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Why a Condo May Be a Great Option for Your First Home

Having a hard time finding a first home that’s right for you and your wallet? Well, here’s a tip – think about condominiums, or condos for short.

They’re usually smaller than single-family homes, but that’s exactly why they can be easier on your budget. According to the latest data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), condos are typically less expensive than single-family homes (see graph below):

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So, if you’re comfortable with a smaller space and want to buy your first home this year, adding condos to your search might be easier on your wallet.

Besides giving you more options for your home search and maybe fitting your budget better, living in a condo has a bunch of other perks, too. According to Rocket Mortgage:

“From community living to walkable urban areas, condos are great options for first-time home buyers and people looking to enjoy homeownership without extensive upkeep.”

Let’s dive into a few of the draws of condos for first-time buyers from Bankrate:

  • They require less maintenance. Condos are great if you want to own your place but don’t want to mow the lawn, shovel snow, or fix the roof. Your real estate agent can help explain any associated fees and details for the condos you’re interested in.
  • They allow you to start building equity. When you buy a condo, you build equity and your net worth as you make your mortgage payments and as your condo’s value goes up over time.
  • They often come with added amenities. Your condo might come with access to amenities like a pool, dog park, or parking. And the best part? You don’t have to take care of any of them.
  • They provide you with a sense of community. Buying a condo means you’ll be living close to other people, which is nice if you enjoy having neighbors around and making friends. Many condo communities hold fun events like barbecues and parties during holidays for everyone to enjoy.

Remember, your first home doesn’t have to be the one you stay in forever. The important thing is to get your foot in the door as a homeowner so you can start to gain home equity. Later on, that equity can help you buy another place if you need something different.

Ultimately, owning and living in a condo is a lifestyle choice. And if it’s one that appeals to you, they could provide the added options you need in today’s market.

Bottom Line

It might be a good idea to think about condos in your home search. If you’re ready to see what’s out there, get in touch with a local real estate agent today.

The Top 2 Reasons To Consider a Newly Built Home

When you’re planning a move, it’s normal to wonder where you’ll end up and what your future home is going to look like. Maybe you’ve got a specific picture of that house in your mind. But unless you came into this process knowing you want to buy a newly built home, you may not have pictured new home construction.

A trusted real estate agent can help walk you through these two reasons you may want to reconsider that.

1. Adding Newly Built Homes Could Give You More Options

There are two types of homes on the market: new and existing. A newly built home refers to a house that was just built or is under construction. An existing home is one a previous homeowner has already lived in. Right now, the inventory of existing homes is tight. But there may be options for you on the new home side of things.

Data from the Census and the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows that newly built homes are a bigger part of today’s housing inventory than the norm (see graph below):

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From 1983 to 2019 (the last normal year in the market), newly built homes made up only 13% of the total inventory of homes for sale. But today that number has climbed to over 33%.

Rest assured, after over a decade of underbuilding, builders aren’t overdoing it today. Even with an increase in new construction today, there’s still a significant housing shortage overall. But for you, the uptick in new builds can be a game changer because it gives you more options for your search.

2. Newly Built Homes May Be More Affordable Than You’d Think

You may still be wondering if a new build could really be an option for you. If you’ve previously written them off because you thought they would be out of your budget, consider this. The price gap between a newly built home and an existing house is shrinking. Here’s why.

Builders are going to build what’s in demand. And they know people need more options right now, especially ones that are smaller and potentially more affordable. So, they’re focusing on building smaller homes at lower price points. The graph below shows the price difference between new and existing homes is shrinking as that happens:

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As LendingTree explains:

In the past, newly built homes have been much more expensive than existing homes — but that gap has been getting smaller recently. In some places today, you may find that the cost to build versus buy is roughly the same.”

And an article from CNBC says:

“While new builds are still sold for slightly more than existing homes, the price gap has significantly narrowed . . .”

