You’ve been a renter for a long time because you knew you had wanderlust and might pick up and move at the end of your lease. Now you’ve stayed in the same place for a couple of years. You’ve put down roots and built relationships. You have a sense of community. But are you ready to buy?
Buying a home feels like a big commitment, and it is, so it should! You may not be choosing your forever home just yet, but no matter if it’s a starter home or the one you want to raise a family in, buying a home locks you into the community, to a mortgage payment, and to the structure.
Learn all you can
When you rent, you only have your rent and a few utilities to factor into your budget. With a home, you’ll have your principle and interest on your mortgage. You’ll also have property taxes and insurance. And, depending on your underwriting situation, you may have PMI (private mortgage insurance), too!
Practice making payments
Use one of the many online mortgage calculators to determine your potential principal and interest. Then, check out the county taxes for where you want to buy—some online calculators even have a place to enter this as well as PMI. Add in an average insurance premium for your area. Now that you more closely have an idea of what your monthly payments will be. If it is higher than your current rent, start setting aside the difference now. You need to know that you can make the payment before you get into the house.
Factor in maintenance
The area buyers are most surprised about is the cost of maintenance. The A/C goes down, oops $4000. The roof leaks, that’s another $2500. Plumbing backs up and ruins the carpet? Now you have to pay for both plumbing and flooring. Insisting on a home warranty (that the seller provides) and mitigate some of these costs in the early years, but ongoing they are all yours, baby!
You may be planning to do your own and will have the one-time expense of equipment, but if not, you’ll need to add in extra for regular landscaping. If you have a pool, you have to figure extra for pool care.
Since you won’t have a landlord to call, you’ll need to factor in pest control for bugs and rodents.
Ownership is a beautiful thing, but being prepared is more beautiful. Ask your real estate agent about classes or seminars on home ownership that you can participate in to adequately prepare.