5 common keto mistakes people make

Let’s be honest: There’s certainly an appeal to a diet where its A-OK to eat steak, nibble on cheese cubes and slather butter on your veggies. Also, you probably know someone who preaches the low-carb keto gospel after losing significant weight in a short amount of time. For these reasons, it’s no surprise Google trends showed searches for the keto diet quadrupled in recent years.

For the uninitiated, though, keto is a low-carb, moderate protein and high-fat diet. To get specific, those who follow the diet aim to get 60 to 75 percent of their calories from fat, 15 to 30 percent from protein and just 5 to 10 percent from carbohydrates. The idea here? Push your body into ketosis, a metabolic state that allows your body to stop using glucose for energy so it instead burns fat.

Doctors and registered dietitians, though, see people making a lot of mistakes with the diet, especially when it comes to overdoing it on those aforementioned juicy steaks and going crazy with the cheese. Also, many don’t recommend the diet for their patients, partly because it’s a hard diet to execute and maintain and many people miss the mark when it comes to healthy eating while on keto.

“People can make a number mistakes when it comes to keto, from eating too much protein to not eating enough healthy fats,” says Chelsea Amengual, a registered dietitian and manager of fitness programming and nutrition at Virtual Health Partners. “One of the more consequential mistakes would be not including enough non-starchy vegetables, which will limit fiber and valuable micronutrients.”

Here’s why people lose weight on keto, as well as some tips for avoiding common keto pitfalls.

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Why Do People Lose Weight Quickly On Keto?

Much of the initial weight loss on keto is water weight, explains Kim Yawitz, a registered dietitian nutritionist with McDaniel Nutrition Therapy in St. Louis.

Let’s get into the science. When we eat carbs, our body breaks them down to glucose and then converts them to glycogen, the storage form of carbohydrates, explains Yawitz. For every gram of glycogen, our bodies store 3 to 4 grams of water, she says.

“We tend to shed that water as we use up our glycogen stores on very low carb diets,” Yawitz explains. That’s also why it’s easy to gain weight back after reintroducing carbs after a period of very-low-carb dieting.

While Yawitz says she appreciates that some people do really well on keto, she doesn’t recommend the diet because she doesn’t believe it’s a sustainable approach to healthy eating.

“It can be really challenging, especially in social settings, to avoid carbs altogether,” she says. “And, once you return to eating carbs, you’re likely to regain the weight you’ve lost.”

Beyond the initial water loss (which can motivate people), some lose weight quickly on ketogenic diets because they’ve cut out the empty calorie sources, such as refined grains and added sugars, that many people tend to overeat, says registered dietitian nutritionist Summer Yule.

“This includes items like cookies, cakes, candies, soda, pies, white bread and so on,” Yule says. “They may replace these foods with foods that are more nutrient-dense and filling, such as non-starchy vegetables and protein-packed meats.”

Also, some people may consume less simply because they have fewer food options.

“It is much easier to overeat when there are a variety of foods available — think of a buffet where you may wish to try one of everything — versus when only a couple of types of food are offered at a meal,” Yule says.

When people do practice keto properly and consistently, though, the diet can help increase the amount of fat you burn, explains Dr. Khalid Saeed, a private practitioner in the Tampa Bay, Florida, area. The high-protein intake that’s part of the diet can boost metabolism and engage weight-regulating hormones. Also, ketogenic diets can help you feel full longer, he says.

However, health professionals see people making some common mistakes with the keto diet and have suggestions for what to do instead.

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Mistake No. 1: Over-Indulging On Steak And Other Meats

Animal proteins tend to be higher in saturated fats, which raise your low-density lipoprotein, or “bad” cholesterol, levels and increase your risk for heart disease, Yawitz says. Certain animal proteins, like red meats and processed meats, can also increase your risk for gout and kidney stones because they increase production of certain acids in the blood and in the urine, she explains.

Healthier sources of dietary fat include nuts, seeds, avocado and olives, Yawitz says.

“I also recommend a couple of servings per week of fatty fish, like salmon, to boost intake of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids,” she says.

