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So, you’re considering buying a home in this pricey market? Well, the first thing you must do is figure out how much house you can afford. And once you’ve got that number, stick to it! Don’t let the pressure of seeing other buyers snatch up homes make you overspend.

I get it; waiting for the right home that fits your budget can test patience. But trust me, you’ll be thanking yourself later when your home feels like a blessing, not a burden with a hefty mortgage payment you’re struggling to afford!

Here are a few tips to help you feel confident about buying a home this year:

  1. Keep your house payment to 25% or less of your monthly take-home pay: This includes everything – principal, interest, property tax, home insurance, homeowners association (HOA) fees, and if your down payment is lower than 20%, private mortgage insurance (PMI). That’s an extra fee added to your mortgage to protect your lender (not you) if you don’t make payments.
  2. Save a significant down payment: Ideally, you’ll want to save a down payment of at least 20% to avoid PMI. If you’re a first-time home buyer, a smaller down payment, like 5% to 10%, is okay too—but then you’ll have to pay PMI. Saving a significant down payment is doable! You have to stay patient and focused. Who knows, you might even be able to save a five-figure down payment (or more) by this time next year.
  3. Choose a 15-year fixed-rate conventional mortgage: The best home loan (and the only one I recommend) is a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage. Avoid expensive options like the 30-year mortgage, FHA, VA, USDA, and adjustable-rate mortgages. They’ll charge you tens of thousands of dollars extra in interest and fees and keep you in debt for decades.

Once you’re ready to buy, you’ll need to start working with an experienced real estate agent who’s an expert in your local area. You might be tempted to go the DIY route, but that’s not a good idea. A good agent will help you navigate the ins and outs of the buying process and take a lot of stress (and complicated paperwork!) off your shoulders.

So, there you have it! Navigating a high-priced market might seem daunting, but with these strategies, you’ll be well-equipped to find a home that suits your needs. Happy house hunting!