For MA Affordable House Hunters, a 5-Step Approach

For MA Affordable House Hunters, a 5-Step Approach


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The economy is improving.  You are ready to buy a home but finding a Metro West and Boston affordable house is a challenge. Even though mortgage interest rates remain pegged at historically low levels, landing an “affordable” house in Boston (just as in the rest of the country) can take some doing. Here is one five-step approach that has rewarded house-hunters in the past:

  1. Define Affordable House in dollars

The first step to finding an affordable house should be to work out a target budget. The Wall Street Journal currently recommends spending no more than 28% of monthly income on your house. Monthly costs also include insurance, property taxes, utilities (especially if they are included in your current rent) and maintenance. Make sure to include additional fees such as legal fees and closing costs in your calculation. The bottom line you come up with isn’t one set in stone, but it’s a reasonable goal to have in mind.

  1. Set space requirements

Space will be a prime consideration for the entire time you’ll be living in your home. If you are planning on expanding the family in the near future, having a spare room is close to a necessity. If it’s just something that would be nice to have, it’s not a requirement—and recognizing the distinction can be all-important.

  1. Balance travel time against housing costs

Often you can offset the purchase price of a home by expanding your search radius to include a reasonable commute. Get out your pencil: you’ll need to compare the savings in the house payment against the additional cost of an extended commute.

  1. Include properties that need some TLC

One of the best ways to zero in on an affordable house in Boston is to keep an eye out for otherwise-eligible “fixer-uppers.” You can avoid any serious structural problems, such as plumbing, electrical, and roof issues, yet still focus on properties that just need a little cosmetic revamp can put you across the affordability finish line.

  1. Investigate home buying programs

In a limited number of instances, there are some generally underpublicized home buying programs that might be available. Massachusetts has several of these programs go to MassResources for more information. For instance, there is the Good Neighbor Next Door program which for teachers, medical professionals, firefighters, and law enforcement officers looking in revitalization areas, as much as a 50% discount from a HUD-listed property.  This program among others highlighted at the Massachusetts Housing Consumer Education Centers.

Most observers believe residential prices are likely to continue to rise—so it’s not outlandish to suspect that today’s Metro West and Boston affordable houses may become less so as time passes.

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