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Mistake No. 2: Not Eating Enough Veggies

“Easily the biggest mistake people make on the keto diet is not eating enough vegetables,” says Dr. Kyle Varner, a physician specializing in internal medicine. “Yes, keto is a high fat, moderate protein and low-carb diet, but that certainly doesn’t mean you should overindulge. Eating half a pound of cheese and four beef patties as a meal isn’t healthy by any standards.”

Varner says he lost 50 pounds by following the keto diet. A healthy keto diet, he says, should consist of a lot more veggies than meat by volume — especially phytonutrient rich, leafy green vegetables (think: spinach, kale, Brussels sprouts).

“If you look at my average keto meal, it is mostly green,” he says.

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Mistake No. 3: Thinking It’s The Best Diet Out There

Yes, keto is popular right now. But, don’t expect dietitians to tell you it’s the best diet.

The Mediterranean Diet and DASH Diet are two of the best diets based on evidence-based research, says Jonathan Valdez, a registered dietitian nutritionist and New York City and Long Island media representative with the New York State Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, or DASH diet, and the Mediterranean Diet prioritize whole grains, fruits, vegetables and lean meats while limiting red meats.

Valdez says it’s possible the food restrictions people take on when following the keto diet could lead to deficiencies of potassium, fiber, magnesium, calcium, most B vitamins and phosphorous. These deficiencies are especially common when people limit fruits and veggies.

He recommends checking in with a dietitian when you’re new to a diet or trying a new way of eating. You can do this virtually with MealShare, an app that allows you take photos of your food so a dietitian can provide tailored guidance to help you improve your meals.

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Mistake No. 4: Eating Too Many Processed Foods

When you’re eating out and following the keto diet, processed meats, such as pepperoni and sausages, as well as cheeses tend to be readily available options. But eating too much of these isn’t healthy, cautions Tanya Frierich, registered dietitian nutritionist.

“Processed meats have preservatives that are known to increase the risk of stomach cancer, while cheeses are fine in moderation but are higher in saturated fats that are linked with increasing inflammation in the body,” she says.

Instead, scan the menu and look for healthier dishes that feature fatty fish, olives and avocados and low-carb veggies like kale, spinach, cauliflower and broccoli.

When you’re grocery shopping, Frierich recommends looking at ingredient lists to find the least-processed options. For example, a sugar-free, nitrate-free bacon with two to three ingredients is a better choice than a bacon with 15 to 20 ingredients including preservatives, nitrates, nitrites and additives.

Frierich is also a proponent of MealShare, because you can get real-time recommendations from dietitians, which is helpful for those navigating new menu plans.

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Mistake No. 5: Not Getting Enough Fiber

Beans and whole grains aren’t part of the keto diet, so it’s important to make sure you’re getting enough fiber from non-starchy vegetables like spinach, says registered dietitian Kristin Kirkpatrick. “Consider tracking how your fiber intake changes when switching to keto in an app like Lose It!,” says Kirkpatrick, who is an advisor for the weight-loss app.

Some other low-carb sources of fiber include broccoli, cauliflower and asparagus.

This article originally appeared on SimpleMost.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

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The most popular cars in these western states

Car buyers in the west have a host of extreme weather conditions to consider. This vast region of the U.S. experiences regular rain, fog, snow and sometimes drought.

Here are the top cars for these western states.

Image Credit: Chevrolet.

1. Alaska

  • Most Shopped for Subaru: Legacy
  • Most Shopped for Chevrolet: Silverado 1500
  • Most Shopped for Toyota: Rav4

Image Credit: Subaru Legacy / Subaru.

2. Idaho

  • Most Shopped for Subaru: Outback
  • Most Shopped for Chevrolet: Silverado 1500
  • Most Shopped for Toyota: 4Runner

Image Credit: Subaru.

3. Montana

  • Most Shopped for Subaru: Forester
  • Most Shopped for Chevrolet: S​ilverado 1500
  • Most Shopped for Toyota: 4Runner

Image Credit: Toyota.

4. Oregon

  • Most Shopped for Subaru: Forester
  • Most Shopped for Chevrolet: Silverado 1500
  • Most Shopped for Toyota: 4Runner

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5. Washington

  • Most Shopped for Subaru: Outback
  • Most Shopped for Chevrolet: S​ilverado 1500
  • Most Shopped for Toyota: Rav4

Fun Fact: Washington car shoppers sought out more Jeep Grand Cherokees than Alaska, Idaho, Oregan and Wyoming combined!

