How Color Helps Sell Your Home

Yes! Just like curb appeal matters, the colors of your home can and will influence buyers. With that in mind, we explore which colors tend to appeal to the masses.

The color scheme of your home, from the outside in, sets the tone. It’s like going to see a theatre play and seeing an intricately crafted and appropriately painted set for the production. It can immediately intrigue you–before the play has begun and even if you know few details about the play.

When it comes to color, be sure to consider the location. A peach-pink home in a retirement community might be okay, but that same color in an upscale, urban city may be unappealing to younger city dwellers.

The outside of your home is one of the largest areas potential buyers will see. So make your decision carefully and be sure to have a professional paint job done. If you choose white for the exterior, your home is likely to appeal to the masses, according to one study that indicated upwards of 40 percent of people liked white homes.

The great thing about a white home is you have plenty of options to make the home stand out by using an accent color for the trim. The downside is that white gets dirty very fast and shows it more than other colors. So before you list your home, make sure that you have a fresh coat of paint applied or pressure wash the exterior to bring back that newly painted look.

Also take into consideration the color of other homes on the block. Typically, white will not look out of place. However, if you had a purple home on a block where the homes are mostly beige and neutral colors, you’ll get noticed but won’t likely get the kind of attention you want.

Beige with neutral-colored trim is another popular color scheme. Both beige and white are safe exterior colors. They don’t turn buyers off.

There’s also been a trend to paint just the front door a deep, rich color like red. This may not be appealing to all. However, buyers would tend to overlook it because it’s a simple change as well as one that can easily and cheaply be changed to the new buyer’s choice. As long as the colors look good together, this wouldn’t necessarily turn buyers away.

The paint inside your home is equally important. In fact, one good tip for sellers is that if they can do nothing else, they should get some fresh paint up on the walls. The new paint helps showcase the home and gives it a new-home feel.

There are a wide variety of interior colors. Don’t feel like you have to go with only beige. You can be a little more daring, using bold accent colors. Just make sure the paint colors you choose don’t give a dark, closed-in feeling. Aim to create comfort, a sense of calmness, relaxation, and a place where family can unwind. Earth-tone colors convey this very well.

For a more chic and sophisticated look, interior designers often choose from the grey palette. A dark grey color can create a bold statement and attract the eye to a particular area.

Whatever colors you choose, remember that your aim is to appeal to the masses. Test the colors out first. Get opinions from the experts.

Your real estate agent has likely been in hundreds of homes and can offer you some very good guidance.

WRITTEN BY REALTY TIMES STAFF

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Breaking Down The 50 Worst Cities To Live In

People looking to buy a new home or potentially relocate to a new city or state spend a lot of time checking out the “best of” lists to find out where the jobs, families, amenities, quality schools, and strong home values are. But have you considered the worst places to live?

You know, those cities where the home prices so far exceed the national average you need the income of a small, oil-rich country to afford to buy there?

Or one whose real estate market and/or job market is stagnant, or worse?

Or one with a crime rate that is enough to scare off (literally!) potential buyers?

There are also lists that outline where not to buy for these and various other reasons, like this one from 24/7 Wall St. that whittled down 550 cities into a scroll of “America’s 50 Worst Cities To Live In.” Their methodology was based on data “in nine major categories: crime, demographics, economy, education, environment, health, housing, infrastructure, and leisure.”

Many of the cities on the list are expected – places like Detroit that have been hard-hit by the economy and show few signs of recovery (more on that below). But, you might be surprised by the No. 1 city on their list of: Miami.


Miami Herald
“No city in the United States is worse to live in than Miami,” they said. “The city’s median home value of $245,000 is well above the national median of $181,200. However, with a median household income of only $31,917 a year, well below the national median of $53,657, most of these homes are either out of reach or a financial burden on most Miami residents.”

Unlike the images of seaside mansions and bikinied beachgoers that may spring to mind when you think of Miami, it turns out the city is not all glitz and glamour, thanks to a mindboggling disparity between the tippy-top of the city’s wealthy…and everyone else.

“According to recently released research from the nonprofit think tank the Economic Policy Institute, the top 1% of earners in the Miami metro area make about $2 million annually, 45 times greater than the average income of the other 99% of earners,” they said. “This earnings gap makes the metro area nearly the most unequal of any U.S. city.” The city’s crime rate is also a factor, with a “disproportionately large portion of Miami residents likely (to) experience” violent crime. The “rate of 1,060 incidents per 100,000 people is several times higher than the national rate.”

