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
Maintenance and repairs
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.
Over the years (since 1981), I had worked with MANY first time home buyers. I like working with them because I can teach them about the process. One day I realized that I needed a website that gave an overview of the basic process all buyers have to go through to find the best home possible for them.
If you are thinking of buying your first home, please check it out. If you know someone who is thinking about buying their first home, let them know about this site. Even if you or your friend is not in the St.Louis area, I can help by referring you or them to a good agent in another area. That is a normal thing in real estate….and we all love receiving those referrals.