There is nothing wrong with being a renter. One of the first and most pervasive myths about buying a home is that there is something not quite right about being a lifetime renter. You are made to feel that you are not a real adult or a fully vested citizen if you don’t own property. Of all the reasons to buy a home, this is probably the worst.
If you do buy a home with that reason in mind, you are probably going to make several other classic home-buying errors:
- Trying to keep up with the Joneses and buying too much house for your budget
- Buying a certain style of home for reasons of conformity
- Getting a traditional mortgage and paying a typical down payment just because it is traditional
Making these mistakes is the best way of ensuring that your dream home becomes a nightmare. You don’t want the perfect home. You want the perfect home for you. Here are a few tips on how to achieve that goal:
Forget the 20%
One of the more useful first time home buyer tips is to only pay 10% down and pay for private mortgage insurance (PMI). The conventional wisdom is that new buyers must pay 20% down and have a lower monthly bill. But 10% plus PIM can still net you a lower amount than what you would pay in rent, depending on where you live, of course.
Finding a flexible lender is the key. Some lenders such as Eagle Home Mortgage even have an app that lets you get started without going into a retail location. That is always a good sign that a lender is thinking outside of the box and moving past tradition.
Another mortgage tradition that needs to be rethought is the 30-year loan. Few people buy homes with the intention of living in it for the next 30 years. The average person moves between 11 and 16 times over the course of a lifetime. You have to think in terms of resale value and short-term equity. The perfect home for you starts with the perfectly customized loan.
The biggest home-buying mistake of all is thinking too big. The typical thinking is that one should purchase the biggest house they can afford. While this seems like a sensible approach on the surface, it is exactly the opposite of good stewardship. The better way to think is in terms of the smallest house in which you can comfortably live, and that serves your purposes.
There are many tangible benefits to living in a smaller house. The obvious one is that in most cases, it can save you a lot of money. Survival is when you spend what you can afford. Wealth is when you spend a lot less than you can afford.
There is also the matter of waste. What you can consume is different than what you should responsibly consume. Most SUVs on the road are occupied by a single person: the driver. They are not loaded to the gills with camping gear. And they never leave a perfectly manicured road. Don’t buy the SUV of houses just because you think you can.
Avoid the Fixer-upper
Those home-improvement shows make it look so easy. They lie. Don’t make the mistake of buying a home you don’t like thinking that you will convert it into your dream home over time. You won’t. Instead, you will be buying a perpetual project that you will never complete, and come to loathe as time goes on.
Most of those little projects you think you will save money on by doing yourself will end up having to be done by professionals. You will be saving no money, and actually be spending more over time. Instead, spend a little more time looking for the home that is right for you, and move-in ready from the start. That fixer-upper will never really be fixed up. And you will take a bath on resell value down the road.
A home is highly personal. So cast aside traditional notions of loans, size, and DYI ambitions. Only then will you buy the home that is truly right for you.