When affordable housing is hard to find, it’s often discouraging when you start looking to purchase a home. Entry level homes, once referred to as starter homes under $100,000 are quickly disappearing.
Most of the houses in that price range are older homes around 1,300 square feet, build in the 1980s and require multiple repairs or upgrades in order to pass inspections for a loan. Repair or escrow type loans (FHA 203K or similar) are available, but the work has to be completed by a contractor not the owner after closing. If the seller is willing to fix the problems before the sale, they will usually increase the price to cover the repairs.
There is nothing wrong with buying a pre-existing home. Often they are located in established neighborhoods that are closer to shopping, schools and were built with quality materials by highly skilled craftsmen. A home inspection performed during the loan process can reveal any problems that may need to be addressed before purchase.
At present, a small refreshed and renovated older home in Mobile County on a 1/2 acre lot sells for around $130,000. Similar size homes built after 2005 on 1/4 acre lots start at $140,000. New homes with 1,300 SF on 1/3 acre lots start at $180,000. These are the new prices of entry level homes.
Why are new homes so expensive? It’s fairly simple to explain. New home builders are constrained by the high costs of land, labor, materials and regulatory compliance. Subdividing land, installing roads, utilities and infrastructure for a multi-lot subdivision is expensive and State and County approval is required months before the first nail is driven. Builders are trying to cater to the more affordable end of the market, but are not quite there yet.
Don’t be discouraged by these numbers and facts. You can still buy a home.
Interest rates are low and banks and mortgage companies are lending money for homes. If you and the home qualify there are USDA loans with no down payment is specific for persons without a current home and it has to be located in certain rural areas.
There are also down payment assistance programs like the FHA STEP UP program. This program allows you to borrow the money for the house and borrow the money for the down payment on a 2nd short term loan. VA has a no down payment loan as well to qualified veterans.
However, with any of these loans you will still need funds for your closing costs and insurance, unless the seller is willing to pay those for you. This is where using a REALTOR© is important. They can help negotiate the purchase, help you through the process of getting a loan and seeing that the loan goes to the closing table where you get the keys to your house.
It takes some effort but there are things you can do to make your home ownership a reality. Before you even start to search on one of the home buying internet sites, talk with a lender or a bank to get pre-qualified for a loan. This will tell you what your credit score is and just how much you can afford to buy based on your income and expenses. If you have credit problems, the lender can suggest a way to resolve them.
Don’t make a large purchase before looking for a house. A car loan can throw your credit score below the limit you will need for that home purchase.
Once you have the purchase amount established, start saving money for the closing costs, earnest money deposit and possibly a down payment.
Consider a home with a little less than you want to have with your dream home. Remember this is an entry level purchase. Most buyers live in a home 5 to 10 years then upgrade as their wages or household grows.
You may need to change your habits or compromise so you can finally own your own home. Maybe you really can live with only one bathroom, an eat-in kitchen and less closet space.
Contact a local REALTOR© who can help you search for your home. Securing the help of a trained and experienced real estate professional can save you money and time. Find an agent who knows the area where you want to buy. They often have advanced knowledge of available homes before they hit the market. As a buyer’s agent, they can scout out homes for you and assist and advise you from first look, throughout negotiations and then to closing and getting the keys to your home.
Your local REALTORS© at Azalea Real Estate have the experience you need and will treat your entry level home purchase with the same courtesy and expertise as they will when you finally buy your dream home.
Visit www.alhomesandland.com to preview homes or contact Aleta Boudreaux at Azalea Real Estate Agency at 251-656-4576 for more information on purchasing properties in South Mobile County.
©Aleta Boudreaux, 2020