Let’s face it! One of the great American dreams is home ownership. A place where you can hang out and do your own thing. Your castle in a sometimes chaotic and confusing world. And that’s just a Monday. (Sorry. Couldn’t resist a little humor.)
Once upon a time the benchmark of success was getting married and moving into a house. Any more home ownership isn’t guaranteed. So how do you know if you are ready to buy a home of your own? That’s a question I ask myself a lot and the biggest factor is financial stability.
So here are a few things that can help you with determining if you’re ready. The easiest way to know is to sit down with a Mortgage Specialist with the last two years taxes. They’ll be able to tell you if you qualify since they are familiar with the criteria a financial institute will review when considering financing a home loan.
However let’s say you don’t want to sit down with a Mortgage Specialist. What’s the alternative? Thanks to the internet there is a veritable smorgasbord of information at the tips of your fingers. My favorite search engine is google, so when I need to research I go there and type in what I want to know. Generally you will be shown many great articles but don’t rule out more unconventional places to look. Just today I was doing a search on YouTube and was amazed at all the realtors and financial institutes that provide good information for consumers. Hopefully the internet has lead you here.
So here are the questions that I ask myself when I think of owning a home:
- What is my credit score like? A quick check using google hints that you need a minimum score between 580 and 620. I think the lowest I have heard is 550.
- Do I have a good credit history? It isn’t enough to just have a good score. If you have a bankruptcy or foreclosure but have turned your score around, it can still hurt you.
- How much money do I have in my budget to work with? I have found that sometimes it costs less to own a home than to pay rent in Arkansas. The ideal situation would be to find a home that is the same or less than your current rent. There are various calculators on the net that can help you to figure out how much you can realistically pay for a home based on what you currently pay.
- How long have I been at my current job? Financial institutes want to know that you are gainfully employed and have a good work history. If you whiff waffle between jobs, you may not qualify for a loan. The rule of thumb is to have been in your current job at least 6 months. For sure a year.
- Do I want to base the loan on one income or two? If you are single, there isn’t really much of a choice. If you are married, it may be wiser to base your loan on the income of one working adult. That will give you some wiggle room should something happen down the road that makes it hard to pay for your home loan.
- Can I find homes that are near work? Maybe it is better to stay where you are if it is convenient to the places you frequent and especially work. If you move to a different location, that can sometimes significantly affect your budget.
- What additional costs might I accrue with home ownership? To buy a home you will be required to have home owner insurance. You will also be on the hook for all the utilities, garbage disposal, and a lot of things that may have previously been included in your rent. I’d recommend talking with friends that are home owners and finding out what those things run to get a general idea of added expenses.
- If you are really serious about buying a home, definitely talk to your friends and family that own homes. They will be a wealth of information for you based on their experience.
At this point you are probably sufficiently weighed down with tasks. Hopefully this article has given some insight into things to think about when deciding if you are really ready to buy a home.