How to Afford a Home in America

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Buying a home – especially for the first time – can present hurdles, but research, creativity and flexibility will help you clear them. From educating yourself on your financial situation, to saving for a down payment, to lifting your credit score, here are 3 focus points to help you afford a home in America.

How to Afford a Home in America

Educate Yourself on Where You Stand

The first step of avoiding potential hurdles is to know where you stand financially. This includes knowing your credit score, knowing which finance options are available to you, and knowing the how much you need to put down upfront. To learn about your credit score, you can check online tools that give you an accurate ballpark of where you stand. These tools will also tell you the areas where you need improvement and tips on how to do so. An FHA loan may be the best option for some homebuyers, while a VA loan is better for others. Do your research and find out which loan options are best for you. Once you know what kind of loan you want to go forward with, educate yourself on how much you’ll need to put down upfront so you can be prepared.

Make Enough Money to Save

Create a budget of your finances and see how much you can realistically save each month. Being diligent about putting money into savings will help you save for a. down payment for your home. If you aren’t making enough to save, you may consider taking on a side hustle to help in the moment to put cash away. Driving for a ride share service, food delivery service, or teaching a class or two can all help you save money so you can afford a home in America.

Know Your Deal Breakers

Going into the home buying process with a list of must haves will help the home buying process move faster. If location is your number one priority for a new home, and you’re looking at homes with long commutes, then you’re making the process more complicated than it needs to be. Sticking to your non-negotiable list will help weed out homes that don’t fit your criteria and may open up the opportunity for home that you may not be pleased with down the line. If you’re finding that you cannot find many houses that fit every one of your deal breakers, you may need to be flexible with your list.

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4 Reasons to Invest in Real Estate

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Increasingly, Americans are making the choice to invest in real estate over stocks and bonds. In multiple studies, U.S. adults feel real estate is the best way to invest money not needed for more than 10 years. Here are the 4 most common reasons to invest in real estate.

4 Reasons to Invest in Real Estate

Immediate Cash Flow

Many people buy investment properties for the cash flow. If you are able to buy a property, fix it up, and then rent it out, you can be making back more than you spent in the mortgage/repairs. Investing in real estate for the cash flow allows you to receive a rent check at the end of each month that you can use/save as you wish.

Tax Breaks

One of the top reasons to invest in real estate is the tax breaks that come along. Real estate investments can come with tax deductions on mortgage interest, operating costs, property taxes, insurance, and depreciation. Not only will you be sending less money to the IRS, but you will be increasing your cash flow over time by doing so.


If you make it a priority to pay off your mortgage, the amount of your home that you actually own will increase quickly. Paying more toward your principal can help you speed up the process. Additionally, the faster you pay your home loan, the faster you build equity, even if your home is appreciating at a slow rate. When choosing the loan terms, go for a shorter loan period if possible. When it comes to building equity, a 15 year mortgage is better than a 30 year as you don’t have to pay interest for those extra 15 years.

Vacation Home

Many U.S. adults like to invest in real estate to have a place to vacation a couple weeks of the year. For example, if you are 10 years out from retiring and have selected San Diego to be the place you want to move, consider investing in real estate now, renting in out via lease or Airbnb, and vacation there when you want. Then in 10 years when you’re ready to make the move down there, you’ll already own a lot of the property. This allows you to enjoy the property now and later, plus you’ll have purchased the house in today’s market without the inflation of the next 10 years.

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Simple Ways to Save for a Down Payment

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For a lot of first time home buyers, coming up with the down payment and closing costs can be the most stressful part of buying a home. Whether you’re going with the FHA route with a minimum of 3.5% down, or the convention loan route with a 20% down payment, saving for a down payment can take time. Here are simple ways to save for a down payment.

Simple Ways to Save for a Down Payment

Check your progress

One of the best ways to save for a down payment is to check your current progress. This means you’ll need to get ahold of your finances analyze how you’re currently spending your income. For a lot of people, dining out can cost hundreds of dollars a week, whereas meal prepping at the grocery store could be a couple hundred dollars a month. Once you’re aware of how much you’re spending in each area, make a budget and check your progress every week. This will keep you on track on to meet your goals.


