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Strategic Tips for Buying Your First Home

(Published on - 2/20/2024 4:10:38 PM)


Buying your first home is a big, exciting step and a major milestone that has the power to improve your life. As a first-time homebuyer, it's a dream you can make come true, but there are some hurdles you'll need to overcome in today’s housing market – specifically the limited supply of homes for sale and ongoing affordability challenges.

So, if you're ready, willing, and able to buy your first home, here are three tips to help you turn your dream into a reality.

Save Money with First-Time Homebuyer Programs                                       

Paying the initial costs of homeownership, like your down payment and closing costs, can feel a bit daunting. But there are many assistance programs for first-time homebuyers that can help you get a loan with little or no money upfront. According to Bankrate:

“. . . you might qualify for a first-time homebuyer loan or assistance. First-time buyer loans typically have more flexible requirements, such as a lower down payment and credit score. Many help buyers with closing costs and the down payment through grants and low-interest loans.

To find out more, talk to your state's housing authority or check out websites like Down Payment Resource.

Expand Your Options by Looking at Condos and Townhomes

Right now, there aren’t enough homes for sale for everyone who wants to buy one. That’s pushing home prices up and making affordability tight for buyers. One way to deal with that issue and find a home right now is to consider condos and townhomes. explains:

For many newbies, it might just be a matter of making a shift toward something they can better afford—like a condo or townhome. These lower-cost homes have historically been a stepping stone for buyers looking for a less expensive alternative to a single-family home.”

One reason why they may be more affordable is because they’re often smaller. But they still give you the chance to get your foot in the door and achieve your goal of owning a home and building equity. And that equity can help fuel your move into a larger home later on if you decide you need something bigger in the future. Hannah Jones, Senior Economic Analyst at, says:

Condos can help prospective homebuyers who perhaps have a smaller budget, but who are really determined to get a foothold in the market and start to accumulate some equity. It can be a really great entry point.”

Consider Pooling Your Resources To Buy a Multi-Generational Home

Another way to break into the market is by purchasing a home with friends or loved ones. That way you can split the cost of things like the mortgage and bills, to make it easier to afford a home. According to

“Buying a home with another person has some obvious advantages in the mortgage department. With two incomes in the mix, buyers can likely qualify for a larger mortgage — a big help in today’s high-cost market.

Bottom Line

By exploring first-time homebuyer assistance, condos, townhomes, and multi-generational living, it can be easier to find and buy your first home. When you’re ready, let’s connect.

Home Equity Can Be a Game Changer When You Sell

(Published on - 2/12/2024 6:00:59 PM)


Are you on the fence about selling your house? While affordability is improving this year, it’s still tight. And that may be on your mind. But understanding your home equity could be the key to making your decision easier. An article from Bankrate explains:

Home equity is the difference between your home's value and the amount you still owe on your mortgage. It represents the paid-off portion of your home.
You'll start off with a certain level of equity when you make your down payment to buy the home, then continue to build equity as you pay down your mortgage. You'll also build equity over time as your home's value increases.”

Think of equity as a simple math equation. It's the value of your home now minus what you owe on your mortgage. And guess what? Recently, your equity has probably grown more than you think.

In the past few years, home prices skyrocketed, which means your home's value – and your equity – likely shot up, too. So, you may have more equity than you realize.

How To Make the Most of Your Home Equity Right Now

If you're thinking about moving, the equity you have in your home could be a big help. According to CoreLogic:

“. . . the average U.S. homeowner with a mortgage still has more than $300,000 in equity . . .”

Clearly, homeowners have a lot of equity right now. And the latest data from the Census and ATTOM shows over two-thirds of homeowners have either completely paid off their mortgages (shown in green in the chart below) or have at least 50% equity (shown in blue in the chart below):



That means roughly 70% have a tremendous amount of equity right now.

After you sell your house, you can use your equity to help you buy your next home. Here’s how:

  • Be an all-cash buyer: If you’ve been living in your current home for a long time, you might have enough equity to buy your next home without having to take out a loan. If that’s the case, you won’t need to borrow any money or worry about mortgage rates. Investopedia states:
“You may want to pay cash for your home if you're shopping in a competitive housing market, or if you'd like to save money on mortgage interest. It could help you close a deal and beat out other buyers.
  • Make a larger down payment: Your equity could also be used toward your next down payment. It might even be enough to let you put a larger amount down, so you won’t have to borrow as much money. The Mortgage Reports explains:
Borrowers who put down more money typically receive better interest rates from lenders. This is due to the fact that a larger down payment lowers the lender’s risk because the borrower has more equity in the home from the beginning.”

The Easy Way To Find Out How Much Equity You Have

To find out how much equity you have in your home, ask a real estate agent you trust for a Professional Equity Assessment Report (PEAR). 

Bottom Line

Planning a move? Your home equity can really help you out. Let’s connect to see how much equity you have and how it can help with your next home.

