In this competitive housing market, buyers are willing to make some concessions to either cut costs or land their dream home.
Some 58% of U.S. adults would be willing to take action to find housing that is more affordable, with Gen Z and millennials more likely to do so than older generations, a survey from Bankrate.com found. That includes moving to a cheaper area and buying a fixer upper.
To be sure, home prices are still high, thanks to continued low inventory. In April, the median price of an existing home sold was the highest on record at $391,200, an increase of 14.8% from a year ago, according to the National Association of Realtors.
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“Wages are going up a bit, but these price increases are really squeezing Americans who want to buy homes,” said Bankrate.com analyst Jeff Ostrowski.
“Now that mortgage rates have risen pretty dramatically, there is an affordability crunch really affecting first-time buyers.”
The mortgage rate on a 30-year fixed loan is now 5.36%, according to Mortgage News Daily. That’s up from 3.29% at the start of the year.
Between home prices and higher mortgage rates, buyers’ mortgage payments are about 50% higher than just a year ago, according to Realtor.com data.
Considering new areas
That affordability crunch has some considering different neighborhoods or even states. Just over a quarter of U.S. adults are willing to move out of state, Bankrate’s survey found. In addition, 20% would move farther away from family and friends, 13% would move farther from work and 11% would consider moving to a less desirable area.
With the rise of remote work, rethinking your geographic boundaries may make sense. Yet, remember that picking up your life and moving can be stressful and difficult if you are moving away from a support system, for instance, Ostrowski said.
“If you really want to go to a different market, rent a place for a few months or a year and get to know the area,” he advised. “See if you really want to live there.”
Opting for a fixer upper
You are likely to get a better deal on a house that needs work. Just remember that renovations can require a lot of effort and often take longer and cost more than expected, said Ostrowski, who has been through a renovation.
“You just have to know what you are in for,” he said. “You are probably going to have to come up with a lot of money to pay contractors and buy supplies.”
While there are loan programs to help cover costs, they tend to be more complicated than mortgages, he said.
Supply chain issues could also make renovations difficult, said Clare Trapasso, Realtor.com’s deputy news editor.
“Expect longer wait times for various appliances and materials and you’re likely paying more for them than you would have just a few years ago,” she said.
On top of that, it’s hard to find a good contractor because they are so busy right now.
As buyers compete for properties, some are skipping inspections.
A quarter of buyers were willing to forgo contingencies like inspections and appraisals to get the deal done, according to a survey by Realtor.com. The survey of 3,000 U.S. adults took place Feb. 16 to 18.
Yet waiving inspections is extremely risky, Trapasso said.
“If there is something wrong with the home that they can’t see with the naked eye, it could cost them tens of thousands of dollars to fix,” she said.
However, you may consider a structural inspection, which looks at the electrical and structural components of the home, like the foundation and roof. That signals to the seller that you won’t nickel and dime them for smaller issues.
Some 22% of sellers said there was a bidding war for their home, Realtor’s survey found.
If you decide to enter into one in order to land the home you want, go in with a plan, Bankrate’s Ostrowski said.
“Have an idea of how much you are willing to pay, how high you want to go and at what point are you going to back out of the bidding war,” he said.
Don’t go crazy and max out your budget, especially considering inflation and high energy costs, Trapasso added.
“Leave yourself some wiggle room in case of an emergency or in case costs continue rising,” she warned.
Remember, there are other ways to sweeten the deal, like putting down a larger down payment, leasing back the home if the prior owners need more time or opting for a quicker closing date, if possible.
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