Understanding The Cost Of Homeownership

You’re thinking about becoming a homeowner for the first time. What steps do you take in preparation, and what are some homeownership costs? 

Start With A Plan

Start by creating a realistic budget. Jot down your current expenses like car loans, monthly credit card payments and grocery expenses. But what new costs will you need to account for? 

  • Property taxes – Search local tax records on like properties to get an idea of the cost.
  • Homeowner’s insurance – A Mel Foster insurance agent can provide an estimate.
  • Utilities – Credit counseling agencies claim that owners spend 5-10% of their annual income on utilities, including electric, water, gas, garbage, cable and streaming.

Prepare So You’ll Be Ready

Take steps that will simplify the buying process when the time is right to begin your search.

  • Find a Mel Foster Co. agent and communicate what you’re looking for.
  • Continue to set money aside, so you have a down payment.
  • Check your credit score and work to improve it. 
  • Get pre-approved for a mortgage so financing won’t hold up a sale down the road.

Financial Assistance Programs Are Available

First-time buyers often have access to state programs, tax breaks and federally backed loans that can be approved even if you don’t have the minimum down payment. For example, take time to search DPA (Down Payment Assistance) loan options that can help cover the upfront costs of a down payment. Government-sponsored and private programs can help you pay closing costs, which often represent 3-6% of the total loan amount.

Find more tips for homeowners.

Go In As A Winner

Making an offer is a huge commitment and you need an agent on your side to come up with terms and an offer price. You might know how much house you can afford, based on your loan pre-approval, but knowing how much you should pay is a different story.

Your agent is an expert in local market conditions and has data to help you settle on a fair offer price. Reviewing comparable properties that have sold in the neighborhood is a solid tool to determine your offer price. This information is readily available to your agent.

Sellers have a reason for wanting, or needing, to sell their home. By asking the right questions during an open house, you can get a good feel for what will motivate the seller to accept your offer. Your Mel Foster Co. agent can help you prepare questions in advance to determine if price, timing or contract terms are most important to the sellers. This knowledge will give you leverage when negotiating.

Once you make the offer, it is customary to leave earnest money with the seller or seller’s agent. In a seller’s market, the buyer should put down a solid deposit to entice the seller to accept their offer. On the other hand, if it’s a buyer’s market, a larger earnest money deposit may prompt the seller to accept a lower purchase price.
Your agent is your advocate, looking out for your best interest to make sure you don’t overpay for a property or agree to terms out of fear of losing the house of your dreams. Rely on your agent to make sure you come to the table with a winning offer the sellers will accept.


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