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Now that the housing market is finally calming down after the pandemic, buyers are facing a new challenge: Soaring mortgage rates.
In Kansas, the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate is 5.60% — up from 2021's historic lows. This raises the average monthly mortgage payment to $987 (assuming a 20% down payment at the median home value).
But buying a home in Kansas is still possible, even for first-time home buyers. Many markets are seeing frequent price drops and fewer offers, giving motivated buyers the upper hand in negotiating for the best price.
In this guide, you’ll learn how to buy a house in Kansas with confidence no matter what the market brings. Learn why you can trust our advice.
Whether you're actively house hunting or just starting to browse homes on Zillow, it's never too early to find a great local realtor to guide you on your search. An experienced agent can help you navigate a tricky housing market, explore your financial options, and negotiate the best deal possible.
Best of all, hiring a real estate agent comes at no extra cost to you — since the seller typically pays both their listing agent and your buyer's agent.
Ready to find a great local realtor, but not sure where to start? The best (and easiest!) option is to try a free agent matching service like Clever Real Estate. Answer a few simple questions about your home buying goals, and Clever will match you with hand-picked agents from Keller Williams, RE/MAX, and other top brokerages in your area. Find a top local agent and make your home buying dreams a reality today!
Step 1: Save for a down payment
🔑 Key takeaway:
Your down payment can be less than 20% of the purchase price — $42,994 for the typical home in Kansas — but you'll have to purchase mortgage insurance and pay more interest over the life of your loan.
Your down payment is the first part of your home's purchase price that you pay at closing. Your mortgage lender will pay the remaining balance.
Typically, mortgage lenders in Kansas want you to contribute 20% of the purchase price as a down payment. That would be $42,994 for a $214,970 home — the typical home value in Kansas.
However, you have options to lower your down payment amount.
Government backed loans, like VA and FHA loans, allow you to contribute 0% and 3.5% of your home's purchase price respectively. Even conventional loans allow for down payments as low as 3-5% (though the minimum varies by lender).
Minimum down payment (%)
Down payment ($)
Based on typical home values from Zillow (August 2022)
But making a down payment of less than 20% comes with some risks.
First, because you're borrowing more money, you'll have a higher monthly payment and pay more in interest over the life of your loan.
Based on home values from Zillow (August 2022) and a 5.60% interest rate for a 30-year loan.
Second, you may have to purchase mortgage insurance.
Conventional loans require private mortgage insurance (PMI) until your loan balance reaches 80% of the purchase price. FHA loans, on the other hand, require a mortgage insurance premium (MIP) for the life of your loans.
Mortgage insurance costs around 1% of your mortgage balance annually. However, rates vary based on your down payment and credit score. Typically, your mortgage insurance payment is added to your mortgage payment each month.
VA loans don't charge mortgage insurance. Instead, you'll pay a VA loan funding fee at closing, which can range from 1.4% to 3.6% of the purchase price.
» READ MORE: Everything you need to know about low-income home loans
Kansas down payment assistance programs
Kansas offers several statewide and localized down payment assistance programs to help first-time and low-income homebuyers. If you meet eligibility requirements, you may be able to receive financial aid to offset closing costs or a down payment.
Here are just a few programs for Kansas homebuyers to consider:
Kansas Housing’s First Time Homebuyer Program
The Kansas Housing Resources Corporation offers a 15% or 20% loan to first-time homebuyers outside of certain major cities. This loan is progressively forgiven over time, which means you won’t pay anything if you live in the purchased home long enough.
To be eligible for this program, you must contribute at least 2% of the purchase price as a down payment.
The KansasDPA program offers eligible participants a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage loan with a grant of up to 5% for down payment assistance. The maximum purchase price of the home is $548,250, and maximum income limits apply based on the county you live in.
To qualify for this program, you must be a first-time homebuyer with a credit score of at least 640.
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
HUD’s list of alternative programs in Kansas can be found here.
Step 2: Find a great real estate agent in Kansas
🔑 Key takeaway:
Interview multiple agents to find one who knows your target neighborhoods, has experience in your price range, and communicates well.
Your real estate agent will be your main ally during the home buying process. Besides finding and showing you properties, your agent will help you make offers, negotiate contracts, and navigate the closing process. Plus, they can recommend other service providers like title companies and inspectors to help you buy your home in Kansas.