Image Credit: Toyota.

6. Wyoming

  • Most Shopped for Subaru: Outback
  • Most Shopped for Chevrolet: Silverado 1500
  • Most Shopped for Toyota: Rav4

Image Credit: Chevrolet.

Dealing with extreme heat and drought

As a car buyer, you’ll need to keep weather patterns in mind when you’re shopping around for a car; the wrong car could end up costing you more to maintain in the long run.

In 2021, parts of this region experienced record-shattering heat. If your next vehicle may be exposed to increasingly rising temperatures, you’ll need to consider the following features.

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1. Battery

Heat can place a car battery under extra strain. But some batteries are built to withstand higher temperatures than others. In extreme heat, the ideal battery is an absorbed glass mat (AGM) battery. If an AGM doesn’t fit into your car-buying budget, let the dealer know you’re interested in something that’s fitted for hot weather.

If you’re among the growing number of shoppers who are looking for an older vehicle model, consider having a technician test the battery fluid as part of the inspection. In parts of the U.S. it’s not usually necessary to replace a car battery under five years old, but in extended heatwaves, a battery may need replacing after just three years.

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2. Interior cooling

Even in mild heat, a car interior can heat up to life-threatening temperatures. There’s no set temperature threshold for danger to passengers, but a vehicle’s interior can reach 115 degrees and higher when it’s only 70 degrees outside. At 90 degrees, the interior can climb above 130.

Most vehicles have an air conditioning system that will last around 100,000 miles or more. Beyond inspecting for reliable A/C, these additional cooling features might be worth shopping for in extreme heat:

  • Remote start

  • Ventilated seats

  • Automatic climate control

  • Roof vent diffusers

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For rain and snow

Parts of the west saw above-average rainfall and daily ice in 2021. If you plan to drive your next can in wet or snowy conditions, these are the features to look for.

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1. Drivetrain

For driving in snow, rain or even heavy winds, two-wheel drive isn’t a practical choice. All-wheel drive (AWD) offers improved acceleration and better handling over ice and sleet, and it can even help with traction on gravel and grass. Some AWD models come with optimized modes for snow or ice, but for more rugged or off-road conditions, consider four-wheel drive (4WD).

About half of all vehicles sold in the U.S. are now equipped with AWD or 4WD, so as a buyer, you won’t be limited to just trucks or SUVs. If you have to upgrade trims for the drivetrain you want, expect it to add an average of $2,000 to your purchase price.

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2. Tires

Tires are the only part of a vehicle that touches the road, so having the right set can be even more useful for handling than having the right drivetrain. Traction can be a major issue in wet conditions. For superior grip, opt for winter or snow tires, which expel snow and stand up to freezing conditions.

If the vehicle has used tires, don’t skip on inspecting the tread. Tread on snow and winter tires wears quickly, and tires with shallow tread or heavy or uneven wear will need to be replaced. During the test drive, look for other tire problems like thumping, vibrating or steering that pulls hard to one side.

If you’re purchasing a new model, check to see if the car has the right tires for the season. At purchase, you can also try negotiating with the dealer to get some of the tire maintenance covered and even ask if a dealer will match or beat tire replacement deals you find elsewhere.

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3. Brake systems

Brake systems and other driver assistance technologies save tens of thousands of lives every year. These are the most useful systems for braking in rough conditions. Note that different manufacturers have their own names for some of these technologies, and they may not be available in models older than 2012:

  • Automatic emergency braking systems (AEBS): The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends this potentially safety technology, which includes dynamic brake support and crash imminent braking.

  • Anti-lock brakes (ABS) help reduce skidding and jackknifing on slippery surfaces. ABS can stop a car faster than a professional driver but still prevent individual wheels from locking up when you brake. Having ABS can also decrease your insurance premium.

  • Electronic stability control (ESC) uses sensors to reduce skidding in wet conditions and can help prevent top-heavy cars from rolling over.