Second on the list, the aforementioned Detroit, whose problems have been well-documented. Low home values and a high poverty level, not to mention the city’s bankruptcy in 2013, make progress a challenge. But the high crime rate and educational issues might be the most upsetting factors.

“Although it’s hard to pick out the city’s biggest problem, crime is a worthy contender,” said Area Vibes, who named Detroit No. 1 on their list of worst cities. “A criminality rate that’s 155% above the national average will have residents huddled in their homes after dark. Detroit’s struggles extend to the classroom, with a bare 70% of area residents graduating from high school.”

Detroit was also No. 3 on Neighborhood Scout’s website of the Most Dangerous Cities. This site breaks out crime rates by violent and personal, and then further breaks down the data by type – a useful tool for those who want specific info related to cities they might be considering. East St. Louis, MI was No. 1 on their list of Most Dangerous Cities.


MLive
The rest of the “worst” according to 24/7 Wall St. include:

3. Patterson, NJ – “Like many American industrial cities, Paterson’s economy is no longer prospering as it once was,” they said. “More than 30% of the area’s residents live in poverty, nearly double the national poverty rate.”

4. Hawthorne, CA – “The poverty rate is not as high as in some other cities on the list, but the home values that are just astronomical make it near impossible for many of Hawthorne’s residents to afford a home,” said Cities Journal. “It should also be pointed out that Hawthorne is a very polluted city where the air is hazardous about 15 percent of the year. The national median is about 6 percent.”

5. Fall River, MA – “The median household income in Fall River is only $35,037, just roughly half the income a typical Massachusetts household earns and about $18,500 less than the income the typical American household earns,” said 24/7 Wall St.

6. Birmingham, AL – Low home values, low incomes and a poverty rate of 30.5% – almost double the rate across the country – put Birmingham on the list.

7. Memphis, TN – Despite its deep musical roots, Memphis has experienced hard times of late. About a third of those in the city are living in poverty and violent crime is nearly five times higher than the national rate.

8. Flint, MI – The city of Flint, Michigan “has seen more than its fair share of struggles in the past few years, said Business Insider. “It’s known as one of the most dangerous cities in America, and the poverty that afflicts the city is part of the reason its residents have been exposed to such dangerous levels of lead,” which led to a state of emergency in the city. Flint has the second – highest poverty rate of any city in the U.S., at approximately 40%.

9. Cleveland, OH – At just $24,701 a year, Cleveland’s median household income is the second lowest in the country, and its 39.2% poverty rate the fifth highest.

10. Gary IN – “Gary was called the murder capital of the world in the 1990s, but violent crime is down dramatically in Gary in recent years,” said Forbes on their list of Most Miserable Cities. Still, the city is “plagued by high foreclosures and migration out of the city.”

In fact, 24/7 Wall St. reports that, “Gary’s population is shrinking faster than that of any other U.S. city. The number of people that call Gary home has dropped by 26.7% in the last decade and by 25.5% in the last five years. A declining population is not especially surprising given the city’s bleak economic conditions.”

WRITTEN BY JAYMI NACIRI

7 Reasons You Should Buy Your Next Home Right Now

Get off the fence. This might be the best time to buy a home you’re going to see for a while. Here’s why.

Less competition for homes

Tired of having to duke it out for available homes and then losing out to higher offers? That’s a reality in many of today’s hot real estate markets, where bidding wars are the norm. In some micro-markets, all-cash offers are king. It’s hard to compete in that kind of environment, which is what makes the holiday season attractive to home buyers. Less activity during this season diminishes the competition, and can also help you get a deal.

“Since fewer people overall are looking to buy houses, you will have less competition for your preferred house — and this gives you leverage,” said moneytips. “Holiday home sellers often have to adjust their price downward or make other concessions if they want to sell. Keep this in mind as you search for homes. Bargains may be available, and listed prices may be more open to negotiation.”

Ben Carson

President-elect Trump’s nominee for the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) post has previously made a number of comments about the agency that could spell wide-sweeping changes for buyers, and not for the better.

Carson referred to Fair Housing as “communism in a 2015 Washington Times op-ed, saying that fair housing policies “mandated social-engineering schemes” that repeated a pattern of “failed socialist experiments in this country,” said the Wall Street Journal. That has housing insiders worried that affordable housing programs, and, specifically, low-rate mortgages from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac may take a hit.