Don't rush into choosing an agent. Instead, take the time to research and interview multiple real estate agents who have experience in the neighborhoods you're interested in. You should pay attention to a realtor's:
- Years of experience
- Number of transactions in the last year (the more the better!)
- Experience in your price range
- Overall review score
- Individual reviews and complaints
Step 3: Get preapproved for a mortgage
🔑 Key takeaway:
Once you're preapproved for a mortgage, it's imperative that your financial situation doesn't change. If your credit drops, it can derail the process and keep you from closing on your house.
Here are some easy ways to ensure your credit doesn't change after you receive your preapproval letter:
- Avoid opening new credit accounts
- Don't close any accounts that have been open for a long time
- Make all of your credit card payments on time
» LEARN MORE: What factors do mortgage lenders consider?
A mortgage preapproval letter is an offer to lend you up to a certain amount of money to purchase a home. It shows sellers that you are a serious buyer who is financially qualified to make an offer on a home.
Most sellers in Kansas will require preapproval before showing you their home.
You don't have to decide on one lender right now. In fact, you should compare interest rates and preapproval amounts from several lenders to make sure you're getting the absolute best terms when you buy your Kansas home.
Step 4: Choose the right location
🔑 Key takeaway:
Search for neighborhoods where:
- Home prices are within your price range
- Home values are on the rise
- The local amenities support your lifestyle
Currently, the typical home value in Kansas is $214,970, but don't worry if that doesn't perfectly match your budget. Home prices vary dramatically from city to city and even from neighborhood to neighborhood!
Also, look at past home value trends. This will give you an idea of how much your home's value could go up over the next few years.
To give you an idea of how appreciation could impact what your house is worth in the future, consider these examples from three neighborhoods in Wichita:
Home value appreciation in Wichita
Step 5: Start house hunting in Kansas
🔑 Key takeaway:
Listing prices in Kansas have increased in the past year while inventory has barely moved. This may make hunting for a house a bit more challenging. Although there may be options that check all your boxes, they may exceed your budget — but keep an open mind when your realtor shows you listings. You may either have to be flexible with your requirements or have a larger budget to compete in this state.
Searching for homes in Kansas is the fun part of the home buying process! You'll get to look at a variety of homes and discover what you really want in a home.
Make a list of everything you want in a home and prioritize them. At the top of the list should be the items that are most important to you. This will help you separate your "must-haves" from your "nice-to-haves."
Your agent can help you understand if your wants are realistic for your budget and favorite neighborhoods or if you need to rethink what you're looking for.
Look at current housing inventory
The timing of your house hunt in Kansas can have a big impact on your number of options. For example, in Kansas, June has historically seen the most homes for sale. Searching in this season could give you more options and a greater likelihood of finding your dream home.
On the other hand, December gives you the fewest choices in Kansas. Historically, there are 49.7% fewer homes for sale than during Kansas's peak season.
Housing inventory in Kansas by season
New listings per month
Based on data from Realtor.com (October 2022)
Step 6: Make an offer
🔑 Key takeaway:
Although homes are sitting on the market for longer than usual, the limited inventory is leaving Kansas with a rather tight market. If you find a great listing, put in a strong offer as there will probably be a lot of competition for it. Work with your agent when deciding your offer — their intimate knowledge of your local market will make it easier to come up with a competitive but fair figure.
Once you find a Kansas house you love, it's time to make an offer. Your real estate agent will help you write a compelling offer that gives you the best shot of convincing the homeowner to sell to you.
Currently, in Kansas, homes stay on the market for 67 days before going under contract. However, every market goes through seasonal changes. During busier months, homes get snatched up more quickly than others.
Historically, Kansas homes sell fastest in July, where the average property is only on the market for 57 days. If your home search falls around this time, you should be prepared to move quickly and potentially make offers on several homes before yours is accepted.
On the other hand, if you buy in January, you have a bit more time to search. Homes typically stay on the market 21 days longer than Kansas's annual average.
Average time homes spend on market in Kansas
Based on data from Realtor.com (October 2022)
» LEARN MORE: What should an offer include?
Step 7: Inspections and appraisals
Inspections and appraisals are an opportunity for you to better evaluate the home's condition and value before officially purchasing it. You may have an opportunity after this step to renegotiate the terms of your contract with the seller if something unexpected pops up.