Starbucks is so delicious, but it can add up over time. A $5 coffee every day of the month can cost you $155 a month just in coffee. And this doesn’t even consider the days you want to add a bagel in there too. Consider investing in a coffee maker and you can cut your coffee costs significantly. Additionally, a lot of workplaces offer coffee at a subsidized rate, or even free. Utilizing your resources can also save you a ton of money every month. Saving for a down payment doesn’t mean you need to get rid of things all together, it just means you need to modify how you do things.


Subscriptions can add up every month, and we may not even know what we’re signed up for anymore. Go through you monthly bank statement and take note of all your subscriptions. Then go through and cancel all the ones you don’t use on a regular basis. It’s common for people to pay for 2 subscriptions of similar products such as music streaming. Chances are you aren’t regularly using both, so cancel the one you use less frequently. These services can give you $20-$30 back a month

Sell unwanted items

If you go to your garage, you’ll likely have a ton of items you want to sell. Try selling items one by one over Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace. You’ll be surprised how much you can get from a lot of little items adding up! Additionally, if you truly have a whole garage full of things you want to sell, consider putting together a garage sale to sell everything at once. This will help you make money, but will also help you clean out your garage!

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6 Expenses That Might Surprise First Time Home Buyers

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While moving into a new home is an exciting time, first time home buyers are sometimes surprised of the expenses that come with moving. From property taxes, to homeowner’s insurance, here are 6 expenses that might surprise first time home buyers.

6 Expenses That Might Surprise First Time Home Buyers

Property Tax

Each home’s property tax is different. The property tax is based on the value of the home’s property and land. The property tax is determined by state and local government and usually includes things like city, county and school district taxes. As a first time homer buyer, be sure you look on Redfin at the bottom of the homes you desire and check out the estimated property taxes so you don’t find yourself surprised by the monthly property tax.

Home Maintenance

As a home owner, whether you’re a first time home buyer or not, you need to account for home maintenance expenses. If your furnace all of a sudden stops working in the middle of winter, you’re going to have to call out a professional to fix it which costs you money out of pocket. So make sure you’re prepared with enough savings to cover any home maintenance you need to take care of throughout the month.

Emergency Expenses

What happens when a neighborhood kid throws a baseball through your window? Are you prepared to cover the cost? The thing about emergencies is that you never know what going to happen or when. So it’s bets that you’re saving money each month to prepare for any emergencies.

Home Décor Budget

When moving into a new home, one of the first things you’ll want to do is to fill up the rooms with décor and furniture. Do you have the funds for this? Remember, a house isn’t built in a day. It’s ok to slowly build your house décor. Home décor is one of the most popular expenses that might surprise first time home buyers since it’s a cost they didn’t realize was important upon move in.


When moving from an apartment to a house, the utility bill changes, and most likely increases. Before you move homes, be sure to call the utility providers that service the area in which you want to live. This way you will know how much money you’ll need to pay each month and set it aside.

Home Owner’s Insurance

Home owner’s insurance is required if you have a mortgage loan. Pay close attention is you live in a flood zone or if you live in an area prone to hurricanes. You may be required to have additional coverage. Home owner’s insurance is required for your safety and to keep you and your valuables protected. Home owner’s insurance is one of the top expenses that might surprise first time home buyers.

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Seattle Neighborhood Update

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Seattle Neighborhood Update

Last month brought some long-awaited, positive news for buyers with May posting the most new listings in over a decade. Despite the uptick in inventory, most homes are selling in less than a month. Prices haven’t been impacted either, with the majority of the region continuing to experience double-digit home price increases. Here is the Seattle Neighborhood Update for May/June.

Read the full Local Market Update, including statistics for the Eastside, Seattle, King County and Snohomish County.

seattle neighborhood update

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Now Is The Time to Buy a Home in Pierce County

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Home ownership is a big pillar of the American Dream. A place to build equity and most importantly a place to call your own. Today there are many opportunities in the housing market to find a home that is right for you. But just like any living thing, market conditions can change, and these opportunities may not be around for long. Take a look at why now is the time to buy a home in Pierce County.

Now Is The Time to Buy a Home in Pierce County

Low Interest Rates

One of the most important reasons that now is the time to buy a home in Pierce County is the low interest rates. The low interest rates in today’s market are helping home buyers find affordable housing. When consumers pay less in interest, this gives them more to spend. This will result in a lower mortgage payment each month. Additionally, locking a rate in this year will secure that rate for the next 30 years, assuming you sign a 30-year loan.