Why It’s More Affordable To Buy a Home This Year

(Published on - 2/9/2024 1:06:51 PM)


Some Highlights


(Published on - 1/29/2024 6:49:45 PM)


A family sitting near unpacked boxes in their home.

Moving into a new house is exciting – and, like most major life events, incredibly stressful. You have to pack, clean, and hire movers, all on a timeline and budget.

According to a survey conducted by OnePoll, 64% of respondents consider their latest relocation one of the most challenging experiences they have ever had.

Moving comes with many different parts: planning, budgeting, and figuring out how to get your precious belongings into your new home. While procrastinating may be tempting, you can take a few simple steps to make your move less stressful.

What to do before you move

A woman creating a checklist to make moving less stressful.

Whether you are moving in a few months or a few weeks, take some time to outline a plan for packing up your home. Making a checklist, blocking out time on your calendar to pack, and taking small steps weeks or months ahead of your move will make the moving day much easier.

Start decluttering and packing early

Moving into a new home gives you a chance for a fresh start. As you pack your space, make piles of items to donate and throw away. If you plan on buying new furniture, now is a great time to donate old bookcases or hand-me-down tables.

Decluttering can involve sorting items to trash or donate which can make moving less stressful.

Start by decluttering items you will not need to use until after your move. For example, go through your winter wardrobe if you are moving in the summer. Donate things you do not use and throw out anything damaged. You do not want to get stuck unpacking junk in your new dream house, so now is the time to get rid of it.

Decluttering your home is especially beneficial if you are selling your current property and buying a new one simultaneously. If there is room in your house, store the moving boxes until it is time to go. If there is room in your budget, consider renting a storage unit. The more items you can get rid of or put in storage before you move, the more spacious your home will look to potential buyers.

As you pack, remember that labels are your friend. Write down the contents of the box and which room the box needs to be unpacked in once you reach your new home. Keep similar items together and ensure the boxes are fairly easy to lift. Packing a large box of books might seem like an easy way to stay organized, but that will not matter if you cannot lift the box.

Starting with items you do not use daily, you will have most of your belongings packed ahead of your move. A week or two before moving day, start packing more everyday items. Disposable plates and takeout menus will come in handy once all your plates are packed away.

Set aside an overnight bag or suitcase for your first night in your new home. Keep your toothbrush, some toiletries, medications, and a change of clothes in the bag to have everything you need for moving day.

Ask for help

When you made your checklist, you probably included “hire movers.” Not everyone has the budget to hire professional movers; if that is the case, you may need to contact friends and family for help.

Only some people can help move, but help comes in many different ways. If you are moving with kids, ask your parents to watch your little ones for the afternoon so you can get a large chunk of packing done. If one of your friends enjoys cleaning, painting, or dusting, ask if they can come over and help with that. Sometimes, even having someone to talk to while you pack helps the process go faster.

If you have a friend with a truck or van, they may be willing to help move you for the low price of snacks and a pizza dinner. If you have friends or family helping you move, make sure to have refreshments ready. Coffee and donuts make the morning move sweeter. Renting a U-Haul can help get the job done quicker and in fewer trips, which everyone will appreciate.

Professional movers will get the job done quickly. They can also safely move larger and more expensive items, and many moving companies offer a guarantee, so you do not have to worry about something important getting broken or lost.

If you are on a budget, consider hiring a smaller moving crew to transport large items, like dressers, bedroom sets, or anything delicate that you are not comfortable dealing with yourself. Then borrow a friend’s truck or invite a few family members to help move your other things. This option gives you the best of both worlds: professional movers will take care of the tough parts of the move, and you will save money by moving the rest of your things yourself.

What to do during your move

If you have prepared enough ahead of time, it will be easy to outline a plan for your movers. Remember to take deep breaths, stretch, and stay hydrated. Getting swept up in all the activity can be easy, so do not forget to take care of yourself.

Taking care of yourself may involve hiring a babysitter for your small children on moving day. Consider sending pets to a daycare or boarding service so they are safe and out of the way. This way, you do not have to juggle caring for your kids, pets, and the moving crew all at once. You can reunite with your kids or pets safely in your new home.

Move at the right time

Sometimes life happens and you must move quickly for a new job opportunity, school, or other life change. If you have more flexibility, try to move during the off-season.

The real estate market is busiest in the summer and moving companies may have limited availability over the holidays. Try to move in the early spring or fall. March, April, October, and November tend to be slower months for real estate. You will also have more moving companies to choose from since they will have more availability during the off-season.

If you have to move during the busy season, there are a few factors to consider. Most people move on the weekend; if you rely on family and friends to help you move, that may be the most convenient option for everyone. People will not have to worry about taking time off from work, and you can get a lot done over two days.

If you plan on hiring a professional moving service, try to schedule your move on Tuesday or Wednesday. You will be more likely to get a reservation and may even pay a lower rate.

Prepare yourself for your first night in your new home

It is finally here – you are in your new home. With your overnight bag at your side, you are ready to start your new life.

