Are You Financially Ready?
- Find out how much you really can afford. There are mortgage calculators available online that can give you an idea of what mortgage payments will be. However, these often don't include other expenses of home ownership like property taxes, maintenance and insurance.
- Save as much as you can for a down payment and closing costs. Standard mortgages require between 3-10% down. The more you have down the less your monthly mortgage payment will be.
- Think about saving for your down payment longer. For 6 months try putting aside what you think your monthly mortgage payment, insurance and property taxes will be. This can show you if you are financially able to afford a home. If you can't afford this, don't get discourage and keep saving for a larger down payment!
- Contact a few mortgage professionals and get pre-qualified. Getting pre-qualified for a loan gives you and idea of how much you can afford as well as loan programs that are available. This takes very little time, is of great value and can generally be done of the phone or at an initial meeting with a loan officer.
- Consider what closing costs might be. There are associated fees when getting a mortgage including lender, title and settlement fees, taxes and prepaid items such as homeowners insurance or HOA fees.
- Check prices of homes online. There are plenty of sites that offer home prices and the capability to look at homes currently on the market. You might also want to start looking for a real estate agent to help with your search.
- Consider smaller homes including townhouses, condominiums and manufactured homes. These are usually the most affordable in most areas and might be only slightly higher payments than what you could be paying in rent. If your rent is $900 per month, with a 6% rental increase per year, you will pay $133,560 in rent over a 10 year period!
- Weigh your wants versus your needs. What are your needs now and what will they be in the next 5-10 years. How long do you see yourself living in this property? Make a list of important features and areas you are interested in. In your list include items you "need to have" and are "nice to have".
- Look at a homes potential. Remember that you can re do anything you don't like down the road. Look for a good core in a house, you can always paint, put new carpet in or redo a bathroom. If you find a property that you like but it has a few items you would like to change, get a bid from professionals to see what it would cost to get those items changed.
- Look at other surrounding areas and neighborhoods. This might take some compromising but looking outside of neighborhoods you primarily thought you wanted to live in can open more opportunities for homes in your price range or with the features you are looking for.
Reasons to Buy a Home
- Pride of Ownership
- Quality of Life (No Landlord!)
- Mortgage Interest Deductions
- Property Tax Deductions
- Appreciation (Historically housing has appreciated over the years)
- Deferred Gain and Capital Gain Exclusions
- Build Equity
- Investment Leverage (where else can you buy this size of an investment with 5-10% down?)
- Real Cost of Renting