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4. Ground clearance

Driving through snow, rocky terrain and mud is easier when there’s more distance between the vehicle’s body and the ground. Buying an SUV or truck isn’t the only way to handle winter driving, but an SUV might clear eight or more inches of snow, while just four inches could keep a sedan off the road. For rough terrain, a minimum ground clearance of 8.5 inches or more is recommended.

There are a number of good reasons to shop around for a new vehicle, including changes in the weather and safety concerns. But if your goal is to get out of your current car loan, financing a new vehicle might not be the best solution. Check out these tips for paying off your auto loan faster and see if there’s a better alternative to buying a new car.

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Solar panel financing in 4 ways

Installing solar panels in your home can be one way to do your part for the planet, but the cost to purchase and have them installed might be a deterrent.

Even if you know you’ll save money over the long term, it may be hard to find the funds for solar panels in the interim.

Before you make a decision either way, a couple of things to consider are whether solar panels are worth the cost to you and what methods are available for solar panel financing.

Related: How much does it cost to remodel a house?

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The cost of solar panels

When it comes to the cost of solar panels, there isn’t a fixed number. How much it will cost will depend on how big a system you want to install. In 2021, it’s estimated that the cost is typically around $3 per watt for a complete solar panel system with installation. Since the average buyer installs a 6,200-watt system, the cost averages $18,600 per system. However, if you decide that you need more watts because you have a bigger family or a bigger home, the cost of solar panels will run higher.

Similarly, if you have a smaller family or a smaller home, solar panels might cost you less. Either way, buying solar panels can be expensive, and it may require some kind of solar power financing to purchase panels.

Image Credit: Lari Bat/ istockphoto .

Potential benefits of solar panels

One of the main benefits of solar panels is the potential to reduce or completely eliminate your energy bills. Depending on how much sunlight there is where you live, how many panels you install and your energy use, you could potentially receive enough power through solar panels to completely meet your needs.

Installing solar panels could result in significant savings, especially if you live in an area where power is expensive. Given that the average monthly U.S. household energy costs are about $122, that easily could translate into significant savings.

Even with the cost of solar panel installation, the expense of the purchase can be recouped in an average of eight to 11 years, depending on your installation costs, how much electricity your panels produce, how much electricity costs in your area, and how your local electric company regulates solar power. After recouping installation costs, the amount you’ll potentially save over the life of your panels can also add up.

Another benefit of solar panels is the potential to increase the resale value of your home. Research has shown that, on average, the resale value of a home with solar panels increases by about $15,000.

Solar panels are also known to extend the life of a roof since they shelter the roof and protect it from damage in storms and everyday wear and tear. If a homeowner plans to replace their home’s entire roof at the same time as a solar panel installation, it’s less likely that they’ll need to re-roof during the solar panel lifetime.

For some people, one of the biggest benefits of installing solar panels, however, is knowing that they’re using renewable energy and helping to reduce greenhouse gasses. This could especially be important for those living in a state where the majority of the energy generated is through non-renewables power sources.

Image Credit: shironosov/ istockphoto .

Potential drawbacks of solar panels

Solar panels have the potential to save homeowners money and do a lot of good for the planet, but not everyone buys them because they do tend to have a large upfront cost. And while solar power financing can help make solar energy possible for more people, not everyone qualifies.

Another drawback to solar energy is that how much you can save on energy costs depends entirely on the weather. If there is a long stretch of overcast weather or if you live in an area that doesn’t get a lot of sun, for example, you might not be able to generate enough solar energy to take care of your energy needs.

Battery storage systems have vastly improved in the last decade, however, and can improve the overall solar setup.

Solar energy also uses a lot of space, so make sure your roof is large enough to have enough panels to power your entire home. If you choose not to put them on your roof, they will take up space in your yard.

Image Credit: RoschetzkyIstockPhoto/ istockphoto .

Saving money by installing solar panels

More than 2.5 million homeowners in America currently have solar panels—and the savings can quickly add up. Not only can solar panels last for 25 years or longer, but a homeowner who might spend an average of $150 a month on an electric bill would save more than $65,000 in that same amount of time.

Of course, the cost of solar panel installation upfront can be prohibitive, so it’s best to examine your solar panel financing options before you proceed with a purchase.