Chaney Capital
Privatizing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac would greatly limit available mortgages and have an especially detrimental effect on low-rate mortgages that many buyers depend on to get into the market. “Carson’s appointment could also affect taxpayer-supported subsidized housing, which primarily helps homeless, low-income, and even senior Americans”, according to Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said Realtor.com.

Interest rates are on their way up

Even if you’re not ready to pull the trigger right this second, get pre-approved to lock in that interest rate now. That’s because rates have already risen some since the election, and all indications are that they’ll continue to rise after the new year.

And, of course, getting pre-approved will allow you to move quickly when you find a home you love instead of being held up by the bank and risking losing the home when someone who is pre-approved swoops in.

Because you’re ready to get your Joanna Gaines on

How badly do you want to rip out a kitchen and start over with something chic and pretty and chef-y in a place of your own? If you’re currently living in an apartment, you may not even have permission to paint the walls, let alone update the kitchen.

The good news about renovations, other than achieving a great new look, is that you can actually get loans to pay for them – and, the interest is a writeoff. “The IRS considers the interest on a home-improvement loan fully deductible, up to $100,000 in debt,” said MarketWatch.


Decoist
Loans to look for include the FHA’s 203(k) program and Fannie’s HomeStyle Renovation Mortgage. “Unlike credit lines, these renovation loans require borrowers to show that the money was spent on the house,” said Bankrate. “In the standard FHA 203(k) program, the borrower hires a consultant to assess the construction plan and to perform an inspection before each draw is made. A ‘draw’ happens when a portion of the money is disbursed to the contractor. Borrowers have up to six months to finish the project and are allowed up to five draws. The HomeStyle program does not require a consultant to monitor the work, only an initial and final inspection.”

The FHA 203(k) can be easier to qualify for, as credit scores can be as low as 660. The HomeStyle mortgage require a minimum 740 credit score for the best rates.

Tax savings

Unless you find a house tomorrow and close much more quickly than is standard today, you won’t be able to reap the tax benefits this year. But there’s always next year—and every year after that. And tax savings can be substantial, amounting to thousands of dollars you’re not saving now.

It’s probably still cheaper than renting

The tax savings associated with homeownership isn’t the only way to save money. “It’s cheaper to own rather than rent in all but eight states and Washington, D.C., according to a GOBankingRates.com study of rent and mortgage costs,” said MSN.

When calculating the difference between renting and owning, make sure you look at as much of an apples-to-apples comparison as possible. Oftentimes, when people are looking at rent, they fail to factor in renter’s insurance, security deposits, pet deposits, and annual rental increases. Those numbers can add up.

Predictable payments

Tired of that rent going up every year? Yeah, that stinks. If you live in Seattle, your rent is forecasted to rise another 7.2% this year, according to Business Insider. In Portland, it’s 6% and Denver 5.9%. Those are the cities that are predicted to have the sharpest rises across the country.

Unless you have an adjustable rate mortgage, which isn’t popular in today’s low-interest-rate, 30-year-fixed mortgage world, or you cash out your equity and raise your principle at some point, your mortgage payment will remain your mortgage payment through the life of your loan. With so many other unknowns and intangibles, it’s nice to know that what’s probably your largest monthly payment is always the same.

WRITTEN BY JAYMI NACIRI

Landscaping Tips That Will Wow Buyers

Your front yard is the red carpet inviting buyers into the beauty that is your home. If it’s rugged, messy and unkempt, buyers will take one look and then keep on driving to the next property on their list. Don’t let that happen by making your front yard luscious and as amazing as the inside of your home.

What areas should you focus on in your front yard? Where do you start? To help you break down the revitalization of your front yard, here are the steps you should take:

1. Cut the grass.

Buyers don’t want to trudge through high grass as though they were in the Amazon or on a safari in Africa. This means the lawn mower needs to be out at least once a week if not every other week, keeping it trimmed and maintained. It also needs to be green so it looks alive and lush. Water so the sun doesn’t dry out the lawn and turn it yellow or brown. A professional landscapercan help maintain a balance of trimming and growth so it looks just right for buyers.

