Are you ready to take the leap into homeownership? It’s a big step, but one that can have incredible payoffs both short and long term.
One of the biggest things to look at when wanting to buy a home is your financial situation, and what needs to be considered before moving forward. Here are the top things to look at when wanting to dive into the real estate market.
What’s Your Budget?
First and foremost, this is the question you should be asking. You may want to utilize a house payment calculator for starters.
You can figure out your debt-to-income ratio by adding up all your monthly debt payments and dividing that figure by your gross income each month.
Look at hard numbers, not what you may be expected to pay or what a range may be. Leave no room for error when determining your budget.
Applications and Closing Costs
These are fees folks don’t often think of when going through the home buying process.
You may find yourself needing to fill out a mortgage application with a fee from lenders that can cost several hundred dollars.
The home inspection finds any problems with the house before purchase, protecting buyers from underlying issues and giving the owner time to correct these problems prior to making a sale. This is an important part of the process, and you can expect to pay several hundred dollars or more.
Closing costs include things like deeds, titles, land transfers, or legal fees. The closing itself will run about 2 to 3 percent of the cost of the house.
The house may be almost perfectly what you want, but there may be lingering improvements that are necessary before actually stepping foot inside.
After the home inspection, determine if this applies to you and have contractors assess what the cost may be for the project you intend to finish before moving in officially.
This can be as simple as paint costs for redoing walls, or as involved as installing hardwood floors.
A home is a bigger property than a rental space you may be used to, and so utility costs will likely rise. Ask what typical utility rates are per month for the home, and add that into your budget accordingly.
Now that you’re making such a big investment, you want to protect it. Look into homeowners insurance plans, which you may be able to add to plans already in place such as auto or life insurances.
This can even be paid as part of the mortgage payment and managed through a separate escrow account under your main loan.
Property taxes can also be paid as part of your mortgage payment through the same escrow account. Be mindful that if they’re underpaid, you might owe a lump payment after the property taxes are assessed each year.
It is often recommended that you should come up with 20 percent of the home’s price as your down payment, which can feel daunting. Putting at least 20% down on a home will increase your chances of getting approved for a mortgage at a decent rate, and will allow you to avoid mortgage insurance.