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Four options for solar panel financing

How many years can you finance solar panels? The average loan duration for solar panel financing is 10 to 20 years, though you may find loans with maturity periods ranging anywhere from three years to 30.

If you’re looking into solar panel financing, here are a few things you should consider.

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1. Tax credits and rebates

Smart solar power financing strategy includes the use of all available tax credits and rebates. The federal government currently offers tax benefits on solar panels installed through Dec. 31, 2023, and many states offer rebates that further reduce the cost. To find out more about what’s offered in your area, check out the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency.

On top of that, many states also offer Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs). Homeowners who own their solar power systems can sell these credits to utility companies throughout the year.

If you generate excess energy, you can also potentially sell this back to the utility company, which is also a key part of any solar panel financing strategy. While that won’t pay for your system upfront, it could help you cover part of the costs of solar financing. Check with a tax professional to see if you are eligible for any of these benefits.

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2. Solar panel leases

One unique strategy for solar panel financing is to lease your solar panel. With a lease, a company typically pays to install the panels on your roof and charges you a monthly fee over the term of the lease. The company owns the panels and remains responsible for any maintenance required on them.

While you will not be eligible for federal tax credits if you go this route, solar panel leasing may be a good option for those who struggle to find solar panel financing or don’t qualify for a solar panel loan.

Image Credit: DepositPhotos.com.

3. Secured solar panel loans

Since you are adding to your home, you may opt to use a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) to finance solar panels. This is a type of revolving credit line that is secured by your home equity. Because it is a secured loan, you may qualify for a relatively low interest rate. However, if you fail to pay it back, the lender can take your home as repayment for the loan. Also, you need to have equity in your home to qualify for a HELOC.

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4. Unsecured solar panel loans

An unsecured solar panel loan is an unsecured personal loan that you can use to purchase solar panels without requiring that you have home equity. To qualify, the lender considers your income and your credit rating (among other financial factors that vary from lender to lender). As unsecured loans are installment loans, you may seek out a loan term that fits your budget.

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The tax benefits of solar panels

Installing solar panels can help reduce a homeowner’s federal income tax due in the year the installation is complete. There is a 26% tax credit in place for systems installed in 2020-2022, and 22% for systems installed in 2023. The solar panel tax credit expires starting in 2024 unless Congress renews it before then.

To qualify for the solar panel tax credit, your solar panels must be installed at your primary or secondary U.S. residence between Jan. 1, 2006, and Dec. 31, 2023. You also must own the solar panel system, i.e. you purchased it with cash or solar panel financing but you are neither leasing nor are in an arrangement to purchase electricity generated by a system you do not own — and it must be new or being used for the first time. The credit can only be claimed on the original installation of the solar equipment.

You might be able to take advantage of state and city incentives, including rebates, as well. To see what’s available in your area, refer to the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency

Image Credit: DepositPhotos.com.

The Takeaway

There’s no question that solar panels are environmentally friendly. Over time they can also be economically friendly, saving homeowners money on their electricity bill. Doing some research about residential solar panels and general home improvement financing are good steps to take to see if it’s the right choice for your home.

Learn more:

This article originally appeared on SoFi.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

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Buying a house? Here are 20 ways to save

Your home is likely the most expensive thing you’ll ever purchase and you’ll spend years paying it off. You’ll want to make sure to find a home you love and will enjoy for years to come.

Plus, by purchasing a home, you can start building equity in your home instead of paying rent to someone else. Your home is also likely to appreciate over the long-term, resulting in being able to sell for more than you paid for it whenever you decide to move to another place.

To start, figure out how much you can afford — both upfront for closing costs and a down payment and also as a monthly mortgage payment. Then, start estimating costs and seeing where you may be able to save.

With the purchase of a home comes lots of little fees, expenses, and repairs. However, this all means there are lots of ways to save off money, especially if you’re willing to get creative. It’s also essential to find a good buyer’s agent (who the seller typically pays for!) who can help guide you through the process.

Here are 20 smart ways to save, either when purchasing your home or by reducing your mortgage or repairs costs.

Image Credit: monkeybusinessimages/istockphoto.

