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When ZeQuesha Holmes-Hutton started looking for homes in North Carolina, she knew she wanted to find one in her budget. “I wanted something I could afford and live my life and not just be working to pay my mortgage,” she says.
The problem: The homes that met her needs in Charlotte, where her daughter lived, were expensive and drew a lot of offers. Shopping largely online while still living in New Jersey, Holmes-Hutton perused about 150 homes. Eventually she broadened her search, considering houses farther away from the city.
Then Holmes-Hutton found the one: An older home in Troutman, about a half hour drive from Charlotte. When her real estate agent showed her the home, “It was like something clicked and it was like, ‘ZeQuesha, this is your house,’” she says. It was the third home she put an offer on, and for $275,000, it was hers.
ZeQuesha Holmes-Hutton (right) and her daughter, Tiayna Cedillo, in front of their new home in 2022.
Home prices have gone up dramatically in the last couple of years, with the median listing price topping $400,000 for the first time ever in March. The problem is that there aren’t enough houses on the market and too many people trying to buy. That leaves buyers in a tough position, having to compete with dozens of others for the few homes available, with bidding wars quickly driving prices to unaffordable levels. After facing that sticker shock of seeing your “dream home” might be out of reach, buyers are looking at what tradeoffs they have to make to become homeowners.
“My goal was to own a home,” Holmes-Hutton says. “It didn’t have to be the best home on the block. My goal was to accomplish being a homeowner.”
Experts say there are a few steps you can take when you find the prices you see on listings don’t match up with your budget. Here’s their advice.
Plan Before You Look
Buying a house is a big decision, and it requires preparation. Kelsey Wakefield, a realtor in Chico, California, says she starts her clients out with a buyer consultation to go over the process. Even before that, or at least before they start looking at homes, she wants them to talk to a mortgage lender about what they’re qualified for and how much house they can …….