A down payment may not be the toughest hurdle when buying your first home.
If you’re thinking about trading your landlord for a mortgage, here are four things you should think about to help you decide if you’re ready to buy a home.
Your Down Payment May Not Be the Biggest Hurdle
Let’s admit one thing: buying a home is a huge financial commitment.
A healthy credit history is also important. Most home buyers can qualify for a mortgage with a score as low as 620. But the more competitive rates are offered to those with a score of 700 or above.
Many young adults are carrying student loan debt, making their debt-to-income (DTI) ratio more of a challenge to balance. Mortgage companies want borrowers to have a certain level of cash flow each month, and that means taking into account how much you’re paying out to other lenders. Ideally, a borrower’s debt-to-income ratio — how much you pay toward debt each month divided by your gross monthly income — should fall below 36%. If yours doesn’t, think about how you can get that debt needle moving in the right direction.
Be Emotionally Ready for Financial Surprises
Owning a home comes with unexpected surprises. When you rent, surprises don’t require as much emotional investment. If the rent goes up, you can move. When an appliance goes out, you can call your landlord. But when you own a home, if the toilet breaks, it’s your job to arrange to fix it. When property taxes unexpectedly rise, it’s on you to appeal or pay up.
Fixing problems in your home isn’t just about the money. It’s also important to have the mental and emotional capability of dealing with them responsibly when they arise. You could be doing fine for months, then several issues could arise all at once. Stress management and problem solving skills are important when owning a home.
A Mortgage Can Be Cheaper Than Rent
In some cases, a mortgage can be cheaper than rent. But either way, it’s still financially advantageous to own your own home and build equity.
Your Lifestyle May Call for Buying Instead of Renting
Many people realize that renting a home can only take them so far, especially when starting a family. Growing families need extra rooms, a yard, and space for your pets. More and more rentals are limiting pets, or just not allowing them at all. That’s not an issue if you own your own home.
Then there are the renovations. If you’re itching to test out your DIY skills and personalize your space, you’re probably ready to own. Landlords who allow property renovations — especially DIY projects — are few and far between.
Buying a first home is a big change — both from a financial and an emotional perspective. Still, for many, home ownership can be one of the most rewarding life choices one can make.
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