Down Payment

While many lenders expect homebuyers to make at least a 20% down payment, with an FHA loan, you’re able to put down as little as 3.5% down. And with a USDA loan, there is no down payment requirement at all. This removes the large road block that stands in the way of many first time home buyers closing on their first home. This alone is helping first time home buyers understand why now is the time to buy in Pierce County. However, it is important to note that with loans that allow less than 20% down, mortgage insurance is required to be paid by the home buyer.

Built to Fit Lifestyle

With millennials always on the go, homes today are designed to accommodate their busy lifestyles. Homes such as urban condos, and single family homes feature open floor plans, flexible spaces, and low maintenance materials. With energy costs near the top of home buyer’s concerns, it’s good to know that homes that are built today can be more energy efficient. And in many area, prospective home buyers who wish to live in 55+ neighborhood, will find a large selection of homes tailored for the lifestyles of the baby boomers. These features among others make homes today more appealing than ever before and remain a top reason that now is the time to buy a home in Pierce County.

Inventory Levels Have Increased, A Bit

An inventory shortage has plagued the US housing market since 2015. This has forced some buyers to settle in homes that are simply not right for their lifestyle and may be out of their budget because they had limited options. New home construction has expanded, raising the inventory levels of houses giving home buyers more options when shopping for the right home.

Forced Savings

Buying a home is an investment. The great thing about buying now in Pierce County is that you’re able to build equity without evening thinking about it. The demand to live in Downtown Seattle is so high that the costs of homes are growing. So if you buy this year and decide to sell in 5 years, you’ll likely make over one hundred grand in equity. Many home buyers use this equity in future years as a down payment on a larger home, or to pay of personal debt.

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Budgeting Tips for Home Buyers in Pierce County

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Buying a home is one of the largest financial transactions you will make, and preparing your budget beforehand will help make the home buying process in Pierce County less stressful. Here are 3 budgeting tips for home buyers in Pierce County.

Budgeting Tips for Home Buyers in Pierce County

Organize your finances

By breaking down your monthly spending into rent, utilities, shopping, groceries, extracurriculars and savings, you’re able to see your areas of strength and areas of weakness. For example, say you are spending $1500 a month on rent, $200 a month on utilities, $1000 a month on shopping, $500 a month on groceries, $150 a month of extracurriculars, and $100 a month on savings. When you put all of these data points into a pie chart and you’re able to visually see that you’re spending almost 30% of your monthly bills on shopping, when half of that could go into your savings pot. By walking through your finances one step at a time, you’re able to track what you spend and make goals to increase your savings.

Set goals

While your large goal is to buy a home, setting smaller goals will help you stay on track and feel successful while you make your way there. If your goal is to set aside $500 a month into savings, how are you going to get there? Consider these methods:

  • Switch to a cheaper gym. Gyms can be extremely expensive, and especially so if you aren’t using them as much as you’d like. Do some research on less expensive gyms, and look into home workouts so you can see if you can cut that cost out all together.
  • Cancel cable during the summer. Television usage drops dramatically in the summer due to vacations, spending time outside, and spending time with loved ones. Consider cutting your cable bill just for 3 months (granted you’re not in a contract), and watch your savings increase those three months.
  • Limit restaurant visits to once a week. Restaurant bills can add up, especially if you’re buying appetizers, drinks, and desserts. Make it a goal to only eat out at a restaurant once a week, and make your own meals the rest of the week.
  • Make your own coffee. The average Starbucks coffee is $5. Imagine if you cut that cost out of your monthly spending. A bag of coffee ranges about $20 a bag and lasts about a month. That’s a savings of $135 a month just on coffee alone.

Track your progress

While it’s great to make goals, they don’t mean much unless you track your progress. The most important budgeting tip for home buyers in Pierce County is to keep yourself accountable. If you make a purchase that wasn’t planned for, add it to your budget and readjust your goal for that month. It’s ok to make an extra purchase here and there, just as long as you can stay on track for the coming months. As a home owner, there are many unplanned costs that come up, so getting into a habit of budgeting now will prepare you for these financial challenges that inevitable pop up.

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