The housing market has been a bit chaotic in recent years. Home prices jumped up as inflation climbed, and younger generations that were already prioritizing rentals became even more hesitant to invest in homes.
The Arizona real estate market has seen the same trend. Though prices are starting to normalize, they are still significantly higher than they were three or four years ago. Many who are at the prime age to buy a home prefer renting because it is not as big of an investment and it does not tie them down.
The biggest obstacle to homeownership is usually affordability. People may be struggling to save up for a down payment, so they assume that it would be more expensive to take out a mortgage. Fortunately, there are many options for those who want to become homeowners in the Grand Canyon State to make the transition more affordable.
First things first: most people cannot pay for a home’s total price upfront. That is simply unrealistic to expect, especially with the median price of a home in Arizona being $435,400 in 2023. That is why people take out loans and agree to pay back the lenders the total price of the home plus interest over a set period. Let’s discuss some loan products that can help you afford a home.
A conventional mortgage is the most common type of loan product; these mortgages are offered through private lenders and are not backed by the government, unlike other loans on this list. You need a credit score of at least 620 for most lenders to consider you for a conventional loan, and a steady income will also be necessary. The minimum down payment requirement is typically 3.5%, though you must cover 20% if you want to avoid mortgage insurance premiums.
Maybe your credit score is in the 500-619 range but you still want to own a home. No problem, the Federal Housing Administration insures a product known as an FHA loan to help more people afford homes. As long as you meet the minimum requirements and find a good home loan in Arizona, then you’re well on your way to affording your very first home.
Low-income individuals or families may never consider moving into a home without tools like a USDA loan. This mortgage is specifically for buyers with limited income who want a home in a rural area. If you meet these conditions, then a house becomes much more affordable and realistic. You can enjoy a 0% down payment as well as excellent interest rates, helping you afford more land and revitalize small communities in smaller regions.
Check the USDA website in order to see whether your preferred area is a part of this program; thankfully, most areas in Arizona outside of the major metropolitan areas are included in the program.
The Department of Veterans Affairs aims to help military members and families because of their service. One way they do this is by insuring VA loans so that lenders can offer better terms to veterans, active military, and surviving spouses. The best part if you qualify? You don’t have to cover a down payment or mortgage insurance and you will have access to lower interest rates.
It’s important to understand that while VA loans have excellent interest rates and low upfront costs, they also have strict requirements, particularly regarding your eligibility based on military service. You must have been on active duty for a prescribed period of time and been honorably discharged; this needs to be proven by obtaining a Certificate of Eligibility through the Department of Veterans Affairs.
First-Time Homebuyer Grants/Loans
If this is your first home, then multiple tools will make the path to ownership much cheaper. The most popular program, which is available across the state, is the HOME Plus program. It is a down payment assistance program that can either help with that initial payment, closing costs, or a combination of the two.
The Home in Five Advantage program is available for buyers in Maricopa County (areas of Phoenix). This initiative offers up to 6% for down payment assistance along with a loan that has more competitive rates. It is designed to help low to moderate-income families afford homes in the city.
Cosign with Someone Who Has Strong Credit
Sometimes a poor credit score can be a huge burden when applying for loans. Lenders do not want to take on too much risk, so they have minimum credit score requirements for approving a mortgage. This means getting loans with bad credit is not easy. If you have a bad score, then it might be hard to get favorable loan terms and a competitive interest rate.
The solution? Consider having a cosigner for your mortgage loan. This is someone who has a much higher credit score and trusts you to make all the payments on time. If you are unable to pay, then the lender will expect the cosigner to cover you. Taking advantage of this strategy can help you access better loan products that will cost you less in the long run.
Find a Path to Homeownership to Enjoy its Benefits
If affordability is the obstacle holding you back from homeownership, then you are missing out on many benefits. Building equity with each mortgage payment has far more positive results than making rental payments. In a home, you get to make upgrades that make the space more comfortable AND increase the property value. A home also grants greater privacy than most rental units. The options listed in this article can help you overcome the affordability obstacle so that you can start enjoying the many benefits of owning a home in Arizona.