By Rey Post, Associate Broker, Sotheby’s International Realty & Host of the “All Things Real Estate” Radio Show
October 22, 2017
Last week I suggested some thoughts about issues associated with selling a home. Today, I want to go to the other side of the equation and speak to what may be on the minds of people when they are contemplating the purchase of a home.
An article in realtor.com offers some great advice about addressing top concerns that you may have as a new home buyer. This counsel might help you get past some home-buying fears and bring you closer to realizing the American Dream of home ownership.
Fear No. 1: ‘I’m afraid I can’t afford a home’
Some house hunters are possessed by worries that their entire savings account will get sucked into a black hole if they buy. Then they’ll never be able to afford vacations, or new clothes, or food beyond beans and rice or mac ‘n cheese ever again.
The reality: Depending on what and where you’re buying, you’re not likely to drain your savings account. There are many loan programs out there that can help first-time home buyers with down payment assistance, or that don’t require a severed arm and leg in order to get a mortgage.
The best way to determine how financially ready you are to buy a home is to talk to a loan officer, like my friend Scott Robinson, the Santa Fe Branch Manager at the Gateway Mortgage Group (go to: gatewayloan.com/branches/santa-fe-nm/). Alternatively, you can also enter your income, debts, and other info in realtor.com®’s home affordability calculator to see exactly how much you can afford to spend on a home without going broke.
Fear No. 2: ‘I’m worried I won’t be able to buy a home I actually like’
The current economic climate may lead some buyers to believe that buying means they’ll end up living in a version of a “Saw” movie set—a windowless pit with exposed plumbing. Fact is, interest rates are low, allowing homeowners to snag a great deal and pay less over the course of their loan. Now the inventory of homes remains at a low level in Santa Fe—and in most areas around the country—so searching for the right home will take some time and energy. And if you see something you really like, make sure you are ready to move on making an offer, since there are probably several people thinking the same thing at the same moment.
Fear No. 3: ‘What if I buy a money pit?’
We’ve all seen that movie of the same name where Tom Hanks’s life and bank account are shredded, thanks to a rapidly disintegrating old house. But hey, that’s just a movie—most houses aren’t money pits, and even if there are potential issues lurking in the shadows, like a leaking pipe, you can do plenty to protect yourself. Before the sale, hire a good home inspector, like Jeff Brown of WIN Home Inspection (go to: santafe.wini.com). Jeff will be able to see signs of water damage, or any electrical and plumbing red flags. A home inspector will also advise you on potential repair costs, which can provide leverage for you as you go through a transaction with the sellers of the home. Next week, I am working with Jeff Brown on a home inspection here in Santa Fe for buyer clients of mine from California. They can’t attend the inspection, but Jeff offers a terrific service of electronically summarizing what he sees at any house he inspects, including pictures of potential problems.
Fear No. 4: ‘I’m worried I’ll overspend’
The asking price for a house may seem like an unholy amount of money. But keep in mind, that’s just what the sellers are asking for—what they get could be a totally different picture. Any good Realtor can help guide you to a realistic offer. A good broker will know the price points of the areas you’re targeting and can back them up with historical data and comps. Since you can search the prices of homes that recently sold in any area, it’s easier to find out what the neighbors paid and gain better insight before you place an offer.
Fear No. 5: ‘It’s just safer to rent’
Sure, renting means you aren’t trapped in one place, as you are with homeownership. Yet rent money disappears without allowing you to build any equity over time. In fact, by paying about $100 a month more, many renters could actually own their own home—and receive tax deductions. If in doubt, use a rent vs. buy calculator (find it at realtor.com) to crunch the numbers and see whether it’s renting, or buying that wins out in your area.
Learn more about this topic and also pick up additional news by joining us each Sunday on the “All Things Real Estate” radio show (12-2pm Mountain Time) on Santa Fe’s 1260 KTRC-AM, or via streaming at the “Listen Now” link at ATREradio.com.