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Dupaco’s Angie Ries helps member Jon Sodawasser sign closing papers on the purchase of his first home Aug 16 at Dupaco’s branch in Dyersville, Iowa. (M. Burley photo) Dupaco’s Angie Ries helps member Jon Sodawasser sign closing papers on the purchase of his first home Aug 16 at Dupaco’s branch in Dyersville, Iowa. (M. Burley photo)

5 steps to help you buy your house as home prices soar

You took all the right steps. You doubled down on saving for a down payment. You built your credit to qualify for a great rate. You even got pre-approved for your home loan because you’re a homebuying rockstar.

But now housing prices are going up. Fast.

And you’re not the only one searching for a house. The competition is frustratingly fierce.

And you’re left wondering: How will I ever buy a house?

There’s still hope.

By keeping a pulse on what’s happening in the homebuying world and taking some extra steps, you can still reach your goal of homeownership. It might just be a matter of finetuning your game plan to help you move from obsessively scouring the latest house listings to planning paint colors in your own home.

What’s happening with home prices?

The cost of homes has been rising for decades. And lately, home prices continue to climb for several reasons, including:

  • High demand for homes as more people work from home
  • Building material shortages
  • Increased costs of building supplies
  • Low housing inventory

Home price increases are significantly outpacing inflation rates, according to a CUtoday story.

Consider this: If home prices had grown at the same rate as inflation since 1970, you could be buying two houses instead of just one today!

And since there aren’t a lot of houses to choose from, you’re not the only buyer making an offer.

“We’re seeing more bidding wars than we’ve ever seen before,” said Stacy Rissman, senior mortgage lending consultant at Dupaco Community Credit Union. “Buyers are waiving home inspections and contingencies, and trying to be as creative and aggressive as possible to get their offer accepted.”

Could an adjustable-rate mortgage help you buy your home? >

5 steps to get you closer to buying your house

What to do with this news?

Revisit your game plan. And focus on the things that are in your control.

|1| Remember your why

When you’re overwhelmed or discouraged, it’s easy to lose sight of your end goal.

Make time to pause and ask yourself: Why am I doing this?

Maybe you crave the freedom of making a house your own. Or you want a bigger place where your family will make memories for years to come. Maybe you’ve been dreaming of a backyard to play with your favorite dog.

Whatever your reason, let that renew your mission. Imagine your why. And acknowledge that your journey requires patience now more than ever.

“I’ve talked with so many people who feel overwhelmed by it all,” Rissman said. “The right property will come. And one day you’ll be looking back on this time and telling your family about it.”

|2| Brush up on the homebuying process

Has it been a while since you talked about the steps of buying a home? Ask your lender for a refresher.

Rissman regularly walks homebuyers through each phase. Here are some questions she recommends talking through with your lender:

  • When should I get preapproved for my home loan?
  • How much house can I afford to buy?
  • What will give me a competitive edge when negotiating a house price?
  • What are my loan options?
  • How much will my total monthly payment be with insurance and taxes?
  • Do I qualify for any first-time homebuyer grants or other programs?

“We take a lot of pride in educating our members and making sure they understand the process of buying a home,” Rissman said. “The more you know, the less stressed you’ll be throughout the process.”

See if you qualify for a first-time homebuyer grant at Dupaco >

|3| Take another look at your complete financial picture

Revisit your money—your budget, debts, credit and future goals. There might be new opportunities to get creative and boost your buying power.

What does that look like? It’s different for everyone. But maybe …

  • You can save money by consolidating some of your existing debt and putting that savings toward your purchase.
  • You could pay off your auto loan early. Doing so could boost your credit score and ultimately help you afford your house.
  • You qualify for a different home loan that you hadn’t considered.

See how Dupaco got creative to help this couple buy their first home >

“We want to work with our homebuyers to look at all of their options to help them be the most competitive,” Rissman said.

Not sure where to start? You can get free, one-on-one financial guidance at Dupaco.

Last year, Dupaco provided free financial coaching to 15,549 members (hint: that’s almost enough people to fill the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls, Iowa).

Schedule your free Dupaco Money Makeover

|4| Review your wants vs. needs

If you haven’t done this, take a hard look at your wants and needs in your home. Be honest with yourself.

  • What do you have to have?
  • What would be nice to have (but not necessary)?
  • What are you willing to trade off on your wish list?

Knowing the answers to these questions will help you narrow your search and focus on the right houses. Share these insights with your realtor so you’re all on the same page.

|5| Surround yourself with a team you can trust

If you don’t have a realtor, consider adding one to your team.

“We always tell homebuyers that having a realtor in their corner will help them be more aggressive in the market,” Rissman said.

Keep in contact with your realtor and lender. Rissman encourages you to call your lender when you find a house you’d like to make an offer on.

“Let’s look up the taxes and insurance for that property so you’re making an educated offer and know what your payment will be,” she said.

Check in with yourself too. Are you comfortable with your homebuying team?

“This might be the biggest investment in your life,” Rissman said. “It’s important that you feel like you can trust them.”

Where are you looking to build or purchase?