A couple celebrating their new home.

You can set yourself up for success on the first night. Try to get over to the property before move-in day. Hire a cleaning service or give the place a deep clean before bringing all your stuff over. Ensure to label spots for movers to place furniture and have linens, bedclothes, and toiletries ready to unpack. Install window treatments for privacy in the bedrooms. Have a few snacks, bottled water, and pet food on hand.

What to do after you move

Before you start worrying about unpacking, take a breath. The movers are gone, you have the keys to your new house, and you are officially off to a fresh start. You have spent months planning and preparing for this moment. Take a beat and enjoy the accomplishment of a successful move.

Give yourself time to get settled in

The deadline is past, and the pressure is off. You can now take time unpacking, decorating, and setting up your new home. After such a flurry of activity, getting everything out of the boxes and putting it in its place can be tempting.

It is okay to take some time to figure out exactly what you want. Maybe you have a bigger kitchen now and must reconsider how to set everything up for the right flow. Maybe you want to explore the neighborhood instead of getting all your tools in the garage. Maybe you unpacked the last box in the house, but you still have that storage unit lurking in your mind.

If you have the budget, consider keeping some items in the storage unit. If you move in March and the storage unit mostly has Christmas decorations, snow blowers, or other winter things, you can wait and get it out later. You may even wind up decluttering a few more things in the meantime.

Safety first

Moving to a new place can be scary. Even if you have lived independently, being responsible for a property can be intimidating. Take care of common-sense security things, like changing the locks. Installing motion sensor lights is often enough to deter potential criminals. A home security system offers peace of mind at home or on vacation.


A family excited to move into their new home.

Moving homes can be difficult, but you can do a few things to alleviate moving stress. Planning, making a checklist, decluttering, and staying organized can make packing and moving easier. Contact your friends and family for help and hire professional movers if possible. There may still be stressful moments throughout the process but take a deep breath and prepare to start a new chapter in your new home.



Homeownership Is Still at the Heart of the American Dream

(Published on - 1/19/2024 3:40:39 AM)

Homeownership Is Still at the Heart of the American Dream

Buying a home is a powerful decision, and it remains at the heart of the American Dream. Unlike renting, owning a home means more than just having a place to live – it offers a sense of belonging, stability, and freedom. According to Nicole Bachaud, Senior Economist at Zillow:

The American Dream is still owning a home. There’s a lot of pent-up demand for ownership; that isn’t going to go away.”

Let’s explore just a few of the reasons why so many Americans continue to value homeownership. 

The Financial Benefits of Owning a Home

One possible reason homeownership is viewed so highly is because owning a home is a significant wealth-building tool. That may be why Jessica Lautz, Deputy Chief and VP of Research at the National Association of Realtors (NAR), says:

“Homeownership is the number one way to build wealth in America.”

Over time, owning a home not only helps boost your own net worth, but it also sets future generations up for success as you pass that wealth down. Habitat for Humanity explains:

“Overall, homeownership promotes wealth building by acting as a forced savings mechanism and through home value appreciation. Homeowners make monthly payments that increase their equity in their homes by paying down the principal balance of their mortgage. . . . In addition, owning a home promotes intergenerational homeownership and wealth building. Children of homeowners transition to homeownership earlier — lengthening the period over which they can accumulate wealth . . .”

It can also provide meaningful financial stability compared to renting. When you buy with a fixed-rate mortgage, you can lock in your monthly housing payments for the length of your home loan.

The Non-Financial Benefits of Homeownership

But, owning a home offers more than just financial benefits—it benefits you socially and emotionally too. Your home provides feelings of achievement, responsibility, and more. In a recent survey, Fannie Mae outlines just a few of these more emotionally-driven benefits, including:

“The top three were having control over what you do with your living space (94%) to having a sense of privacy and security (91%) and having a good place for your family or to raise your children (90%) . . .”

What Does That Mean for You?

If your idea of the American Dream involves greater freedom, security, and prosperity, homeownership could be a key player in bringing that dream to life. And with mortgage rates now on a downward trend, it might be a good time for you to consider making a move.

If you’re ready and able to buy, know that there are incredible benefits waiting at the end of your journey. You'll gain more than just a home – it's a place to grow your wealth and call your very own. Like Ksenia Potapov, Economist at First American says:

“...homeownership remains an important driver of wealth accumulation and the largest source of total wealth among most households.”

Bottom Line

Buying a home is a powerful decision and the cornerstone of the American Dream. If finding a place to call your own is part of your dream for this year, let’s connect to start the process today.


The information contained, and the opinions expressed, in this article are not intended to be construed as investment advice. Keeping Current Matters, Inc. does not guarantee or warrant the accuracy or completeness of the information or opinions contained herein. Nothing herein should be construed as investment advice. You should always conduct your own research and due diligence and obtain professional advice before making any investment decision. Keeping Current Matters, Inc. will not be liable for any loss or damage caused by your reliance on the information or opinions contained herein.



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