You’re a lifetime renter who has jumped from apartment to apartment over the years, looking for the best deals. All of your friends have gradually become homeowners and you’ve always wondered when the time will be right for you. But homeownership isn’t something you jump into because everyone else is doing it. You have to be absolutely, positively certain that the timing is right.
You’re Ready to Buy a House, If…
There’s something incredibly satisfying about buying a house. The first time you walk onto your property after signing the legal documents at the closing table is incredibly special. The grass feels different under your feet. The paint smells fresher, the carpet appears newer, and the house seems to hold such promise.
But being a homeowner also comes with its fair share of responsibility. When you’re the owner of a house – as opposed to just a renter – there is no landlord you can call to magically solve your issues. When a water pipe bursts all over your brand new kitchen floor, you’re the one who has to cover it. If the HVAC unit goes kaput, that’s on you as well. Then there’s lawn care, basic maintenance, property taxes, and all of the other little responsibilities that come with being a homeowner.
The point is this: There are both benefits and responsibilities that come with being a homeowner. Before you rush into the process, it’s imperative that you make sure you’re actually ready for it. Here are some signs that you are:
1. You’ve Eliminated Bad Debt
Depending on who you ask, not all debt is created equal. There’s good debt and then there’s bad debt. Good debt is generally associated with real estate mortgages, small business ownership, and maybe even student loans. This is debt that you enter into with the expectation of improving your financial standing. Bad debt includes things like credit card debt, car loans, furniture, and other material goods that don’t add value.
In order to really be prepared for homeownership, you need to get rid of all of your bad debt. Ideally, you should get rid of all debt, but it’s okay to buy a house if you have a small amount of “good” revolving debt.
2. Your Credit Score is Reasonably Good
How’s your credit score looking? While lenders look at a number of different metrics when evaluating whether or not you’re a good candidate for a loan, the credit score is one of the most important factors. A bad score can force you to pay thousands more in interest over the life of a loan, or possibly even disqualify you altogether.
3. You Have a Steady Job
It’s never a good idea to buy a house when you aren’t sure what your finances are going to look like in three months, six months, or a year from now. However, if you’re fairly comfortable in your job and aren’t worried , about what the future holds, then you might be ready.
A steady job is also important in the sense that you know you won’t be relocating to a new city or state anytime soon. There’s nothing worse than buying a house and then getting transferred 500 miles away, requiring you to immediately sell.
4. You Have More Than Enough Money to Cover the Down Payment
Did you know that you need to put 20 percent down on a house in order to avoid paying what’s known as private mortgage insurance, or PMI? In most cases, PMI costs roughly one percent of the total loan amount. This comes out to $1,000 annually for every $100,000. So, if you purchase a house for $300,000, you’re going to pay $3,000 per year in PMI if you fail to put down 20 percent.
So, for starters, it’s a good idea to save up for at least a 20 percent down payment. But on top of this 20 percent, you also need money left in the bank to cover other expenses and repairs that could pop up. As a rule of thumb, it’s smart to have two to three months of living expenses on hand, in addition to the down payment.
5. You’re Willing to Tackle Basic Maintenance Jobs
One of the biggest benefits to renting is that you don’t have to handle all of the dirty, time-consuming maintenance that comes with the property. As a homeowner, you do. Things like mowing the grass, fixing leaky toilets, replacing air filters, and getting carpets cleaned all come back to you. If you aren’t willing or able to tackle basic maintenance jobs, then you probably aren’t fit to be a homeowner. You can always hire someone, but basic tasks will require some work on your part.
6. You Actually Want to be a Homeowner
Just because you can buy a house doesn’t mean you should. While it can feel like everyone is a homeowner at your age, this is a fallacy. The homeownership rate in the United States is actually just 63.6 percent. That number is down from a peak of nearly 70 percent in 2004. In other words, homeownership isn’t the standard. Nearly four out of ten people in this country don’t own a home, many by choice.
You have to ask yourself what your motivation is for becoming a homeowner. Are you doing it because all of your friends are, or do you actually want to own a house? If the latter is true – and everything else lines up – then go for it!
Let Green Residential Help
At Green Residential, we take pride in serving the real estate needs of the Greater Houston Area. Whether you’re a first-time buyer who is nervous about the process and looking for an experienced team to hold your hand, or a seasoned homebuyer who is simply looking for local expertise, we’re here to help you find the house of your dreams.
When you work with Green Residential, you get access to decades of knowledge and industry relationships. We prioritize trust and transparency above all else and hope to win your business for life. Contact us today to learn more about what the home buying process looks like!