2. Plant more shade trees.

One or two trees in the front yard are all right, but if you want to really add some shade, plant more. Shade trees will detract from the glare of the sun, and it can help decrease the temperature of the house if they’re placed close to windows. It also will help keep the lawn green with moisture. You can plant trees that are shorter and will grow by the time the new owner buys the home, but be sure they’re strong and can handle the climate.

3. Install outdoor lighting.

Outdoor lighting is a good way to both illuminate the house at night and accent parts of your yard. Depending on where you install the lights, your house will look very appealing at night to those buyers who might not have time to do their shopping during the day. Outdoor lighting also helps to illuminate a path like a sidewalk to get from the curb to your front door for easier navigation. It helps to accent the beauty of your landscaping which all together increases the beauty of your home.

4. Consider adding flowers for more color.

If your front yard has a lot of greenery, you should increase the yard appeal by adding more colors. Flowers are a great and simple way to do this, as well as shrubbery with different blooms. Perennials are the best for this because they last for more than a year, which means less maintenance for the seller and the new homeowner. They come in a wide variety of colors and types so the yard can be decorated with any number of them while still requiring less maintenance.

5. Keep everything clean!

In addition to keeping the lawn trimmed, everything else should be clean. Anywhere that can build up dirt or grime – siding, porch, front door, driveway – should be cleaned on a regular basis. Buyers don’t want to see a lot of dirt and mess, and it will detract from them wanting to walk into the house. So take a broom, a power washer and a few hours on the weekend to keep everything sparkling clean. Don’t have a power washer? A professional power washing service can cost as little as $293.

Photos courtesy of DesignMine

WRITTEN BY REALTY TIMES STAFF

7 Important Steps To Help You Buy Your First Home In 2017

Thinking about buying your first home? What an exciting time this is bound to be. And, also, what a (potentially) overwhelming, confusing, and stress-filled time. It can easily veer into scary territory if you’re not prepared and not surrounding yourself with professionals who can help guide you in the right direction.

These seven tips can help you make that dream of homeownership come true in 2017.

1. Work with the right real estate agent

The guy next door or your brother’s girlfriend’s cousin who just got his real estate license may be hungry to get your business, but that doesn’t mean he’s your best bet. An experienced agent quite simply knows things that someone who is brand new probably doesn’t. An experienced agent will also have important relationships in place that may be able to help buyers in every facet of the home purchase, including:

Finding houses that aren’t even listed yet

Finding homes that may be slightly outside of a buyer’s criteria but that are worthy of consideration

Leveraging industry relationships to get you great deals or better terms

Managing appraisals and inspections

Working through every step of the purchase process and handling any issues that pop up along the way

Negotiating a deal that works for both sides


realtymyths.com
2. Don’t be afraid to talk to multiple lenders

Your Realtor will most likely have several lenders they have worked with and can refer you to. You may also want to speak to loved ones and get a referral or two from someone they’ve worked with successfully. Each lender may have a different recommendation and/or knowledge of a special loan that works for you, so it makes sense to look at a few different options.

3. Mind your credit

Many people have no idea what their credit score is, but if you’re thinking about buying a home, knowledge is power. Different loans have different minimum credit score requirements, and it could be that your score doesn’t measure up for the best loan rates, or maybe you need to do some work to qualify for even the most lenient loan.

A good mortgage lender can advise you on your best options to raise your score, from removing any errors on your credit report, to paying any delinquent accounts, to exploring credit repair options. The earlier you learn your score and delve into the details with a qualified lender, the more time you have to address any issues you find.


Total Mortgage
4. Save, save, save

For many people, getting the down payment together is the hardest part of buying a home. And the closing costs can be an unwelcome surprise for those who weren’t expecting to have to come up with even more cash. When you first set out to buy a home, make sure you know how much you have to save. Your lender should be able to give you a pretty good ballpark based on a certain home price. Housing experts recommend adding 5% to that number just to be safe.

Even if you’ve never been a great saver in the past, there are strategies you can use that will help you build the nest egg you need for your down payment and closing costs, including these tips from nerdwallet:

  • Automatic transfers from your checking account to your savings can help to make the process mandatory – and maybe a little less painful.
  • Save raises and bonuses rather than spending them.
  • Set aside tax refunds.
  • Keep the change. At least a couple of banks have variations on this theme. For example, Bank of America allows debit card users to sign up for a service that rounds up purchases to the nearest dollar and puts the change into a linked savings account.
  • Visualize your goal. Slap big, beautiful photos of your dream house on the refrigerator, near your office workspace – and wrap a small one around the primary credit card in your wallet. You might charge less and save more.”

