Now it is time for you to look deep into your heart (and bank account) and decide if you are ready to buy a home. Finding your motivation and specifying your wants and needs is a good beginning, but there are other things to consider before taking the leap into home ownership.
What’s your financial situation?
What’s your debt load? Credit cards, utilities, car payments, childcare and groceries are factors to consider. Don’t forget the money for a broken air conditioning unit will be coming out of your pocket. Will you be able to handle unforeseen emergencies, monthly bills and a mortgage payment? As a rule of thumb, no more than 28 percent of your gross monthly income should be used for housing payments.
How’s your credit history? Delinquent credit card and bank payments, past bankruptcies or a student loan that’s unpaid can severely affect your ability to get a mortgage loan. For a small fee you can obtain a credit report on yourself and clear up any misunderstandings before applying for a loan.
What’s your employment history?
If you have been working continuously for the past two years, a lender should consider this to be steady employment. This does not mean that to be approved for a mortgage loan you need to have worked at the same place for two years; in fact, job changes can be favorable, especially for an increase in pay.
However, if your work history has not been continuous for the last two years, as long as you have a reasonable explanation for any breaks in employment, you still may qualify for a loan.
Have you saved money for a down payment and closing costs?
In addition to the amount of money you will have to borrow for your home, the lender will require you to invest, in cash, around five to twenty percent of the purchase price toward the loan. If you are looking at a $100,000 home, a ten percent down payment would be $10,000.
Closing costs are additional expenses incurred throughout the buying process that must be paid for in cash, like attorney and inspection fees, escrow charges and document fees. Closing costs are typically five percent of the purchase price of your home, so add another $5,000 to your $100,000 home.