From Renter to Homeowner – How to Buy Your First Home

Karin Carr, Owner
Published on May 9, 2016


Canton rent prices are going up and up and there is no relief in sight. I know of a rental property off Sixes Rd. that rented in February 2015 for $1750/month is currently listed on the MLS for $2095!  (And no, they didn’t do any remodeling in between tenants.) This leaves renters with a high monthly payment yet no return on their investment.  Many people think it’s wise to rent as it’s usually less expensive, but is this really true?  Making the leap from renter to homeowner might be a little intimidating but it could very well save you some money in the short term and will definitely benefit you financially in the long run.

Over 85% of Americans who rent their homes consider their monthly rent to be a tremendous expense. But 75% of these Canton renters could probably save money each month if they owned their own homes.  So how do you know if it is more cost effective for you to buy as opposed to renting? Here are a few easy ways to find out if you are able to make the leap from renter to owner.

Research, research, research

Most real estate search engines have a mortgage calculator on their web site.  Find one of these calculators and type in a price of $150,000.  Google the going interest rate in Canton (right now it’s around 3.75% or less for most people) and how much you’d put down for your down payment.  3.5% of the purchase price is typical for first time buyers, so if you entered $150,000 for the sales price enter either 3.5% or $5250 for the down payment.  I’m coming up with right around $1000/month for the mortgage payment based on these figures.   If that’s more than what you’re paying, keep in mind the fact that:

  1. When you do your taxes you’re able to deduct several things if you’re a homeowner that you cannot deduct as a renter.  This lowers the amount you pay in taxes.
  2. If you buy in an appreciating market (as we’re in now in Canton and most of the surrounding areas,) meaning you buy and the value goes up over time, when you sell you’ll probably make a profit.  If you rent an apartment or a house for five years will you make $5000, $10,000, or more when you move?  That’s a big fat NO for those of you playing along at home.

Save, Save Save…

Gone are the days when you had to have 20% to put down to buy a home in Canton.  In the example above you’d only need $5250 for a down payment on a $150,000.  If you have 10% or 20% to put down, that’s fantastic!  Your payments will be lower and you’ll get a better interest rate too.  If you’re military you can buy with 0% down.  My husband was in the Air Force for 12 years and we were able to use his VA entitlement to buy our first home with no down payment.  If the seller will pay your closing costs you could very likely buy a home with almost no money out of pocket.

Do you have enough in your savings account?  What about a retirement fund?  You can often withdraw money from a retirement fund for the purpose of buying a house.  Or you could stop going to Starbucks 3-4 times a week and make your coffee at home.  (I know, I know, I shudder at the thought too.  Love me some white chocolate mochas!) That would save you almost $1000 in a year right there.  Could your parents give you $3000 to use toward a down payment?  What about Canton or Georgia down payment assistance programs?  There are lots of ways to come up with a down payment if we think outside the box.

House with money and keys

Check your credit score

Your credit score tells a lender how big of a risk you are when they give you a loan.  If you habitually pay your bills late and have creditors calling you, that’s not going to help you qualify for a mortgage.  Pay your bills on time, pay down the balances on your credit cards, and pay off car loans, furniture store loans, etc. if possible.  Carrying a balance of less than 40% of the available limit is ideal.

Credit Karma is a free website that lets you monitor your credit for free.  You can log in monthly and see what your score is doing.  It will tell you if your score is poor, fair, good, or excellent.  

Almost there, but not quite?

What about a rent to own program?  I do a ton of work with a large investment company that buys Canton homes (and Milton, Woodstock, Kennesaw, Roswell, and other surrounding towns too) to keep as rentals.  They will rent those homes to people who truly want to buy but don’t have the credit score or down payment saved up, and offer the opportunity to the tenant to buy the home at any time during the lease period.  The tenants choose which home they want the investor to buy!  So they’re not settling for bottom-of-the-barrel houses that no one else wanted.  In fact, the house has to be in good condition and be in a decent school district in order to qualify for the program.

Want more information?  Click here to get the details and eligibility requirements for the lease with an option to purchase program.


Our blog post Clean Up Your Credit Score to Buy a House can help you make the changes necessary to make you more desirable to lenders by increasing your credit score. The best thing you could do to keep your credit score from falling is making timely payments.  


Make the leap!

The lack of available rental properties in Canton is driving rents higher and higher each year.  It’s wise to start saving, improving your credit score, and finding out your options for buying.  Even saving $50/paycheck will add up to $1200/year or more.  Studies show that home ownership contributes to overall satisfaction with a person’s quality of life.  Not only could you be making money just by living in your home, you’d be happier too!  Ready to take the leap?  Contact me today to see if homeownership is within your reach!

Contact Us!

Sell Your Property With Us
Get Started Now