As for where to put that money while you watch it grow, experts recommend that “If the plan is to become a homeowner in the next 12 months, the money should be kept completely liquid. That means you can easily access it at any time,” said CNN Money. “The best way to do that is in a good old-fashioned savings account, Schulte said. Look for one with a higher yield. In today’s low rate environment, that probably means an online-only account like Ally or Synchrony Bank, which currently pay around 1% annually.”

5. Lock in your rate

Rates can be unpredictable. Locking in a rate when you get close to buying, which your lender will undoubtedly recommend, can protect you if rates rise. Many lenders also offer a one-time adjustment in case rates go down.


huffingtonpost
6. Stay at your job

Not happy at work and thinking about making a change? If you’re looking to buy a home, you may have to delay that plan. Part of your qualification for a mortgage will be based on your job history. Making a big change just before you buy or during the escrow process will be problematic. Lenders advise buyers to stay the course until after the home closes escrow.

7. Don’t open new credit cards or buy a new car

Your lender will spell out the do’s and don’ts of how to protect your credit when trying to buy a house, but if you haven’t yet talked to anyone and you think you’re getting close to be purchase-ready, that Kohl’s card you take out to save 20% on your $100 bill could cost you. Before you take out any new debt, check with a lender.

WRITTEN BY JAYMI NACIRI

Staging vs. Decorating: What’s the Difference?

Selling your home means selling a lifestyle, but not necessarily your own. In home staging, you’re striving for a look that is fresh and welcoming yet not really taste specific. People with varying tastes need to feel that they can make the home their own if they purchase it.

This is the distinction between decorating your home and staging it to sell. It can be hard to understand at first, but if you don’t know the difference, you might not sell your house as quickly as you like.

Although everyone has different tastes in decor and furnishings, most people want a home that is welcoming, functional, peaceful and organized. Tailor your house so that buyers will describe it in those terms rather than by your style of decorating. Getting rid of clutter and having fewer but larger accessories is a great place to start.

Making sure your home isn’t taste specific doesn’t mean your rooms should be devoid of color. Instead, keep color schemes simple and dose them with an on-trend neutral, like a clean tan, a soft gray or a warm white.

Fresh & Neutral Brentwood Home

If you have a distinctive decorating style — whether it’s Tuscan, shabby chic or modern — you’re going to need to scale it back a bit. If you don’t, your home will appeal to the small percentage of potential buyers who love your chosen style. Staging is about strategic editing and depersonalizing, rather than decorating and personalizing.

Gustavian Bedroom

Dated is dreary. Strive to stage your space with a current and fresh feel. Use updated neutrals on the walls and furnishings that are clean-lined and simple. Punches of color are great; just use them sparingly. A room arranged symmetrically and centered on the architecture reads as peaceful — one of those important aesthetics every buyer is drawn to.

Bauman Photographers

This guest bedroom is full of great staging ideas. It has lots of on-trend design details, but it’s sparse on accessories and other distractions. The color palette is simple, easy on the eyes and would be attractive to both men and women. Most potential buyers would remember this appealing room long after leaving the house.

Interior Repaint by Warline Painting

This clever arrangement draws attention to the unique architecture in the space and illustrates a smart use for the area under the stairs: an office nook. This area is nicely decorated, not staged.

If I were staging this area, I would keep the desk, chair and lamp, remove overly personal items such as family photos, and leave a few pieces of art and an attractive notebook and pen. Simple accessories can help draw attention to a functional space.

If you are updating a kitchen or bath before putting your home on the market, keep the finishes neutral and classic. This is not the time to show off your personal style. You want to broaden your buying audience by appealing to a wide variety of tastes and preferences. This bathroom would definitely appeal to buyers with either traditional or contemporary taste, and could later be personalized with the new homeowner’s preferences for color and accessories.

Refined Rustic Master Bath Remodel: Ambler, PA

Sure, this may not be what normally sits on your countertop, but doesn’t it look better than the usual bills and coupons? Remember, you are selling an idealized lifestyle, not your reality.

The bottom line is that you have to get outside your head and inside the mind of a potential home buyer. It’s very difficult to be objective about your own home, but it’s crucial if you want to sell it.