🔑 Key takeaway:
- Inspections: A licensed professional checks the house for any unseen, unexpected, or potential issues.
- Appraisals: An appraiser hired by your lender examines the house to determine how much it's worth.
Home inspections in Kansas
Having your Kansas home inspected by a licensed inspector gives you peace of mind about the condition of the property before you commit thousands of dollars to purchase it.
Your inspector should check out the following parts of the property:
- Electrical system
- HVAC system
If the home has a septic system, you should also pay for a septic inspection to make sure it doesn't have any problems that wouldn't be covered in a typical home inspection.
Although Kansas has strict disclosure laws, sellers may not be aware of all issues prior to closing. This is why it's recommended for buyers to complete specialized tests, in addition to a general home inspection, to ensure a property is safe. Here are a few important inspections to consider:
- Radon testing: Radon is a prevalent problem throughout the United States. If the seller hasn’t performed a radon test in the past year, buyers are encouraged to do one before purchasing a property. Get in touch with your county’s Kansas Radon Program extension office and find out where you can get a testing kit here.
- Termite inspection: Even if your loan doesn't require you to have a termite and pest inspection done, it’s a good idea to ensure that no infestations are hiding beneath the floorboards.
Appraisals determine the value of the property. If you're using a mortgage to buy your new home, your lender will order an appraisal to make sure the home is worth the money that it's loaning you.
» LEARN: 3 options for buyers after a low appraisal
Step 8: Close on your new home!
🔑 Key takeaway:
Before you close on your new home, you and your agent will do a final walkthrough of the property to ensure that it's still in the expected condition.
Before you can close on your home in Kansas, you'll have to meet at the title company to complete some paperwork and settle your closing costs.
On closing day, you'll be expected to review and sign several important legal documents to transfer the title of the home to your name. Make sure you fully understand each page and verify that the information is correct before you sign anything.
Here are just a few documents you'll be asked to sign:
- Your final loan application
- The deed
- The mortgage promissory note
- The disclosure statements
After you finish the paperwork, you'll settle your closing costs. The title company will collect the total amount you owe to your various service providers and disburse the funds on your behalf.
Generally, a homebuyer's closing costs can be divided into four main categories:
- Lender fees: Fees paid to your mortgage lender for originating and underwriting the loan.
- Prepaid costs: Ongoing costs of homeownership. Some lenders require buyers to prepay for certain expenses, such as property taxes and homeowners insurance.
- Title and escrow charges: Fees for your title company's services. These funds will cover the cost of the title search, title insurance, and facilitating the closing process.
- Other closing costs: Miscellaneous fees that vary based on your unique situation. These costs may include home inspection fees, natural disaster certification fees, or real estate attorney fees.
Buyers in Kansas typically pay 3–5% of the purchase price in closing costs. For a $215,000 home — the typical home value in Kansas — that's between $6,450 and $10,750!
Frequently asked questions
Kansas does not require you to hire a real estate attorney to buy a home. However, depending on your circumstances, you might consider hiring one anyways. If you do, treat the process similarly to hiring an agent. Interview multiple attorneys and proceed with the one that best meets your needs.
- Save for down payment
- Get pre-approved for a mortgage
- Choose your preferred Kansas neighborhoods
- Partner with the right real estate agent in Kansas
- Go house hunting
- Make a strong offer
- Inspections and appraisals
- Do a final walkthrough and close
Yes, the Kansas Housing Resources Corporation offers its First-Time Homebuyer Program to eligible buyers. Participants can receive a loan of up to 20% of their home's purchase price. The loan accrues no interest and is forgiven if the borrower lives in the home for at least 10 years.
To qualify, you must be approved for a 30-year conventional, FHA, VA, or USDA loan. You'll need to contribute at least 2% of the purchase price towards the down payment, and your annual income must not exceed 80% of the area median income. Home purchase price limits also apply and vary by county.
Why trust us?
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Federal Reserve. "Housing Market Tightness During COVID-19: Increased Demand or Reduced Supply?." Accessed October 11, 2022. Updated July 08, 2021.
Consumer Protection Financial Bureau. "The Fed is raising interest rates. What does that mean for borrowers and savers?." Accessed October 11, 2022. Updated March 17, 2022.