Are You Ready For Homeownership?
Many of us start out the New Year with resolutions and a reevaluation of our priorities and goals. If you’ve never owned a home before, but have been toying with the idea, this is a good time for you to take stock and think about the pros and cons of owning your own home. Traditionally, homeownership has been considered a good investment and an important part of long-range financial strategy. That doesn’t mean, however, that homeownership is for everyone. If you are considering taking the plunge and purchasing a home, ask yourself a few key questions before making the decision to take on a mortgage.
- Am I ready to buy a house? Homeownership is a big responsibility. If you are considering homeownership because someone is pressuring you or you’ve been told that you should own a home by the time you are a certain age, you might want to reconsider. On the other hand, if you are ready to settle down, want permanence, and love the freedom of being able to renovate your kitchen or paint your bathroom that perfect shade of chartreuse – now might be the time for that first home.
- What can I afford? Before you even start to dream about a 2 or 3-bedroom home or choose a neighborhood, make an honest assessment of your financial status. What is your income, expenses, savings, debt? Now is the time to be realistic. No sense setting your hopes on a home that is not realistic; it just leads to frustration and disappointment. When considering what you can afford, be sure to take into consideration all the things that your landlord has traditionally taken care of as well. Property taxes, insurance, home repairs, and maintenance will become your responsibility when you are a homeowner.
- What are my long-term financial goals? Building equity in a home is a time-honored strategy to deepen the pockets for many homeowners. Whether this will work for you depends on your goals as well as the current market conditions.
- Can I qualify for a loan? This is kind of part 2 of the “What can I afford?” question. Be prepared to show lenders your pay stubs and tax returns going back 2 or 3 years. Do you have a good credit score? How about down payment? Lenders generally like to see a healthy financial commitment on your part – how much depends on your credit and the kind of loan you qualify for.
- Will the house suit my needs in the future? If you have a growing family, you will want to find a house that will work as the kids get older – or as you make additions to the family. A house that is just right for you now, may not work in three or four years. The hip neighborhood you have your eye on now may not be the ideal community to raise your children in.
After giving these questions some serious thought, the best advice I can give you is to find a good realtor. Once you have made the decision to buy a home and made an honest appraisal of what you can afford, a realtor who is knowledgeable about the homes and market conditions in the area you are interested in will be invaluable. Interview a few and find one that you like and feel comfortable with. Your realtor will be working with you as your advocate and you want one with knowledge and expertise. You can get a few good tips on choosing a buyers agent here.
Whether you are a first time homebuyer or are already a homeowner and would like to relocate, I would love to help you find the right house, at the right price, in the right neighborhood – whether it is an Eichler, contemporary, or traditional style home. Give me a call at 415-EICHLER (415 342- 4537) or contact me via our Eichler For Sale website to set up a ‘no obligation’ appointment.