Not to mention, some builders are even offering price cuts and mortgage rate buy-downs right now to sweeten the deal. Today there are many reasons new builds may be worth considering. Other buyers sure seem to think so. As Freddie Mac says:

“As the supply of existing homes for sale remains low and home prices continue to rise, more buyers are choosing to purchase new homes than in previous years.”

Just know that buying a newly built home isn’t the same as buying an existing one. Builder contracts have different fine print. So, partner with a local agent who knows the market, builder reputations, and what to look for in those contracts so you have an expert on your side to help you explore this option.

Bottom Line

If you want to find out what builders are doing in your area, connect with a real estate agent. And if you’re willing to cast a wider net to open up your options even more, that agent can talk to you about broadening your search to include other towns nearby.

Tips for Younger Homebuyers: How To Make Your Dream a Reality

If you’re a member of a younger generation, like Gen Z, you may be asking the question: will I ever be able to buy a home? And chances are, you’re worried that’s not going to be in the cards with inflation, rising home prices, mortgage rates, and more seemingly stacked against you.

While there’s no arguing this housing market is challenging for first-time homebuyers, it is still achievable, especially if you have professionals on your side.

Here are some helpful tips you may get from a pro.

1. Explore Your Options for a Down Payment

If a down payment is your #1 hurdle, you may have options to give your savings a boost. There are over 2,000 down payment assistance programs designed to make homeownership more achievable. And, that’s not the only place you may be able to get a helping hand. While it may not be an option for everyone, 49% of Gen Z homebuyers got money from loved ones that they used toward a down payment, according to LendingTree.

And chances are you won’t need to put 20% down (unless specified by your loan type or lender). So be sure to work with a trusted mortgage professional to explore your options, find out how much you’ll really need, and learn about any guidelines on getting a gift from loved ones.

2. Live with Loved Ones To Boost Your Savings

Another thing a number of Gen Z buyers are doing is ditching their rental and moving back in with friends or family. This can help cut down your housing costs so you can build your savings a whole lot faster. As Bankrate explains:

“. . . many have opted to stop renting and live with family in order to boost their savings. Thirty percent of Gen Z homebuyers move directly from their family member’s home to a home of their own, according to NAR.”

3. Cast a Broad Net for Your Search

When you’ve saved up enough, here’s how a pro will help you approach your search. Since the supply of homes for sale is still low and affordability is tight, they’ll give you strategies and avenues you may not have considered to open up your pool of options.

For example, it’s usually more affordable if you consider a rural or suburban area versus an urban one. So, while the city may be livelier and more energetic, the cost of living may be reason enough to look at something further out. And if you consider smaller homes and condos or townhouses, you’ll give yourself even more ways to break into the market. As Colby Stout, Research Analyst at Bright MLS, explains:

“Being flexible on the types of home (e.g., a condo or townhome versus a single-family home) and exploring more affordable neighborhoods is important for first-time buyers.”

4. Take a Close Look at Your Wants and Needs

And lastly, an agent can help you really think about your must-have’s and nice-to-have’s. Remember, your first home doesn’t have to be your forever home. You just need to get your foot in the door to start building equity. If you want to buy, you may find making some compromises is worth it. As Chase says:

“An open-minded approach to house-hunting may be one way for Gen Z homebuyers to maintain some edge. This could mean buying in areas that are less expensive. Differentiating needs vs. wants may help in this area as well.”

An agent will help you prioritize your list of home features and find houses that can deliver on the top ones. And they’ll be able to explain how equity can benefit you in the long run and make it possible to move into that dream home down the line.

Bottom Line

Real estate professionals have expertise on what’s working for other buyers like you. Lean on them for tips and advice on ways you can get ready to buy. As Directors Mortgage says, with that support you can make it happen:

 

The path to homeownership may not be a straightforward one for Gen Z, but it’s undoubtedly within reach. By adopting the right strategies, like exploring down payment assistance programs and sharing living costs with relatives, you can bring your dream of owning a home closer to reality.”

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