After months of online searching and open house tours, you’ve finally found your dream home. There’s only one problem. The asking price is more than you plan to spend.
While cutting back on monthly expenses could help make room for a heftier mortgage payment, overspending can have long-term consequences. Paying more for a home than budgeted might require significant lifestyle changes such as fewer vacations, reduced entertainment spending, or even cause you to delay retirement.
Buying a home that doesn’t unnecessarily stretch your finances is easier said than done. A recent Zillow Group Report found that even buyers who stuck to their budget made sacrifices to do so. But the payoff might be worth it. Staying within a realistic home buying budget leaves enough money to achieve other financial goals.
Consider letting go of one or more of your wishlist items to make sure you stick to your home buying budget.
Lighten up on the desired finishes.
Bay windows, ceiling treatments, and skylights might be on your list of must-haves, but don’t let them stand in the way between you and the keys to your new home. You might be able to add these finishes after closing. Focus on structural requirements that you won’t be able to change instead of finishes. These might include vaulted ceilings or eight-foot doors.
Rethink your square footage requirements.
Buying your own home often means upgrading to a larger living space. Reconsider how much additional square footage you need. For example, does buying a four-bedroom house so visiting family members will have a place to stay during the holidays make financial sense? Is it worth a higher monthly mortgage payment for those rooms to sit empty 50+ weeks a year?
Remember that you may change jobs.
Choosing a home close to work seems like a smart move. Shorter commute times can help you regain productivity. Rather than sitting in your car or riding public transportation 10 or more hours per week, you can use some of those hours to get more done or sleep in longer. But what would happen if you had to change jobs shortly after you closed on your home? Expand your current definition of an ideal location by a mile or two. You might open yourself up to additional homes that fit your budget.
Look for homes that need some elbow grease.
You don’t have to buy a fixer-upper that needs a complete renovation to stay within your home buying budget. But homes that need a little TLC are often less expensive. Properties with weathered fencing, outdated cabinetry, or other less than desirable features can provide an opportunity to negotiate a lower sales price. After closing, you can perform a few DIY projects and ensure the home matches your personal style.
Seek homes that have been on the market for a while.
Ask your real estate agent to show you properties that meet your criteria but have been on the market longer than expected. Homes that don’t sell quickly may have little to do with their condition. A flooded market or sparse home staging could be the reason the house hasn’t sold before now. These homes might have motivated sellers willing to lower the asking price or negotiate on other things such as appliance upgrades, flooring, or landscaping.
Remember that your offer should be contingent upon a cleared home inspection. This can help ease your concern that the home sat on the market for an extended period due to a significant defect. If the seller doesn’t make repairs as stated in the contingency offer, you may walk away from the deal.
Staying within your home buying budget takes patience. Give yourself a few extra months to find a house you can afford. When the right home comes along, the wait will be worth it. Let Generations Federal Credit Union help you find a mortgage that meets your needs and budget. Speak with a Home Loan Specialist at 210-230-9380 today!