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Posted by Ada Cimpeanu on 9/15/2019

There’s a lot of things to think about before buying a home--some financial, others personal. Most people tend to focus on one or the other. However, both are instrumental in choosing the right house and buying at the right time.

In this article, we’re going to talk about some of the ways you can determine if you’re ready for homeownership. We’ll discuss things like credit scores and down payments, but also important life factors like your career and future plans.

Getting your finances in order

There are a few simple things you can do right now that will help you understand if you’re financially secure enough to start looking at houses. First, you’ll want to look up your credit score.

Lenders strongly consider your credit when determining how much risk is involved in lending to you. A higher credit score can not only get you approved for a mortgage, it can lower your interest rate and make you eligible to borrow without having to pay private mortgage insurance.

The amount of money this saves seems trivial in the short term, but over the lifespan of your loan it can save you tens of thousands of dollars. So, read a free credit report and if your credit is lower than 700 start finding ways to improve your credit.

In the meantime, you’ll want to save for a down payment. While it’s possible to buy a home with a small or no down payment, it can come back to haunt you in the form of interest as you pay off your loan. Furthermore, many lenders won’t pre-approve you unless you make a down payment of a minimum amount (often 20% of the loan).

If you have a high credit score and you’ve saved for a down payment, another thing to check off your list would be proving your stable income. This can be difficult for the self-employed, contract workers, or people who have recently changed jobs.

Lenders want to see that you have a stable income history to ensure that you’ll be able to pay your mortgage each month. If you recently changed jobs or are in between jobs, it could be to your benefit to wait 3-6 months before getting pre-approved. In that time, you can continue to raise your credit and save for a down payment, further increasing your chances of getting a low-interest loan.

Preparing for homeownership

While the financial aspects of homeownership are important, so are the personal aspects. You’ll want to consider several life factors before buying a home.

First, think about your longterm goals. Do you want to live in the same area for the next 10 to 30 years? Will your career bring you to different regions or will you attend school somewhere else? These questions will help you decide if it’s a good time to buy or a better investment to save money while renting.

If you have a family (or plan on having one soon), you’ll also have to find a way to balance all of your living needs.

Finally, ask yourself if you have time for homeownership. Many people who are used to renting aren’t aware of the amount of time and money it takes to maintain a home. You’ll have more bills, you’ll have to mow your own lawn, and you’ll be responsible for maintenance of your home.





Posted by Ada Cimpeanu on 10/14/2018

We’re not taught much about homeownership when we’re young. Like paying bills and taxes, it’s something we’re all expected to pick up along the way. But with something as important and expensive as buying a home, there should be a guide to help first time homeowners determine if they’re ready to enter the real estate market.

Today, we’re going to attempt to provide you with that guide. We’ll offer some of the prerequisites to homeownership to help you determine if you’re ready to buy your first home.

A rite of passage

Buying a house is a significant moment in anyone’s life. It’s often a precursor to starting a career, a family, and settling in a part of the country you will likely call home for a large portion of your life.

It’s also overwhelming.

There’s much to prepare for before buying your first home. You’ll be calculating a lot of expenses, thinking about jobs and schools, and learning new things about home maintenance. Here are some things to think about before buying your first home.

Can I afford it?

The most obvious question first time buyers ask themselves is whether they can afford a home. What many don’t ask, however, is if they can afford all of the unexpected expenses that come with homeownership.

Everyone knows they’ll be making mortgage payments. But to decide if you can really afford a home you’ll have to make a detailed budget. Here are some other expenses to consider:

  • Mortgage closing costs

  • Property tax

  • Home insurance

  • Maintenance and repairs

  • Home improvement

  • All utilities

  • Moving costs

Do I plan on staying in the area?

When you buy a home, you’re not just committing yourself to the house itself, but also to the area you live in. Typically, it only makes sense to buy a home if you’re planning on staying in it for a number of years (usually five or more). Ask yourself the following questions to determine if you can truly commit yourself to your area.

  • Could my career lead me to transferring to another location?

  • Could my spouse’s career lead them to transferring?

  • If children are in the present/future, is the local school district what I’m looking for in terms of education for my child?

  • Will I want to move live to family?

  • Will I have to move soon to care for aging parents?

  • Do I like the weather and culture in the area?

Is my income stable?

Owning a home is much easier when you have a stable income or two stable incomes between you and your significant other. It help you get preapproved for a mortgage and help you rest easy knowing that you can keep up with the bills each month to maintain or build your credit.

Stability doesn’t just mean feeling comfortable that your company won’t get closed down or that you’ll be dismissed from your job. It also means that there are frequent openings in your field of work in the area you choose to live. So, when planning to buy a home, make sure you factor in the potential travel distance to cities or places you could potentially work.

Am I prepared to put in extra work?

If you currently rent an apartment, you’re most likely not responsible for maintenance outside of basic cleaning. Owning a home is a different story. You’ll be taking care of the house inside and out. That means learning basic maintenance and buying the tools for the job.

It also means mowing the lawn, cleaning the gutters, shoveling snow off of the roof, and other menial tasks that you’ll need to make time for.





Posted by Ada Cimpeanu on 1/15/2017

Rising urban rents, created by urban development initiatives, especially in major cities, may cause some people to relocate to the suburbs or to seriously consider homeownership for the first time. At its best, urban development creates business expansion, solid social and community infrastructures and easy access to public transportation and public services. Urban development can also put restaurants, historic sites and entertainment within walking distance. Those are the pluses. Zoning laws can also entice developers to raise urban rents, impacting your cost of living, whether you rent an apartment or a house. And you said that you'd never move to the suburbs or buy a house before you'd saved a hefty down payment. Save money when you move from renting to homeownership It’s not only rising urban rents that may cause some traditional renters to think about buying a house. Low mortgage interest rates, growth in large New England cities and an increase in housing values can also make buying a house attractive. Even over a short term, opportunity to pay a $1,500 mortgage on a house you could one day own outright versus paying $2,500 a month in rent that could rise in another year can quickly look like the smarter option. To counter rising urban rents, empower yourself with housing price negotiation tools. Types of housing price negotiation tools include:

  • Strong down payment (you may have to give yourself one to two years to save a good down payment)
  • Good credit scores
  • Flexibility regarding house type and location
  • Rewarding money management habits
  • Job stability
  • Knowledge about housing markets
  • Clarity around what you want in a house
The sooner you start building resources to use during housing price negotiation discussions, the more influence you may have on the overall price you pay for a house, including closing costs. Start early; be open to change and track your results. Make yourself attractive to sellers and lenders If you recently started a new job and only worked six to nine months at your two previous jobs, you may have more price negotiation power if you wait to buy a house until you've been at your current job more than a year. Signs of job stability can put you in a better light in the eyes of lenders. Despite how long you've worked with your current employer, start paying debts down. For example, you could make larger payments on credit cards, starting with credit cards that have higher interest rates. If you have student loans in default, contact lenders and set up workable payment arrangements. Reduce spending on clothes, takeout food and other entertainment. Put this money in an account that you’ll use to grow your down payment. Also, learn about current mortgage interest rates including different types of mortgages like adjustable and fixed mortgages. You could ask friends and consult local government agencies to find out what average property taxes are in areas you are considering buying a house in. After you identify debts that you are going to pay off, where you want to live, the type of mortgage you want and the average property taxes in areas you’d like to buy a house in, compare the total cost of buying and owning a house to renting. Compare immediate costs, which would include the down payment, house inspection fees, realtor commissions and any travel costs, and long term costs of owning a house versus renting. You might find that it’s cheaper to buy a house versus renting, especially over the long term.