After 10 months of going to open houses, Amanda and John Stavinga, both 29, closed on a two-bedroom home in a Denver suburb in June that met most of their requirements and was in their price range.
"We were tired of putting money into rent instead of into an asset," John said.
Amanda, a health coach, and John, who works in public relations, are part of a generation that is buying homes later than baby boomers and Gen Xers. But they're making up ground: Millennials, or those born after 1980, are now the largest generation of homebuyers in America.
Here are three steps this couple took that helped them achieve their goal on their own and that could help you too:
Buying a home can be more expensive than you might think: You'll need funds saved for the down payment, closing costs, furnishing, and some left over for maintenance and other issues that can arise.
The Stavingas paid $439,000 for their home, which is just under the median price in Denver market of $450,000, according to Zillow. The couple put down 10%, or just under $44,000, and spent another $7,000 or so on closing costs.
Since they were funding their purchase on their own, they knew they had to be dedicated. "Early on, we started making automatic contributions to our savings accounts. This helped keep the money out of sight and out of mind, preventing us from spending it," John says.
While automating is a smart idea, you might need to put aside less money for the down payment than you think. There are a number of low down payment options mortgages, including the Federal Housing Administration's 3.5% down loan. The national median down payment is 7.6%, according to Attom Data Solutions.
The couple set a price range of $300,000 to $450,000, which is on the lower side for the high-cost Denver metro area.
During their home search, they were tempted to go above that price range, but they stayed disciplined and waited until they found the right home on their financial terms.
Now they're glad they didn't get suckered into paying more. "Don't rush into it. Make sure you're ready. You're always going to find a house that you want but is outside of your price range—stay true to what you want to spend," John said.
Just two months into their search, their $400,000 bid on a two-bedroom home was accepted. However, after the inspection, they discovered the home needed more than $40,000 in repairs. They ultimately decided to pull out.
"Remember, there is always another house," he says. In their case, they found the right place eight months later, and they say their new home is worth the wait.
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