It is always a scary prospect to decide on purchasing a home, either by yourself or with your family. A question that always pops into one’s mind, however, is if they are ready to take such a huge step in their life. Buying a home is definitely something that needs to be thought about and not something done on a whim. Here are a few steps to help you determine if you are ready to begin searching for your new home:
1. You are Debt Free
When you are debt free, you are definitely ready to purchase a home as you won’t have any other debts to worry about besides your monthly mortgage, which by itself can seem like a massive task. You need to do some major number crunching and determine how much of your income can go towards your mortgage. If it seems like most of your monthly income is going towards paying down your auto loans, student loans and/or credit card debt, now might not be the best time to purchase a home.
2. You can Afford a Down Payment
If you have never bought a house before, you may be wondering what a down payment actually is. A down payment is a percentage of the total cost of the house that you want to purchase, that is paid upfront. This is the biggest challenge most first time home buyers face when looking to purchase a home. You may now by wondering how much this down payment will cost. This amount is usually between $3,000 - $5,000, but the bigger down payment you make, the better it is for you. It can be recommended to you to make a 20% down payment, which may seem impossible. But keep in mind, however, that this is the most ideal down payment as it will help to keep your monthly mortgage check low and manageable. This can greatly benefit you as it shows your mortgage lenders that you have the great ability to save a nice amount of money and that you are serious.
3. The 5 Year Rule
Something to also keep in mind is the knowledge that you want to stay in the same place for at least the next five years. This long-term commitment is really good as it helps to build equity. Equity is the difference between what the appraised value of your home really is, and the balance that it left to be paid for your mortgage. Keep in mind mortgage amortization though, which is how mortgage payments are actually calculated: how much actually goes towards paying off the principle amount and how much goes into paying interest. It is quite depressing to get back the numbers and realize how much of your starting payments go into just paying off interest, but eventually your payments will pay off more of the principle then the interest. Owning a house for five years will help you develop enough equity to sell the house for a profit, which can be used for a bigger down deposit for your next house.
4. Emergency Funds
Life has its ups and downs, and you need to always be prepared for any kind of setbacks, especially when dealing with financing. A great way to know if you are ready to purchase a home is that you have an emergency fund that can be dipped into in case of an emergency, such as a layoff, car repairs, medical bills etc. It is always a good idea to build yourself a safety net before purchasing a home, such as having six months’ income in a savings account. Keep in mind that this emergency money is to be kept separate from your down payment.
5. You can Afford Associated Fees
When purchasing a home, make sure to always keep in the back of your mind that you won’t just be buying the sticker price of the home. There are always several costs that are associated when purchasing a home, and you may not even be aware of some. It would be a really good idea to sit down with your realtor and find out what some of these extra costs could be. Home inspections, closing costs, moving costs, property taxes, home insurance, monthly utility bills, homeowner’s association fees, as well as maintenance, furnishing and any renovation expenses, these are all costs that some new home buyers can overlook that they really shouldn’t.