BUFFALO, N.Y. — It’s a tough market for people looking to buy a home.
Sales are slowing and prices are rising, according to the National Association of Realtors.
It’s led to the lowest affordability rates in 15 years and it's taking a lot for first-time homeowners to make that jump, but it’s still possible.
“This feels like the house," said Lynn Lasota. "I got the house that I was supposed to get.”
When you know, you know.
“The market that we had was really challenging. I looked all over,” Lasota said.
When it comes to today’s housing market, though, there’s a lot more that needs to be considered.
“I first started looking seriously in July of 2020, which I think was probably about right about when the market started really heating up,” Lasota recalled.
It took Lasota just under two years to find her home amid rising mortgage rates.
“I decided if interest rates [are] going up and taxes are probably going to be going up, I need to ... re-evaluate what I was doing,” she explained.
At age 51, she was tired of renting and managed to save money while taking care of her father and living with him.
“I just really couldn't see paying more every month in rent, and then not knowing where that was gonna leave me in a few years with rent going up or [...] landlords possibly selling houses," she explained.
After being outbid on two houses, and changing her mind on another, she ended up at her current home.
“This gives me some peace of mind," she said. "It's a place to call my own and I can make it my own.”
She didn’t get here without help though. Judy Russo, a licensed salesperson for Howard Hanna Real Estate, was right by her side. About 60% of Russo’s business comes from first-time homebuyers.
“It's important to educate your clients on what's going on, as well as yourself at times," she said. "If you work together and you have a good team, it can be done.”
Russo says there’s a lot of demand for the Buffalo area, but if you’re willing to compromise here and there, you can get it done.
“You may not get your dream kitchen, your dream bathroom," she said. "It's amazing what a coat of paint can do.”
Her main tips: save as much as you can and keep an eye on your credit.
“It's not impossible. [Remember], this is your first home," Russo explained. "Do the best you can and now you have equity so that if you're getting ready to purchase a second home, you've got something to start with.”
Beyond that, there can be wiggle room with home inspections, appraisal gaps and more.
“In 1935, the value [of this home] was $4,470 and the tax amount was $28.30,” said Lasota, looking over some of her new house's original paperwork. "You have to know all of this stuff and you have to be willing to entertain these things to hopefully get the house that you want."
For her, a place to host family, with a home office and yard, made all the stress worth it. She knows this is where she was meant to be.
“Even though I don't have any furniture here, I've noticed when I come here I just feel so happy and so calm,” Lasota added.
“It feels very calm, very happy. It feels like home.”
First-time homebuyers can also find support through New York state programs. That can help you get low interest rates and lower down payment requirements.
For more information, click here.