How Do I Know When I’m Ready to Buy a House?

Whitney Sparks "A Fearless Heart"

I have heard many people talk about the possibility of buying a home so I thought this might be a good time to tell you what little I know about purchasing a house.  I am telling you some of these things to help you prevent the mistakes that Greg and I made.  Although, it’s hard for me to say that purchasing a home is a mistake because it is still an investment – just not in liquid form.   Still, there are some things that you need to be aware of before purchasing a home of your own.

WHEN YOU…

 

HAVE A 20% DOWN PAYMENT

One reason you will want to have at least a 20% down payment on your home is so that you can receive the best interest rate.  Remember that this is an investment you will be making over the next 15-30 years (depending on which loan you take out) and you don’t want to be stuck with a high interest rate for 30 years.  www.washingtonpost.com

Also, if you have your 20% down payment, you will avoid paying for PMI – Private Mortgage Insurance.  PMI is an insurance policy that protects lenders if the borrower defaults on the loan agreement.  (www.ehow.com)  We did not have much of a down payment when we bought our house so we pay $36.21 per month for this insurance.  If we had saved for a higher down payment, then we would be saving $434.52 a year.

CAN AFFORD PAYING HIGHER BILLS

You need to ask a lot of questions before purchasing any home.  One of the questions that we asked is what the owners paid for utilities.  Since we live in Texas, then I would probably ask how much the utilities cost in August (hottest part of the year) and how much they cost in February (coldest part of the year – sometimes).  Remember to keep in mind your square footage when you think about heating/cooling.  We moved from a 1/1 apartment where we paid very little for utilities to a house where sometimes our bill can exceed $300 a month.  You might also ask if the utilities are run on gas or electric.  Everything in our home is electric, but I have heard that gas is usually cheaper and more efficient.  Don’t ever be afraid to ask questions!

You also need to consider what other bills may be coming in now that you have a house.  Included in our house payment is homeowner’s insurance and taxes.  You don’t pay these things when living in an apartment.  We also have cable and internet bundled, but I’m sure most of you already pay some kind of cable bill while renting.  Just make sure to consider all of these extra amenities in your monthly costs.

CAN BUY ITEMS TO UPKEEP YOUR HOME

Buy a lawn mower!  Don’t forget that along with a house usually comes a yard.  You will need yard maintenance equipment to help take care of your yard.  Remember that in some cities you can be fined if your yard is not kept up to code.

Also, make sure to plan for things like curtains and furniture.  Again, these are not things that we really planned for when buying our home.  We barely had enough to put paint on the walls.  Look around the house to see what it will need.  I am not saying that your new house needs to be fully furnished, but you want your house to feel like a home.

 

HAVE EXTRA CASH ON HAND FOR THE UNEXPECTED

Within the first year that we bought our home, our garbage disposal and hot water heater both went out.  On top of that, we had a huge water leak in the front yard which was a complete disaster.  Fortunately, our sellers paid for the first year of our home-owner’s insurance so we were able to pay for those items at a very low cost.  All I can say is, “Be prepared for the worst!”.

I don’t want to scare you in any way, but just remember that your landlord will not be there to bail you out.  You are the new landlord!  Anything that goes wrong, will come out of your pocket.  Our next big purchase will be a new air conditioner which will cost somewhere in the vicinity of $6,000.  We are saving up now to prepare for the inevitable.

Did this help you in your decision to purchase a home or will you wait and think it over a little more?

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