1. Improve your credit score

If you’re like most Americans, you’ll be getting a mortgage loan for your home. Banks use your credit score to determine the interest rate you’ll pay on that mortgage, so anything you can do to improve it prior to your home search will save you money.

Image Credit: cnythzi .

2. Shop around for a lender

Different lenders have different rates and different terms. In general, you’ll pay less when using a credit union, but they may not have all the bells and whistles of convenient online payment. They may also not offer long-term loans or be able to move as quickly as a larger bank would.

When comparing loans, consider your interest rate, mortgage-related closing costs, any prepayment penalties, loan origination fees, discount points, etc.

Image Credit: Deposit Photos.

3. Consider a loan discount

Some lenders may offer you a loan discount on your mortgage in the form of points or lender credits. Discount points (typically) lower your interest rate in exchange for paying an upfront fee.

Lender credits lower your closing costs in exchange for accepting a higher interest rate. This may be attractive to a buyer who doesn’t have much money upfront to put toward closing costs. Pay close attention to the loan terms and work with your real estate agent to evaluate if opting for a loan discount is best for your specific situation.

Image Credit: DepositPhotos.com.

4. Lower your mortgage interest rate

While a small variation on an interest rate doesn’t sound like much, since your mortgage is likely 15-30 years in length, it can turn into big savings. For perspective, on a $200,000 30-year mortgage, a 0.25% lower interest rate translates to a savings of almost $10,000 over the long run.

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5. Refinance when interest rates go down

If you can’t get a low interest rate when you purchase your home, you can always consider refinancing when the market experiences lower interest rates. Similarly, if you can’t get a great rate because of your low credit score, you can work to improve it and then refinance at a later date.

Image Credit: DepositPhotos.com.

6. Consider a shorter loan

Similarly, a shorter loan term can get you a better interest rate. As another bonus, you’ll pay off your home quicker. Although your monthly mortgage payment will be significantly higher, if you can afford it, you’ll be able to pay off your home more quickly and save bunches.

For example, on a $200,000 mortgage, the difference you’ll pay between a 30-year mortgage and a 15-year one with a 1% lower interest rate is more than $80,000!

Image Credit: DepositPhotos.com.

7. Make a higher down payment

Making a higher down payment can save you on several fronts. It may help the seller accept your offer, even though it may be lower than others. It may help you pay less interest by taking out less money in the form of your mortgage. And it may help you avoid private mortgage insurance (PMI), which will be discussed more in detail later on.

Image Credit: DepositPhotos.com.

8. Avoid private mortgage insurance

When you don’t pay at least 20% toward your home purchase in the form of a down payment, your lender will require you to purchase private mortgage insurance — or PMI.

PMI ensures the bank’s investment will be covered in the event you are “underwater” — or owe more on the home than what it’s worth — and default on your loan payments. The PMI would make up the difference for the bank.

PMI rates can range from 0.5% to 1.5% of the loan amount on an annual basis and will be added to your monthly mortgage payment.

While you can pay for an appraisal when you think you have 20% in equity in your home to remove your PMI payments, they usually won’t automatically fall off until you reach 22% equity. By paying at least a 20% down payment when purchasing your home you can avoid paying PMI altogether.

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9. Buy in the off-season

In the prime of the home sales season, you’ll always pay more for a home because there will be more competition. If you’re willing to buy in an off-peak season — usually during the winter and specifically around the holidays — you may be able to snag a home for much cheaper.

However, keep in mind that you may also have fewer options, as there are also typically fewer homes on the market at this time.

Image Credit: DepositPhotos.com.

10. Buy a fixer-upper

If you’re willing to put some elbow grease into your new home, you could save a lot of money. Most buyers want to purchase a home that is move-in ready and will completely overlook a fixer-upper, even if it’s priced at an extreme discount.

Especially if you have the tools, skills, and time to do the work yourself, a fixer-upper may be the way to go. You can often perform the work cheaply and may be able to afford a higher-quality home or one in a nicer neighborhood than you would have otherwise.

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11. Make a lower offer

While offering a lower purchase price isn’t as attractive to a seller, you may be able to sweeten the deal in other ways. For example, the seller may be interested in a quick closing or you could offer to purchase the home “as is” without any repairs or improvements requested. Just make sure you have a good idea of the condition of the home prior to purchasing it.

