Buying your first home is a big step – but how do you know when you’re really ready? Whether you’ve been saving for years or are looking to take advantage of timely interest rates, we’ve identified a few signs that indicate you’re ready to take the leap and purchase.
1. Financially Free
A big part of owning a home is taking on the “debt” of the mortgage. Before you purchase, make sure you get your finances in order by eliminating debt, increasing your credit score, and saving up for a significant down payment. Paying down your credit cards, car loans, and student loans allows you to make room in your budget for the costs that come along with being a homeowner.
Tip: Ensuring all of your loan payments are on time could help you get a better rate on your mortgage.
2. Looking for Long-Term Commitment
Before purchasing, ask yourself, are you ready to settle down? Owning your home is a big commitment, not just to the physical house, but also to where it is located. A general rule of thumb is to ensure you are planning to stay in the area for at least 3-5 years. This means a steady career, taxes you can afford, and if you have children, a school district you like.
3. Realistic Expectations
Most of the time, if you’ve been renting for a few years the amount you pay in rent is similar to a mortgage payment. However, it’s important to remember the other costs associated with owning a home. Be sure not to forget about factors like property taxes, insurance, homeowner association fees, regular maintenance and more. Having realistic expectations of what you can afford to shell out allows you to purchase the right home for you.
4. You’ve Been Prequalified or Preapproved
It’s a good idea to get prequalified or preapproved so you have a better idea of how much house you can afford, and thus set a realistic budget. This also shows sellers that you are serious about the commitment, and they can count on you to go through with the deal in the end. Before applying, take a hard look at your credit score, debt to income ratio, and employment history as these are factors that play into the approval process.
Tip: If you have a good credit history but haven’t been able to save for a down payment, Lake Shore Savings Bank has programs that require no monies down for qualified individuals. Learn more here.
It may seem like everyone around you is buying a house, but the process of purchasing your first home is a very personal experience. Everyone arrives at that milestone at a different time in their life. It’s important to make sure you’re ready, and once you’ve checked all these things off your list, you are in a solid place to purchase your first home. For help on getting on the right path to your home, visit our website or stop in to any of our branches and speak with a representative today!