Written by Jaymi Naciri
Mortgage lender Fannie Mae just made a move to make homeownership more affordable, and it’s one of many things that can help you save some cash when buying a home. If you’re not taking advantage of every money-saving opportunity out there – and there are a lot of them – you’re just leaving money on the table.
1. Take advantage of new programs
The aforementioned Fannie Mae program “will now pay your closing costs, up to 3% of the price of the home—provided you take the mortgage giant’s home-buyer counseling course first,” said Realtor.com. Called the HomePath Ready Buyer program, it “allows first-time buyers (defined as those who have not owned a home in the past three years) to take an online course, get certified, and become eligible for what could amount to significant savings. For instance, on a $150,000 home, Fannie Mae could contribute up to $4,500 toward your closing costs—which typically range from 2.5% to 3% of a home’s price.”
2. Ask the seller to pay closing costs
In an appreciating market, you may have a hard time getting the seller to kick in—especially if they have other offers to consider. Make sure you ask your real estate agent for advice (and listen to it.) You don’t want to offend or amuse the seller into outright rejecting your offer.
3. Negotiate everything
Want the seller’s refrigerator or dining room set? Ask for it. Could be that they’re trying to get rid of them anyway.
4. That goes for new homes, too
If you’re buying a new home, you may not have a ton of negotiating power when it comes to the sales price, but you may when it comes to upgrades. If you love the wood floor or quartz counters in the model, you just may be able to get them thrown in at no extra cost.
5. Use your builder’s in-house lender
Another way to potentially save money on a new home is to use the builder’s in-house lender, if they have one. A builder can’t require you to use their lender, said Bankrate, but they may offer incentives to do so.
6. Fix up your credit
NEA Member Benefits found that poor credit can account for an extra $82,000 in interest on a $250,000 home loan. “The total interest paid for a home with a 630 score—nearly a quarter-million dollars over the lifetime of the loan—is enough money to buy a second house. There is always a cost to credit, and that cost can increase tremendously due to a low credit score.”
7. Shop for the best loan
Settling for the first loan that comes your way might not be the best bet. Different lenders offer different rates. Shop around to see what your best options are.
8. Get a co-signer
If you’re having trouble qualifying for a home at a low enough interest rate, a cosigner can help. “Part of that person’s income can be considered toward your loan amount regardless of whether the person will actually be living with you or helping you pay the bill,” said Investopedia.
9. Put 20 percent down
Twenty percent is the magic number when it comes to whether or not you have to pay Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI). PMI can add hundreds of dollars to your monthly payment, and can’t be removed until sufficient equity in your home has been realized. If you can swing 20 percent, it will save you money. If you can’t, try asking a family member for a gift or get down payment assistance, said Chase.
10. Buy a fixer-upper
A lesser-known FHA loan may present a great opportunity for those who are having a hard time finding an affordable home in a competitive market and who love a project.
This loan “not only covers the cost of buying the property, but also for remodeling expenses and closing costs allowed by the terms of your FHA home loan,” said the FHA. “The best part of these ‘fixer upper’ loans? The approved FHA loan amount also includes a percentage of the total remodeling costs (as spelled out in your submitted plan) set aside just in case there is extra work needed.”
11. Read the fine print
When you get your good faith estimate from your lender, read everything. There may be some miscellaneous fees that can be negotiated out. Click here for more information on what to look for.