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Homebuying this winter is going to be very different

In a normal year, this is the time when home sales dip. In a normal year, this is when you can negotiate on getting the price a tad lower, and homes sit on the market longer because of the holidays. In a normal year, winter is typically a time when buyers have the advantage.

This is the winter, however, when all that flies out the window, according to Danielle Hale, Realtor's chief economist. "Normally winter is a good time for buyers," she says, but qualifies it by adding that because the coronavirus pandemic upended normal real estate patterns by keeping buyers at home last spring, it has created a pent-up demand for homes that are only now being felt and felt hard.

Minimum Down Payment for First-Time Homebuyers

Someone once asked me: With the way the economy has taken a toll on savings accounts, the traditional 20% down payment seems out of reach for many first-time home buyers like myself. Are more first-timers going the route of 5%-15% down payments? Or should I wait until I've got the 20% saved?

I can answer your question in two ways because you're asking two separate questions.

Getting Your Ducks in a Row When Buying Your First Home

Believe it or not, many a homebuyer who may have saved up meticulously for years for the down payment on a house can end up flat-footed after the close of escrow. Why? Because often they have not thought about the expenses of homeownership that have nothing to do with their monthly mortgage payment.