Your first steps in buying a Boston condo
In June 2020, the number of first-time homebuyers accounted for 35% of the existing homes sold, a trend that’s been building steadily throughout the year. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR):
“The share of first-time buyers increased in March through June—right into the heart of the pandemic period and the surge in unemployment—and is now trending higher than the 29% to 32% average in past years since 2012.” (See graph below):
Why the rise in first-time homebuying?
NAR continues to say:
“The major factor is, arguably, low mortgage rates. As of the week ended July 16, the 30-year fixed mortgage rate dropped to 2.98%. With rates so low that are locked in under a 30-year mortgage, the typical mortgage payment, estimated at $1,036, has fallen below the median rent, at $1,045. For potential home buyers who were thinking of purchasing a home anyway before the pandemic outbreak and who are likely to remain employed, the low mortgage rate may be the clincher.”
Clearly, historically low mortgage rates are encouraging many to buy. With the average mortgage payment now estimated at a lower monthly cost than renting, it’s a great time for first-time homebuyers to enter the market. According to the Q2 2020 Housing Trends Report from the National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB):
“Eighty-four percent of Gen Z’s planning to buy a home are first timers, compared to 68% of Millennials, 52% of Gen X’s, and 21% of Boomers. Looking at results by region shows that over 60% of prospective buyers in the Northeast and South are buying a home for the first time. The share is above 55% in the Midwest and West.”
There are, however, challenges for first-time condo buyers. A recent survey conducted by NeighborWorks America also notes that understanding the homebuying process may be the most significant barrier for many hopeful homeowners:
“Homeownership is a particular challenge for many, despite high levels of interest. Americans believe there are many benefits to homeownership and half of non-owners will seek information about the process in the next few years…a large share of non-owners say the process is too challenging and only a minority know where to find advice if they wanted it. And although many would seek the guidance of community and non-profit programs, only one in three non-owners are aware of such services.”
If you’re among the first-time homebuyers who feel the process is complicated, you’re not alone. If you’re not sure where to begin or you simply want help in figuring out how to save for a home, finding a trusted real estate advisor to work with is a critical step toward your success. A real estate professional can help you understand the process, review your current situation, and guide you with a plan to help you to feel confident when buying a home.
If you’re interested in purchasing a Boston real estate and need help getting started, let’s connect today so you can take advantage of the support available to guide you through each step of the way. In the meantime, listed below are some steps you should take to start the process.
Because determining how much money you have available for the down payment and closing costs affects almost every aspect of buying a Boston condo – including how you write your purchase offer, the loan programs you qualify for, and shopping for interest rates.
If you only have enough available for a minimum down payment, your choices of loan program will be limited to only a few types of mortgages. If someone is giving you a gift for all or part of the down payment, your options are also limited. If you have enough for the down payment but need the lender or seller to cover all or part of your closing costs, this further limits your options. If you borrow all or a portion of the down payment from your 401K or retirement plan, different loan programs have different rules on how you qualify.
Of course, if you have enough for a large down payment, then you have lots of choices.
Your loan choices include such varied programs as conventional fixed-rate loans, adjustable-rate mortgages, buydowns, VA, FHA, graduated payment mortgage, and all the varieties of each.
A very important reason you need to have at least some idea of your down payment is for shopping for interest rates. Some loan programs charge a slightly higher interest rate for minimal down payments. Plus, the interest rates for different loan programs are not the same. For example, conventional, VA, and FHA all offer fixed-rate loans. However, the rates vary from one program to another.
If you shop lenders by phone, the loan officer will be able to tell you which programs fit and quote your rates accordingly. However, if you are shopping on the Internet, you have to develop some idea of your loan program on your own.
Another reason you need to have a clue about your down payment is that it affects how you write your offer to purchase a home. Not only are you required to put your down payment information in the offer, but also different loan programs have different rules that also affect how you write your offer. This is especially important when dealing with FHA and VA loans.
If you are asking the seller to pay all or part of your closing costs, you have to be certain your loan program allows what you are asking. For smaller down payments, lenders allow the seller to pay less closing costs than for larger down payments. Some loan programs will allow a seller to pay certain types of costs, but not others.
Finally, your down payment also affects your ability to qualify for a loan. When you make a small down payment, lenders are fairly strict about having you conform to their underwriting guidelines. For larger down payments, they will tend to make allowances or exceptions to the rules.
As you can see, the down payment affects every choice you make when you buy a Boston condo. Although you should look at ads, familiarize yourself with neighborhoods, learn about prices, and read as much as you can – when you get ready to take action – the first thing you should do is figure out how much money you have available for the purchase
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