(StatePoint) As a result of the recent housing crisis, many potential homebuyers, especially first-timers, are hesitant to enter the market. But if you’re holding back, evaluate why. Experts say your reasons may be based on myth.
“Buying a home is more affordable than ever for families with stable incomes and good credit,” says Christina Boyle, Vice President and Head of Single-Family Sourcing & Relationship Management, at Freddie Mac.
So before ruling out homeownership, get the facts. Boyle is offering some tips to help you sort fact from fiction.
• Myth: I need to make a big downpayment, as much as 20 percent, to get a mortgage.
• Fact: A 20 percent downpayment is not the golden rule. Generally you should expect to put down about five or 10 percent. Note however, you may be required to pay mortgage insurance if you make a downpayment of less than 20 percent.
When deciding whether homeownership is right for you, don’t forget to consider other expenses like closing costs, property taxes, and maintenance costs.
• Myth: I need perfect credit to buy a home and will never qualify for a loan.
• Fact: In response to the housing crisis, banks re-evaluated the criteria for lending money to help put buyers in a more financially comfortable position and ensure they can afford what they buy.
So while it’s true that getting a mortgage today requires a stronger credit history than in past years, you don’t need perfect credit. Keep in mind though, that the higher your score, the more options you have when looking for a mortgage.
• Myth: I don’t make enough money to own a home so I plan to rent for the long-term.
• Fact: In many areas of the country, it is more affordable to own a home than rent one, especially as rents are rising fast. With a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, you’ll have the certainty of knowing what your mortgage payment will be for 30 years, whereas rents could continue to rise.
Despite these facts, note that homeownership is not necessarily the right step for everyone. If you move frequently or don’t have time for home maintenance, renting might make more sense for your lifestyle.
• Myth: Mortgage rates are rising too fast and I’ve missed the window of opportunity to buy.
• Fact: While mortgage rates have risen over the past year, they are still at near historic lows, with a 30-year fixed mortgage under 4.5 percent at the start of 2014. These rates make homeownership very affordable.
For comparative purposes, in 2000, rates averaged eight percent; and in the 80s, they spiked to 18.5 percent. To put that in perspective, a mortgage payment on a $150,000 loan at today’s 4.5 percent is $760 per month, whereas in 2000, it would have been $1,100 (not including taxes and insurance).
Free home buying resources, such as worksheets, mortgage calculators, and overviews of the mortgage process are available at www.FreddieMac.com.
Considering homeownership? Don’t assume it’s out of reach. Educate yourself on your local market and reach out to a housing professional to get started.
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