Personal Finance

Why You Should Wait To Buy A House

By David Krug David Krug is the CEO & President of Bankovia. He's a lifelong expat who has lived in the Philippines, Mexico, Thailand, and Colombia. When he's not reading about cryptocurrencies, he's researching the latest personal finance software. 8 minute read

You should evaluate your current situation to see if buying a home is the best move for you financially, personally, and professionally before you make the commitment. If you don’t, you can make a pricey and difficult-to-fix error while buying a house.

Your future happiness as a homeowner will depend on many factors, including your current financial situation and your anticipated lifestyle requirements. To help you decide if now or later is the right time to buy a home, we’ve compiled some factors to think about.

Considerations to Make Before Purchasing a Home

You shouldn’t take the decision to buy a property lightly. If you’re feeling the urge to make the move from renter to homeowner, remember that there are a lot of things to think about first.

1. Your Ability To Pay a Down Payment

The capacity to buy a home and maintain it once you have a mortgage depends heavily on your particular financial situation.

Is the first question whether or not you have enough money for a down payment. Most mortgage providers will want a down payment of at least 20% of the buying price of the home (PMI).

Having a smaller down payment means you’ll need to get private mortgage insurance (PMI) to safeguard the bank or mortgage lender in the event of default. The Urban Institute estimates that PMI costs anywhere from 0.58 percent to 1.86 percent of the principal loan amount, depending on how much you borrow, your credit score, and your lender.

A down payment of $10,000 on a $300,000 home would result in a $290,000 mortgage. Monthly PMI payments at 1% would add nearly $240 to your mortgage payment, and you’d spend almost $25,000 on mortgage insurance before you hit the 20% equity line.

An excessive sum of money for little return. Put off buying a property until you have saved up 20% of the cost, as this will allow you to avoid paying for private mortgage insurance.

2. The Affordability of Your Mortgage Payments

You should examine your financial situation to be sure you can afford a mortgage payment and other costs associated with homeownership even if you have saved enough for a 20% down payment on a property. 

The mortgage payment will have a significant impact on your monthly budget, and its amount is not always predictable.

Have you thought about the implications of, say, the mortgage type and interest rate on your monthly payments? With an adjustable-rate mortgage, your monthly payment could go up or down depending on the performance of an index rate, but with a fixed-rate mortgage, your payments will remain consistent until you refinance.

Adjustable-rate mortgages are popular because they often have lower initial interest rates than fixed-rate mortgages. However, if the interest rate rises, so will your mortgage payment, which can put a serious strain on your finances.

Do not choose an adjustable-rate mortgage unless you are quite sure that you can afford the higher monthly payments that will result from having a low credit score, low down payment, or high debt-to-income ratio. In that case, you might not be ready to purchase a home just yet.

3. Your Credit Situation

The fact that you have a comfortable financial situation now is no guarantee that you will continue to do so in the future. It’s not a good idea to take on a large financial obligation like a mortgage if you’ve recently switched jobs or are worried about your future in the workforce.

If you want to borrow money from a bank or other financial institution, you’ll need to show that you have a stable work history, preferably with the same employer or industry for at least two years. That’s why it’s risky to change careers within the past year while applying for a mortgage.

If you lose your job or incur large, unplanned expenses like medical bills or home repairs, having an emergency fund that can be used to make your mortgage payments will help you remain financially stable. It’s not a good idea to get into the housing market if you’re struggling to make ends meet and can’t afford to make any major purchases right now.

4. Your Credit Ranking

The likelihood of getting a mortgage and the interest rate given are both heavily dependent on the applicant’s credit score. The interest paid on a mortgage by a borrower with a credit score below 720 can easily add thousands to the total cost of buying a home.

Getting a copy of your credit report is the first step if you are unaware of your credit score. If your credit score is less than 720, you should take steps to raise it before making a major purchase like a home.

  • Eliminating negative hard inquiries from your credit record
  • Repaying loans and debts such as credit cards and car payments
  • Credit report correction
  • Paying bills on schedule and in full, such as those for a cell phone or a car.
    trying not to get any new loans or credit cards

Your credit score will rise over time if you make responsible use of your credit, pay your payments on time, and avoid taking on any new debt. Think about beginning the home-buying process when your credit score is high enough to get a good loan interest rate.

5. How Long Do You Want To Stay In One Place?

You shouldn’t rush into buying a property even if you have a great credit history and your own finances are in good shape. Consider how long you expect to live in the house before deciding if it’s a good time to become a first-time homebuyer.

