquire a terrific house at a fair price.
When it comes to buying a house, it helps to be informed. If you assess the aforementioned data, you can obtain comprehensive real estate market insights to help you throughout the homebuying journey.
No matter how much experience you have as a gardener, mistakes happen to everyone. Some gardening mistakes are actually avoidable. Below, you’ll find some of the most common gardening mistakes and how to stay clear of them. Next time around that you decide to plant, you’ll have an even greener thumb than you did the season before.
You Planted Too Early
When the springtime hits, it’s easy to feel eager to plant and get your crops going. Planting too early without proper grow cloths or warm enough temperatures can be completely detrimental to anything that is trying to grow.
Watering Too Much Or Two Little
There is a finite amount of water that’s required for plants to thrive. The general rule is for plants to receive about an inch of water per week. Plants that have not been watered enough will show certain signs including yellowing leaves and wilting leaves. Any fruits that are produced will be deformed. Be sure that you make up for the deficit of water during dry spells that occur by watering accordingly.
Plants that have been overwatered can also cause yellowing leaves. You don’t want your water to pool or cause puddles in the garden. If this happens, you’ll need to add a bit more organic matter to the soil itself.
Not Planting In A Bright Enough Place
It’s a basic scientific principle that plants need sunlight to grow properly. If you have planted things in the shade, they may not thrive. If you don’t have a sunny spot to plant your garden, try using portable gardening containers that you can move around. Shoot for at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day for your plants.
Weeds can obviously choke your crops, sucking moisture and food away from the plants. If you don’t actively work to eliminate weeds, your plants will suffer greatly. Eliminate weeds as soon as you spot them. Allowing one weed to flourish is to allow them all to take over! Mulching can be a great start in helping to keep weeds away. If any weeds are found after the mulch has been put down, be sure to move them promptly.
Planting Too Much
If you plant too much, space can become a problem. Focus on planting what you and your family like to eat and will actually use. This problem comes down to a matter of preference and taste. You don’t want to spend a ton of time gardening just to realize that you’ve completely wasted your efforts.
Keep in mind that there’s always something new to learn when it comes to gardening. Know that no matter what level of gardener you are mistakes are inevitable but not completely unavoidable.