Cottage and Vine

WRITTEN BY KRISTIE BARNETT, HOUZZ

Is Now The Best Time Ever To Buy Your First Home?

If you’ve been thinking about buying your first home, talk of rising mortgage rates may have you worried. But, the reality is that this may be one of the best opportunities for first-time buyers in recent memory. Conditions were already good for first-timers with new, super-low down payment loans. But the FHA’s announcement that they would be cutting mortgage-insurance premiums makes buying even more advantageous.

“The annual fees the Federal Housing Administration charges to guarantee mortgages it backs are being cut by a quarter of a percentage point,” said Bloomberg of a statement released by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). “With the reduction, the annual cost for most borrowers will be 0.60 percent of the loan balance.”

According to HUD, “The fee cut would save new FHA-insured homeowners an average of $500 this year. The cut would take effect on Jan. 27.”

What other factors should you be paying attention to if you’re looking to buy your first home?

Mortgage rates

Yes, rates are up from their lowest point. But the average 30-year fixed-mortgage rate right now is 4 percent, down a bit this week and waaaaaay down from decades ago when they were in the teens. You’ll pay a few bucks more per month now than you would have at this time last year, but, if you’re getting an FHA loan, those new mortgage interest cuts will help.


The Winning Team
More than anything, it’s important to be realistic. We’re not anywhere near gloom-and-doom time, despite some of the more hysterical talk out there. In fact, today’s rates are still near historic lows, which make buying a home more affordable than rent in many cities.

But, if you need to find a way to lower your monthly payment on your future home, and you’re not eager to search for less expensive homes, remember that your credit helps determine your mortgage-worthiness, and the better it is, the better your interest rate. If you’re not being offered the best rate out there, it’s time to…

Get your credit in order

Have great credit? Great! Your lender will be pleased and, presumably, you will be, too. But many of us need some help in this area, and even a small bump in your score can make a big difference not just to the rate you get but also whether you will qualify for a loan at all.

“The homebuyer’s credit score is among the most important factors when it comes to qualifying for a loan these days,” said Bankrate. Your lender will be able to give you tips for improving your score, which can range from checking your report for errors to paying off old delinquent accounts.

It’s also important to keep in mind that what you consider to be responsible credit management may not necessarily be seen as a positive when you go to qualify for a loan. “Just because you pay everything on time every month doesn’t mean your credit is stellar,” they said. “The amount of credit you’re using relative to your available credit limit, or your credit utilization ratio, can sink a credit score. The lower the utilization rate, the higher your score will be. Ideally, first-time homebuyers would have a lot of credit available, with less than a third of it used.”

BankrateLow down payment loans

For many first-time buyers, the down payment is the largest barrier to homeownership. But new loans with lower down payment requirements are helping to eliminate it.

The most popular loan for first-time homebuyers continues to be through the FHA, for a number of reasons: Because this loan is government-backed and because it requires only 3.5 percent down if you meet their credit and income requirements, and a minimum of a 620 credit score.

The new Affordable Loan Solution Mortgage from Bank of America gets those down payments even lower—to three percent—and without Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI). But, there are restrictions related to income that “could rule out a lot of potential borrowers,” said The Street.

“The program, a partnership between Bank of America, Freddie Mac, and non-profit Self-Help Ventures Fund, is targeted towards low – and moderate – income borrowers. To qualify, borrowers can’t make more than the HUD area median income and must have a credit score of 660 or higher. As an example, for 2016, New York City-based borrowers with a household of one would need an income below $65,200 to qualify for the program.”

SoFi, an online lender that started out focusing on student loan refinancing, has also gotten into the mortgage game, offering a loan that has a higher down payment at 10 percent, but without PMI.

Investigate situation-specific loans

Are you a veteran, a police officer, or a firefighter? There may be a special loan for you with conditions that can make purchasing a home easier and more affordable. There are also specific loans for those who are buying a home that has (or needs) energy-efficient features, one that can be bundled with home improvement funds, and another from the USDA that can save those who are moving to a rural area money.

“This one may surprise you,” said nerdwallet. “The U.S. Department of Agriculture has a homebuyers assistance program. And no, you don’t have to live on a farm. The program targets rural areas and allows 100% financing by offering lenders mortgage guarantees. There are income limitations, which vary by region.”

WRITTEN BY JAYMI NACIRI