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Are you sure you need to buy a house?

Updated: Sep 20, 2018

There are many good reasons to own the roof over your head, but there are many tradeoffs as well. Here's how to decide if the time is right for you.

Off course there are good reasons to own a home. But there are just as many reasons why you shouldn’t. If there is one thing we have learned over the years is that home ownership may not be the best move all the time.

Don’t get us wrong, there are plenty of good reasons to own your piece of the American dream. But there are many trade-offs as well. With the added responsibility comes a whole new world of responsibilities. Adulting is a big job.

So, the bottom line is, you must make sure home ownership is right for you.

Here are five questions to ask before you make the leap into ownership.

1) Are my finances in order?

If money is tight thanks to bills, home ownership will just add more strain. To get into your new home the best of circumstances, you’ve saved at least $5,000 on the low end. Your going to need a few months of your current income saved in the bank.

That $5,000 is money in addition to the saving. You are going to need that money for upcoming expenses. The down payment for your home is another story there are mortgages that will let you put 1.5% down and grants available. But to be honest, you don’t want to have to rely on those programs.

2) Do you love it here?

Back in the day people bought a home and lived there for 20-30 years. Lately buying made sense if you planned to stay put for at least three to five years. Nowadays, many financial planners are recommending an even longer window.

You must make sure you are where you want to be today and tomorrow. Life doesn’t come with a crystal but, but if you know for sure you plan on making a move cross country in 5 years, starting a business in 10 months or you want to start a real estate empire buying smart is key. Buying the right home in the right place can make your dreams reality. The wrong house in the wrong area forget about it!

3) What is the cost of owning?

If you’re on solid financial ground and ready to make a longer-term commitment, the next step is to get a realistic estimate of what you can expect to spend, and how that breaks down monthly.

Your monthly payment is just the beginning of what you can afford. Speak to a realtor a financial expert for the real cost. Mortgage calculators work but only give you an estimate. Those online calculators may not include property taxes, property insurance, mortgage insurance, interest rates and down payment amounts.

4) And what are the hidden expenses?

There are many additional costs of homeownership that many new buyers overlook. Ever heard of home owner association fees? This additional fee can add hundreds of dollars to your monthly expense, and it’s not uncommon for owners to get hit with special cost for projects not covered in the regular budget.

Depending on where you live you may need to add trash fees, well and septic maintenance and more. Every home will have it’s on money pit. Some are small and routine others will drive you bonkers.

5) What’s happening in my market?

Economists may talk about real estate in national terms, but the market varies greatly from one city to the next, even from one neighborhood to the next. In many cities, the rental market is as competitive, if not more competitive. For example, there are many apartments on the West End of Henrico, whose rent will equal the mortgage of a home right across the street.

Real life numbers mean renters are spending more than 30% of their income on housing. For renters, an improving economy means rents increase. Getting into a market where you see values increasing may mean you have to start at the smaller side of owning a home, but it will yield you a greater return later.

So that’s is where the rubber meets the road of owning you own home. Your needs, current financial standing and future determines your need of getting in to a mortgage

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