**This is a post written by Grant Beck of Next Step® Network, Inc. and sponsored by Clayton Homes®
Luckily, Next Step® Network, Inc. – a nonprofit organization working to support affordable homeownership opportunities – and Clayton Homes® have your back when it comes to your home buying journey. Here are some simple steps you can take when shopping for your manufactured home so that you can maximize your investment!
Set Realistic Expectations
There are so many different types of homes in today’s market. When setting out to begin your search, know what you need and what you can afford.
When considering how much square footage you need in your home, think realistically. Take into account your existing furniture (and furniture you plan to buy). Do you need additional storage space? If so, how much? Also, think about your longer term family plans. Do you plan to grow your family? Is there a possibility of taking in an older family member? These are all questions to ask as you think about how much house you really need.
Determining your budget before you start shopping for a home will help greatly with successful homeownership – and reduce the possibility of stress and disappointment. Buy a home that fits into your budget. Some monthly payments plans may sound reasonable and within reach, but loan terms and interest rates can vary greatly and impact the total amount you pay for your home over time.
Most experts recommend not spending more than 30 percent of your take home pay on housing. For example: If you are making $2,800 per month, you should try to keep your monthly housing costs around $840. This will vary based on where you live, but these are all considerations you should take into account as you plan your home purchase.
Explore Your Financing Options
There are several ways that you can finance your factory-built home, depending on what kind of home you buy and where you plan to place your home. Speak with a trusted advisor – someone who has a sense of your finances and needs – before making any financing decisions.
Be sure to speak to a few lenders and compare rates before shopping for a home. Local lenders such as community banks and credit unions in your town can be a great resource. Getting pre-qualified for a home loan will give you a better understanding of what you can afford, and help avoid the stress of shopping for homes outside of your budget.
If you find that you are unable to get pre-qualified for a loan, don’t be discouraged! There are counseling and homebuyer education programs available to help.
Go Energy Efficient to Save and Help the Planet
Green building practices are making homes and buildings more efficient every day, and your off-site built home is no exception! Investing in a more energy-efficient home is a smart decision, for both your wallet and the environment.
Homes that are built to more energy-efficient standards, such as ENERGY STAR® certified homes* or Clayton’s Energy Smart Home package, can save you a lot on your monthly utility bills. Plus, all new Clayton Built® homes come with an ecobee smart thermostat that can help regulate your heating and cooling bills!
Many homes today can be updated to a more energy-efficient package. Increased energy efficiency boosts value – and can be a powerful investment. Talk to the home consultant you are working with for more information.
Also, be sure to ask if there is a rebate available for upgrading to an ENERGY STAR® certified home – as some utility companies and power cooperatives offer rebates for home buyers.
Keeping Your Home in Top Shape
After you’ve successfully made your home purchase, it’s important to keep it well maintained to protect (and potentially grow!) your investment.
But you don’t have to be a trained professional to keep up with the basics around the house. Small, everyday actions (like general housekeeping) can go a long way to keeping your home in great shape. Even for smaller DIY projects, Clayton has you covered with their Home Care Guide. Next Step also has a YouTube playlist with helpful maintenance information.
Know your limitations as well. Some projects will require professional help. Be sure to have some funds set aside for routine home maintenance.
Let Us Help
Need a little more support? We’ve got you covered!
If you’re concerned about your financial situation, Next Step® may be able to help. They have nonprofit counseling professionals on hand, and programs and resources that can set you up for homebuying success.
Clayton’s Home Buyer’s Guide is great place to start and help get you organized.
**ENERGY STAR® is a registered trademark owned by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. All trademarks are the property of their respective owners.