Closing costs for a house sale might add several thousand dollars to the final price. They include things like the cost of getting a loan and the legal cost of transferring the title to the property.

Plus, the bulk of your first few mortgage payments won’t even be applied to the principal. Most of your initial mortgage payments, however, will go toward principal reduction.

Even if you do decide to sell, there are still charges to consider, such as the commission your real estate agent will ask for to help you close the deal.

Because of all these fees, it may be difficult to recoup your investment, much alone make a profit, on the sale of a home if you want to move within the following year or two.

It is suggested that homeowners stay in their homes for at least five years before selling to regain as much money as possible.

6. The Housing Market Currently

If you’re thinking about purchasing a home, you should give serious consideration to the current situation of the real estate market. The state of the housing market determines not only whether or whether you’ll have to compete with other buyers in a bidding war over a property, but also how much you’ll have to pay for it.

A buyer’s market is the best time to buy a home. A buyer’s market exists when there is an abundance of homes for sale compared to the number of people looking to buy.

Alternatively, a seller’s market occurs when there is greater demand than the supply of homes. Houses in a seller’s market are more expensive and more difficult to secure due to high demand. Housing prices can rise by as much as 100% in a 100% seller’s market.

Get in touch with a real estate professional to learn about the market before making a purchase. They will have knowledge of the ideal times to buy, the future predictions of the market, and whether you should wait until things stabilize before making a purchase.

7. Your Current Lifestyle Needs

Your present and planned way of life also have an impact on whether or not this is a good moment to buy a home. All of these things could play a role in your decision if you intend to get married, establish a kid, started a business, or take a long trip.

Your capacity to afford a mortgage and your motivation to remain in one location may be affected by the kind of lifestyle adjustments you anticipate making in the near future.

For instance, if you’re interested in freelancing and the digital nomad lifestyle, committing to a mortgage and permanent residence might be counterproductive. Or, if you plan to have a child soon, the expense of childcare may make it difficult for you to continue making your mortgage payments as usual.

8. Can You Afford the Home You Want?

Many factors, such as the home’s size, proximity to work, and availability of neighborhood services, should be taken into account when shopping for a new residence. The more desirable a house is, however, the higher its price will be.

Prioritize your needs and desires for a new house. Do you have a preferred neighborhood in mind, or would you rather have a downtown property that’s ready to move into right away? Your desired property may be priced higher than you had hoped, making it difficult to fit into your financial plan.

However, you shouldn’t have to accept a home that doesn’t meet your standards. Explore local real estate listings on Zillow to get a sense of what’s on the market and what you can afford. Wait for the market to improve or save up for the kind of house you’d be proud to call your own if you can’t find what you’re looking for.

9. The Price of Owning a Home

It’s not enough to have the money for a down payment and a clear idea of how you’ll handle the monthly mortgage payment before you can consider yourself a responsible homeowner. 

There are several out-of-pocket expenses you’ll incur when you own a home:

  • Homeowners Insurance
  • Maintenance 
  • Repairs
  • Property taxes
  • Utilities

You may be able to include items like insurance and property taxes in your monthly mortgage payment, but these are not part of the loan itself. Because of this, you won’t be able to borrow extra money from a lender to cover your higher monthly payment amounts.

Pay special attention to the entire monthly amount you might anticipate to repay, not just the mortgage payment because many mortgage calculators will include an estimate for property taxes and home insurance.

In order to avoid financial hardship, you should ensure that your current income and budget can cover all of these new expenses.

10. Why You Want to Buy It

Your reasons for wanting to buy a home should also be taken into account. Do you want to buy a house because you’ve recently landed a good job and are excited about becoming a homeowner, or are you just following the crowd?

As with any major purchase, you should wait until you are confident in your ability to do so financially, in your career prospects, and in your ability to achieve your desired lifestyle changes before making a purchase. You shouldn’t give in to pressure or act impulsively. 

Avoid putting yourself in a difficult financial situation that could lead to regret if you don’t wait until you’re ready.

Bottom Line

There are a number of elements, including your personal financial situation, the current mortgage rate, housing costs, and the real estate market, that affect whether or not you are prepared to purchase your first house. Buying a home is a huge financial and emotional investment.

Check your readiness to take on the responsibilities of homeownership before making a purchase. To decide whether or not now is the right moment to buy a home, you should look at your financial situation, think about what’s driving you, and investigate the local housing market.

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