Buying Your First Home

Thank you to everyone who joined us for the first-time home buyers session! And a special shout out to the Onyx members who shared their home-buying stories. The conversation was so expansive that it’s impossible to capture everything here, so in this recap we’ll share information related to the first-time home buying journey, and links to resources that can help you along the way.  Watch the replay video below to hear about everything else we discussed.

Are you facing challenges in making homeownership affordable? We understand that inflation and high housing costs have made it increasingly difficult to save for a down payment and closing costs. The good news is that there are various programs and resources available to help you achieve your dream of owning a home. Consider these resources: 

1. Explore Local, State, and Federal Programs
Take advantage of programs designed to make homeownership more attainable. For instance, the Good Neighbor Next Door program offers public servants, such as teachers, paramedics, and firefighters, the opportunity to purchase homes at below-market value, enabling them to live where they work. Additionally, state and local governments provide grants, loans, and forgivable second mortgage loans to eligible buyers, assisting with down payments and closing costs. Check out our list of programs to see what’s available in your area.

2. Consider Habitat for Humanity
Habitat for Humanity offers affordable homeownership opportunities to eligible buyers once they’ve put in a certain amount of ‘sweat equity,‘ i.e., volunteering with HfH and attending financial education courses. By volunteering and attending financial education courses, you can qualify for their homeownership program, putting you on the path to affordable homeownership.

3. Dealing with Rising Interest Rates
Rising interest rates can impact affordability. If high prices and interest rates are deterring you, consider our suggestion to “date the rate and marry the home.” In other words, if you find a house that you love and can afford, don’t wait. There’s no guarantee that prices or interest rates will decrease in the future, but you can always refinance if interest rates drop substantially. Historically low rates like 2-3 percent are unlikely to return soon. Plus, interest rates may decrease slowly while home prices continue to rise, potentially reducing any cost savings from lower interest rates. So, if you’re contemplating whether to buy, remember that there’s no better time than the present.

4. Shop Around for Lenders
Before committing to a lender, take the time to shop around. Credit unions often offer lower interest rates compared to traditional lenders. They might even provide 100% financing without requiring private mortgage insurance (PMI). Another option to consider is NACA (Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America), a nonprofit organization that offers below-market rates to increase access to budget-friendly homeownership opportunities.

As you can see, there is a wide variety of programs and resources you can tap into to make homeownership more affordable. That being said, we believe first-time buyers need one more thing in order to conduct a successful home search.
Finding the Perfect Realtor for Your Home Search

Navigating the current real estate market can be challenging, especially for buyers with limited experience. That’s why it’s crucial to dedicate time to finding the right realtor who can guide you through the process. A knowledgeable realtor offers more than just setting up home tours—they can provide invaluable assistance in variou #Recap s ways.

How skilled realtors support your home search 

1. Understanding Affordability
A reliable realtor will help you determine the type of home you can afford in the market, taking into account your budget constraints. They can explain the trade-offs you might need to make, such as considering different locations or amenities, ensuring you make informed decisions.

2. Inside Information
Access to crucial information about schools, taxes, zoning, and other local factors is vital when searching for homes. Your realtor will provide you with the inside scoop on these details, allowing you to make well-informed choices.

3. Advocacy and Negotiation
Throughout the negotiation and purchase process, your realtor will represent your best interests. They will guide you in asking the right questions, crafting a competitive offer, and navigating the intricacies of the negotiation phase, ensuring you secure a favorable deal. And finally…

4. Professional Referrals
A reputable realtor will have an extensive network of professionals in related fields. They can provide referrals to reliable service providers such as movers, painters, plumbers, and more. This assistance streamlines the process and ensures you have access to trusted resources once the sale is finalized. Now that we’ve outlined how invaluable an experienced realtor is, you may be wondering how to find one. Start by reaching out to your network. Ideally, you will get a recommendation from someone you trust; however if that isn’t possible, you could always connect with a realtor who can refer you to someone in that area. Ultimately, your goal is to find a realtor who listens to clients, is responsive to their needs, and represents their interests, rather than focusing on securing their next sales commission. Finding the perfect realtor is crucial for a successful home search. Take the time to research and interview potential candidates, ensuring their expertise aligns with your needs. If you’re currently in the market for a realtor or have any questions regarding the home buying process, feel free to reach out to the Onyx community. We’re here to support you every step of the way!


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