Image Credit: DepositPhotos.com.

12. Get quotes for home insurance

Before you purchase a home, you’ll need to secure home insurance that will be added to your monthly mortgage payment. Shop around to multiple providers for the lowest rates and the best coverage. You may be surprised how much you can save.

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13. Dispute your home valuation

If you’ve already purchased a home and you think the valuation may be off, most municipalities will allow time for you to dispute it. This may take some time on your end to find decent comps (or comparable homes to your own) and set up an appointment to argue your case, but could save you money for years to come.

Image Credit: monkeybusinessimages / istockphoto.

14. Buy in the right area

Although you won’t want to buy a home in a run-down neighborhood just to save money, your real estate agent may have a good pulse on ones that are up-and-coming.

This can benefit you in two ways. One, you may be able to purchase a home more cheaply and two, the value of your home will likely go up and you could eventually sell for a nice profit.

Image Credit: istockphoto.

15. Home buyer rebate

The seller typically pays for realtor fees for both themselves and their buyer, but you may be able to get your buyer’s agent to agree to a home buyer rebate.

Some agents offer this perk and provide their buyer with money back in the form of a credit at closing that comes from their own commission. You’ll need to negotiate this with your own agent, but some real estate sites such as Clever offer a rebate automatically to buyers.

Image Credit: Deposit Photos.

16. Closing costs

As with most things related to real estate, closing costs are negotiable. When you purchase a home, closing costs are split between the buyer and seller.

Usually, the bulk of the seller’s closing costs are related to real estate commissions — because they pay for both the buyer and seller’s agents. Most of a buyer’s closing costs are for items related to their mortgage — like discount points, credit checks, escrow, and origination fees. Other closing costs such as filing fees and title insurance are usually split 50/50 between buyer and seller.

As a buyer, you can request that a seller pay more in closing costs — especially if you’re willing to accept the property with little to no repairs or offer other perks like a quick closing, etc.

However, this may be more difficult to negotiate in a seller’s market, as the seller will have lots of offers to choose from, and others may be more attractive.

Image Credit: Vladimir Vladimirov.

17. Negotiate for repairs

After having a home inspection on a house you intend to purchase, there is usually some back-and-forth on which repairs the seller will complete and if they’ll make them prior to closing or simply offer a monetary credit on the overall purchase for the buyer to complete them on their own.

While negotiating for repairs with a seller won’t save you money upfront, by asking them to complete needed repairs prior to closing, you’ll save yourself from having to pay for it shortly after moving in. When negotiating, it’s best to focus on those repairs that either need immediate attention or are particularly costly.

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18. Reach out to a potential seller on your own

An out-of-the-box idea to save money when buying a home — especially in a seller’s market that’s tough for buyers — is to contact potential sellers on your own. There are ways to find homeowners you think may be reaching out to a realtor soon to put their home on the market and speaking with them before they do so.

Real estate investors do this all the time to find discount properties — it’s called “driving for dollars.” They may see a property in major need of mowing with overgrown weeds or a home that clearly needs a new roof and has been neglected. Then, they find out who owns it — usually through the local assessor’s office — and contact them to make an offer.

Homes in need of major repair are usually owned by homeowners or landlords who either can’t keep up with the work or don’t have the money to pay for it.

Thus, they may be willing to sell at a discount if they don’t have to hire a real estate agent or deal with the hassle of listing it on a multiple listing service (MLS). Those listing their home as a for-sale-by-owner may also be willing to sell for a discount, as they’re not paying agent commissions either.

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19. Stay out of the city

If you’re flexible about where you can live, consider the suburbs of your city or a mid-sized city. Obviously, you’ll pay more to buy a home in the hub of a major city, as they’re in short supply and high-demand. Not to mention, you’ll likely have a higher cost of living and pay much more in transportation costs.

Image Credit: DepositPhotos.com.

20. Be flexible on your criteria

You’ll save money by staying flexible in which homes meet your criteria. For example, split-level homes are typically less expensive than others. Also, you may be able to get more square footage for your money if you’re willing to opt for a multi-level home.

Image Credit: istockphoto/fizkes.