The Top 4 Things I Had to Consider (and You Probably Will Too)
by Auxiliary i&i Financial Services, November 1st, 2021
It’s easily the biggest investment and expense of your life. You’re signing your name to a solid property where you will settle down roots and exit the life of a renter.
It’s both exciting and terrifying at the same time.
I’ve been there—the first home that I bought instead of renting gave me the biggest set of butterflies in the stomach I ever had.
Your Credit & Financial Health
Unless you are incredibly lucky, most of us have to think about a mortgage which means dealing with a bank or other lender and that means having not only a healthy savings account with a down payment but a reasonably clean credit rating.
The cleaner the better as this can impact interest rates and other factors to save you money in the long run. In addition to the down payment, expect to have at least three to six months of emergency funds just in case something happens so you do not default on the mortgage. Know where you spend your money and when to have a better handle on what kind of budget you will have.
It also will help you have a clear picture of how much mortgage you can afford compared to how much you could be pre-approved for—and this isn’t necessarily the same thing. Owning a home, no lie, will often feel like a constant game of “what else do I have to spend money on?” that you didn’t have to when renting.
Condo? House? Duplex? Fixer-Upper?
Ask yourself what you not only want long term but what you can handle. Do you enjoy yardwork or, in the least, don’t find it an onerous chore? If not, a condo which is much like living in an apartment building but instead of paying rent to a landlord, you own your unit. If the idea of a garden and being able to do what you want in your yard and a lawn (or no) appeals, then a condo will feel confining.
Also take into consideration where the majority of your working life will be as well as schools in the area if you have, or intend to have, a family. When it comes to a fixer-upper, go into this with realistic expectations of how much you can do and how long it will always seem to be under construction. If that doesn’t appeal, something that is closer to move-in ready, even if with simpler and less expensive surfaces and finishing, may be a better option.
How Much Mortgage You Can Carry and Qualify For
These are not necessarily the same thing. While you can qualify for more, it doesn’t necessarily mean you want to or should top out what you pre-qualified for. The other reason you want to do this is that most realtors won’t (and can’t) do their job if you don’t give them a concrete number to work with. Being pre-approved for the loan before shopping for the house will also speed the closing process up.
Who is Helping You During this Process?
In most cases, you’re working with a licensed realtor… you are working with a licensed realtor, right? If not, find one. While there are websites out there where you can be your own realtor, and while it is entirely possible to do that, a realtor is a trained (and licensed) professional who specializes in helping you find your best home based on how much house you can afford and many other factors—and help you avoid any yawning chasms in the form of pitfalls that a website won’t.
Is this an exhaustive list? No, but it is a good overview of what you will have to consider. Is it worth it? That’s a great question to bring up the next time you meet with your financial advisor!
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