Becoming a first-time homebuyer can seem intimidating and many would-be buyers struggle with knowing when the time is right. When it is right, buying a home can be a smart and exciting investment in your future. Although every situation is different, there are a few indicators that can help you determine if you are ready.
You Have Reviewed Your Budget and Can Afford a Mortgage Payment
In many cities, a mortgage payment is comparable to the cost of renting. However, that is not always the case. Take a look at the type of properties you are interested in owning and use a simple mortgage calculator to determine the estimated monthly payment. How does it compare to your current cost for housing? Is it within your monthly budget? If so, choosing to buy will help you build equity, rather than simply spending money on rent each month.
You Love Your City and Plan to Stay There A While
The benefits of buying are significant if you plan to own your home for more than a few years. However, buying and selling under the two-year mark could potentially eliminate the financial benefits that a long-term buyer would see. If you intend to be in your current city for the foreseeable future, it’s great to consider buying, rather than renting.
You Know Your Credit Score and Have Addressed Any Issues
Before you begin your house hunt, it is important to know where you stand financially. As a first step, you should be meeting with a Loan Officer to review your credit score and debt to income ratio to determine if there are any problems that you should address. Fixing or improving your credit score can have a dramatic impact on the interest rates available to you, saving you thousands of dollars in the long-run.
You Have Built Up Your Savings
Although it is a myth that you need to have 20% down in order to buy a home, it is important to have a nest egg ready for the costs associated with both the down payment, transaction, move, and any unexpected costs. Your Loan Officer can review your goals and help you create an estimate for how much you should have saved. Regardless, if you think you may want to buy a home in the future, it is never too early to start setting money aside.
For many buyers, it can be tempting to think that the best deal comes at the lowest price. However, that is not always the case, especially when it comes to the housing market. If you really love a home, there are some factors that may be worth considering as you enter the bidding process.
Relative Prices – Our natural tendency to pay as little as possible is not as meaningful for an investment, such as a home, as it is for a consumable. In this case, what you pay now can affect your sales price later. There may be little difference in total earnings if you pay less and sell for less or pay more and sell for more.
Influencing Value – For appraisers, the last sale or “comp” in an area sets the value for similar homes. Whatever you pay helps to establish what your home and comparable properties are considered to be worth.
Setting the Trend – If you pay less for your home than was paid for the last similar home, you may be contributing to a downward price trend, which can be difficult to reverse. Conversely, helping to maintain a trend of price appreciation can end up paying you back many times over.
One Chance – No two homes are ever exactly the same. Even when structure matches, your land, your view, your address and your immediate neighbors will always be different. You truly may have only one chance at just the right house. Industry professionals have all seen buyers lose out on what they really wanted. We don’t want that to happen to you. Nor do we want you to pay more tomorrow for something less than what you could have had today as a result of increasing prices and rates.
Price vs. Payments – If you’re financing your purchase, you’ll probably never come close to paying the actual price. You’re making a comparatively small down payment and then paying interest on the loan until you refinance or sell. Yes, you will have a higher payment if you pay more for the home, but an extra $10,000 of mortgage money can add less than $50 per month on a low-rate, 30-year loan.
Every situation is different and you should work with an experienced Realtor and Loan Officer to determine what is the best option for you. Reach out, and we’ll be happy to help you weigh your options for the home you would really love to own today.
Not connected with a Loan Officer yet? Find one at a branch near you.