Buying a home will be one of your biggest purchases ever. No 2 people have the exact same situation and reasons for making this huge decision. The choice to become a homeowner is a very personal one.
Deciding the time is right should be determined by your own particular situation and finances, never because everyone else around you is or isn’t doing it.
Below are the 4 BIG questions to ask yourself first so that you’ll know that you’re ready and confident to start the home-buying process, and that you understand the responsibilities of being a homeowner.
1. Can I Afford It?
You’ll need to consider several factors when answering this question so that you don’t end up “house poor” when buying.
Understanding your budget, the immediate and long-term costs of purchasing a home, and factoring in any future financial demands or income changes will be crucial in making this decision. You’ll need to understand what your available cash for down payment and closing costs will be, what you can manage for mortgage, insurance, and property taxes, and possibly HOA fees, and budget in other expenses including utilities and the upkeep of this home.
There are programs for first-time buyers that can help, and you do not need to put as much as 20% down to buy a home; and typically, with your first home, it’s not the best idea to put so much down anyway.
It’s important to start planning and budgeting now if you want to become a homeowner. Together with your lender, we can work out your comfortable range of how much you would ideally like to pay each month for a mortgage. Then we can determine your purchase price range, and then start looking at homes!
2. How is my credit?
It’s important to take a look at your credit score and history as soon as you start asking yourself if you’re ready to buy a home. You want to know exactly where you stand when it comes to qualifying for certain loan products.
Ideally, your credit score should be at least 680. The higher your credit score, the better the loan products and interest rates will be available to you because you are considered less of a risk for lenders!
There are steps you can take to improve or repair your score, which is why taking a look now is a good idea to give you time. Plus, if there are marks on your credit history, you should look into each one, double check for accuracy, and then take action if there are any mistakes or credit fraud involved.
3. Am I planning to stay put for the next 3 to 5 years?
If the answer is yes, then most likely, buying now is a solid financial decision since that’s usually the amount of time to gain equity in your home. It’s also helpful to find out what is your break-even point to see how long you need to stay in your home for it to be worth it when compared to renting.
4. Am I ready to take care of a home?
Being a homeowner means maintaining a home and budgeting for its costs. Even if you don’t know everything about how to take care of a home before you buy, don’t worry, everyone has a learning curve! You can educate yourself for any DIY work and/or hire professionals when needed.
As long as you stay on top of seasonal maintenance and any repairs, you can avoid costly damages and maintain the value of your home. That’s very important to keep in mind since your home is also an investment. So make sure you have the time, the commitment, and the money to handle the responsibilities of being a homeowner.
Once you ask yourself the questions above, you’ll have a better idea if moving ahead is a go or if you need more time to prepare. The best advice to keep in mind is that the answers will always depend on your personal plans and circumstances. If you do decide to buy a home, do it because it makes sense for YOU and your life over the next few years, not because the news or your friends say you should.
I believe that with Information, Preparation, and Strategy, you can achieve great success. Let me show you how!
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