Are you a first-time home buyer eager to get into the market? Here are steps to take to help you decide whether you’re ready to take the plunge.
1. Check the selling prices of comparable homes in your area. Visit various sites that can give you a general idea of what you should expect to pay. You can do a quick search of actual multi-listing services listings in your area on a number of web sites.
2. See what you can afford. Use a mortgage calculator to see what your payment would be. To get a sense of maximum you should spend, use a home affordability calculator.
3. Find out what your total monthly housing cost would be, including taxes and homeowners insurance. In some areas, what you’ll pay for your taxes and insurance escrow can almost double your morgage payment.
To get an idea of what you’ll pay in insurance, pick a property in the area where you want to live and make a call to local insurance agent for an estimate. You won’t be obligated to get the insurance, but you’ll have a good idea of what you’ll pay if you buy. Take note that various exemptions and intricacies of local tax laws can create differences between what a homeowner is currently paying and what you can expect to pay as a new homeowner.
4. Find out how much you’ll likely pay in closing costs. the upfront cost on settling on your home shouldn’t be overlooked. Closing costs include origination fees charged by the lender, title and settlement fees, taxes and prepaid such as homeowners insurance or homeowners association fees.
5. Look at your budget and determine how a house fits into it. It is recommended that buyers spend no more than 28% of their income on housing costs. Go much past 30% and you risk becoming house poor.
6. Talk to reputable real-estate agents in your area about the real-estate climate. Do they believe prices will continue falling or do they think your area has hit bottom or will rise soon?
7. Remember to look at the big picture. While buying a house is a great way to build wealth, maintaining your investment can be labor-intensive and expensive. When unexpected costs for new appliances, roof repairs, and plumbing problems crop up, there’s no landlord to turn to, and these costs can drain your bank account.