For many people, buying a home is a rite of passage into adulthood and a vital component of the American dream. However, if you’re trying to buy a home into today’s market, it may feel like more of a nightmare.
Utah ranks No. 1 in the nation for home growth, according to data released by the U.S. Census Bureau, and competing with the thousands of others in the house hunt can make prospective first-time homebuyers feel like they’ll be trapped in their parents’ basements or be forced to rent for the rest of their lives.
The good news is that with University of Utah researchers predicting a more stable market in the near future and with new programs emerging to make homebuying more affordable, there’s hope for aspiring homeowners in the beehive state.
Here are five ways first-time Utah homebuyers can find a home in this seller’s market.
Buying a home requires money – and if you’re like most Americans, you’re going to need a little help to foot the bill.
Getting preapproved for a home loan will give you more confidence in the home buying process because you’ll be secure in the amount you know you can offer. Your mortgage lender can give you a preapproval letter, which is appealing to sellers who don’t want to waste their time negotiating with people who can’t afford to buy their home.
Just be sure to act quickly because most preapprovals are only valid for 60 to 90 days. It's also important to note that even with a home loan, you'll want to have some money saved up for a down payment.
Research different homebuyer programs
One advantage you have as a first-time homebuyer is access to special national and local programs that make buying a home easier for those who have low credit scores or may struggle to make a down payment.
This year, Ivory Homes announced the Workforce Housing Priority Initiative, which is focused on assisting professions that provide a public service to first-time homebuyers. The program, taking place outside any government obligation, reserves the most affordable homes for critical members of Utah’s workforce.
“In a climate of increasing housing prices and affordability challenges, we have a duty to those serving our communities and to assist them in becoming homeowners,” said Clark Ivory, CEO of Ivory Homes. “We are committed to helping address Utah’s housing affordability challenges by supporting our educators, public safety professionals, veterans, members of our military, and the construction tradespeople that build our homes.”
First-time homebuyers and Utahans whose careers focus on public service can sign up on the priority list online.
Decide on a down payment
Many potential homebuyers incorrectly assume they need a significant down payment, but according to an article in Building Utah, that isn't always the case. In today’s stable housing market, there are many low-down and zero-down programs. For example, one of the best zero-down options is a Rural Housing Loan offered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
In a seller’s market, you have to be prepared to make quick decisions. This means being aware of listings and making offers as soon as possible.
One thing you can do to stay ahead of the game is to put technology to use. Most websites offer email alerts and notifications, but real estate apps can streamline the process even further.
If you want to know the best apps to help you find a home, check out The Balance’s list of The 8 Best Real Estate Apps of 2019.
Think outside the box
If you’re hoping to beat other first-time homebuyers to the punch, keep in mind that many of them will be employing the same tactics in their home search as you, so relying on online listings and Google alerts may not be enough.
For the best chance at finding a home, consider what sets you apart from the hundreds or thousands of others looking to buy in the same area. Trulia offers tips for writing an offer letter to the seller explaining why you’re the perfect buyer for their home.
Another good idea is to keep an eye on the areas and homes you’re interested in before they’re even listed. Perhaps a friend or neighbor knows someone ready to sell? As with many things, word of mouth is often the most effective method for finding what you want. (And if you have a rich uncle, now might be the perfect time to start buttering him up.)
Ready to buy?
After you’ve done the work of getting preapproved, learned the ins and outs of the first-time home buying process and made the decision to buy, you’ll want to make sure it’s a home you can be proud of and comfortable in for years to come.
In 2019, Ivory Homes is celebrating 31 years as Utah’s No. 1 homebuilder with the completion of 20,000 new homes and counting. Ivory Homes offers experience, design and quality you can count on when purchasing a new home.