Your parents did it. Your friends are doing it. But how do you know if you’re ready to buy a home? The decision to become a homeowner is a personal one that must be based on your life situation and finances. Ask yourself these six questions to determine if you’re real estate-ready.
1. Can I afford it?
Homeownership brings with it many new expenses. Beyond your mortgage, you’ll be paying for insurance, utilities and taxes, not to mention maintenance costs and perhaps homeowner’s association fees. If you don’t already have a budget, start one. It will help you manage your money, your spending and help you understand how much you can afford for a home.
2. Do I have money for a down payment?
Most conventional lenders require a down payment of 5 percent to 20 percent of the home’s price. The U.S. Census Bureau reports the median price of new homes sold in March 2014 was $290,000; 20 percent of that amount is $58,000. Less than 20 percent down will require that you take out private mortgage insurance (PMI), which protects the lender against default. PMI rates vary, but monthly premiums can range from $30 to $70 for every $100,000 borrowed. VA loans, available to consumers who have served or are presently serving in the U.S. military, require no down payment. Additionally, low-income borrowers with credit scores of at least 580 may qualify for an FHA loan (insured by the Federal Housing Administration) with a down payment of 3.5 percent.
3. Do I have a reliable source of income?
If there are murmurs of layoffs at your company or you’re thinking you might want to quit your job, where will your mortgage payment come from? Make sure you have a steady source of income.
4. How’s my credit?
Everyone has a credit score, also known as a FICO score (Fair Isaac & Company), which can range from 300 to 850. If your credit score is below 620, you’ll likely have a tough time getting a loan. If you do obtain a loan, it will probably require a higher down payment and a higher interest rate. If your credit score isn’t great, you should take some time to repair your credit and raise your credit score.
5. Am I planning to stay put for the next three to five years?
Real estate transaction costs are high enough that, unless you’re in a thriving real estate market, you’ll likely lose money if you don’t stay in your home for at least three to five years. Research your breakeven point, which is the amount of time that buying makes more sense than renting.
6. Am I ready for some DIY projects?
Owning a home means maintenance, such as mowing the lawn or making minor repairs. Do you have the time, skills and interest to maintain the property? Or, can you afford to hire someone to handle these tasks?
Once you have examined your financial health and decided you are ready for homeownership, take the time to choose your advisers wisely and enjoy the hunt.
Please note that this Scottsdale Real Estate Blog is for informational purposes and not intended to take the place of a licensed Scottsdale Real Estate Agent. The Szabo Group offers first class real estate services to clients in the Scottsdale Greater Phoenix Metropolitan Area in the buying and selling of Luxury homes in Arizona. Award winning Realtors and Re/MAX top producers and best real estate agent for Luxury Homes in Scottsdale, The Szabo group delivers experience, knowledge, dedication and proven results. Contact Joe Szabo at 480.688.2020, info@ScottsdaleRealEstateTeam.com or visit www.scottsdalerealestateteam.com to find out more about Scottsdale Homes for Sale and Estates for Sale in Scottsdale and to search the Scottsdale MLS for Scottsdale Home Listings.