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I’ve started this new series, “Huffman at Home,” for two reasons. The first is that I believe home ownership leads to a more secure future for everyone. The best advice I was given when I worked in the news business was to “be of service.” I carried this with me into my career as a real estate agent. I’d like to be of service to anyone trying to build their dreams of home ownership and to those selling their homes and fulfilling other dreams.

Secondly, I know what home ownership has meant to me. In short, I bought my first home as a single woman at 32. My monthly mortgage payment was roughly what I paid for rent on a one bedroom/one bathroom, 600 square foot apartment. My three bedroom/two bathroom home in Waco was a tremendous investment. But after making monthly mortgage payments, it was mine. I owned it. And, it increased in value 40% over the 10 years of ownership. For comparison, a home that costs $100,000 would sell for $140,000 at that rate. So, I got to live in this lovely home with a yard, fireplace, and the privacy that I craved.

While I did spend money updating and making needed repairs, I was a homeowner. Had I been renting I would have walked away with nothing. Instead, I waked away with cash plus extra when I sold my home. That meant my husband and I had a nice down payment when it came time to build our home in Corsicana.

So, let’s take a look at the year 2020 and the housing market and mortgages. Some financial experts believe that when there are big political elections (such as upcoming Presidential contest) things can get tricky for the housing market.

“The mortgage market is showing a moderate slow down but not a decline. I think at least through early 2020, it will remain a good time to purchase a home,” said Christina Janecka, Senior Vice President/Regional Manager of Verabank in Corsicana.

The home site Zillow reports that after our current long period of economic expansion, we generally can expect a slowdown.

“Meaningfully higher interest rates should eventually slow the frenetic pace of home value appreciation,” said Aaron Terrazas. Terrazas is Zillow’s senior economist. With that, we could see home values level off which obviously would be a good thing for buyers.

Following the highs and lows of the market may not be your thing. But one thing is almost always a good bet, “Buying is better than renting. If you average $900 rent over 60 months, you’ve wasted $54,000.”

That sentiment is from Walt Harper, a mortgage banker with Goldwater Bank who offices out of Corsicana. The reason is simple. If you paid that $900 for rent for five years (60 months), you won’t own anything. Taking the leap of faith into home ownership gives you a better shot at building equity. That in turn is like having money in the bank except that it’s all in your home’s value.

Do you think the American Dream is so far out of reach? Speaking from experience, that’s what I thought before I sat down with a banker who ended up telling me exactly what I could afford. For me, it was a real no brainer.

For some, the thought of being judged on their finances may be a bit scary. We’ve all likely been scared of the unknown. Perhaps you heard that you’ll need $20,000 cash to even think of buying.

“There are programs out there that may offer loans up to 97% or even 100% financing depending on your qualification.” Janecka said. She really hopes people seek out education on home buying.

“I’m passionate about that. There’s no better feeling than helping someone purchase their own home,” she said.

Harper agrees. “We don’t turn you away, we turn you into a homebuyer.” he said. Harper suggests three ways to find out your financial standing before looking at homes. Visit your local mortgage officer face to face, call on the phone or visit your bank’s website. Harper says that once he has all of the info in front of him, he can turn around the information quickly.

All that’s left to do, is then get in contact with your real estate agent.

Here’s to happy home hunting in 2020!

Christy Mejia Huffman joined Keller Williams Realty in 2019. She has a 20 year career in marketing, sales, and journalism. Huffman at Home is a new feature series highlighting all things real estate and lifestyle. We hope you enjoy this premiere edition of Huffman at Home. You can reach Christy at c.huffman@kw.com.

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