You're Ready to Buy Your First Home. Now What?
From USAA, Author Greg Jaeger.
Spring is a busy time of year. The school year is coming to an end, summer vacation planning is in full swing, and for millions of Americans, it’s the most popular time of year to buy a home.
The thought of buying a new home may seem overwhelming, but the reality is if you are looking to join the 64 percent of Americans who are homeowners, the home buying adventure is one of the most exciting and significant in your life.
To make your home buying journey as quick, smooth and painless as possible, we’ve put together our top tips for the 2017 season.
1. Interest rates are on the rise – but are still some of the lowest in history.
It is more than likely that interest rates will increase again by the end of this year. However, even a 4.5 percent interest rate is historically low and should not be the reason that you delay purchasing a home. In fact, experts predict rates will reach above five percent in 2018, which might make 2017 the best year to make your move.
2. More millennials are buying homes than you think.
Contrary to what Saturday Night Live tells us, not all millennials live in their parents’ basement. In fact, they represent a whopping 68 percent of first-time homebuyers, and over 64 percent bought their first home with less than a 20 percent down payment.
Putting a 20 percent down payment on a house is not feasible for many people, but that doesn't mean you can't own a home. With VA loans or low down payment assistance programs, there are plenty of options to make your home purchase a reality. Work with a mortgage expert, and make sure you explore all of the financing options available to you.
3. Homes won't stay on the market for long.
One in four Americans – nearly 59 million – say they are considering buying a home this year. As the demand for housing increases, the competition will become greater. In 2016, homes were on the market for 52 days on average, a full week less than the 2015 average and the shortest average time since 2009. We wouldn't expect 2017 to be any different. In fact, as more buyers continue to enter the market and with the prospect of interest rates rising, homes may sell more quickly than we've seen in the last few years.
4. The market is unpredictable.
We can always get a general idea of how the market is going to behave, but the bottom line is that it changes every day. If you like a house or a property, feel that it is the best decision for you and your family, and your finances line up, there is no reason to wait. Make an offer.
5. Real estate agents are your friends.
Although buying a home can be stressful, working with a real estate agent will help you feel confident that you are really getting the best deal on your home. Since they are familiar with the local neighborhoods, housing market and your needs, they can be your best advocate and biggest resource when it comes to finding a new home for the price you can afford.
Spring is often the time many people begin their new home search. Although rising interest rates may look intimidating, it is important to remember that they are still at historic lows and that should not stop you from looking to buy. If you're ready to jump into the market, remember these tips and that USAA is here to help members every step of the way.
About the Author: Greg Jaeger is president of USAA Residential Real Estate Services and a former real estate agent. He leads USAA’s Real Estate Rewards Network, which is USAA’s proprietary member relocation program.