Judy Spencer Dona, CRS, GRI, BROKER's Blog
Buying a home is one of the biggest purchases that you’ll ever make in your lifetime. You’ll spend decades of your life making mortgage payments to pay off your home loan. Buying a home is more than just simply finding a place to live. It’s also a financial decision. Your home helps you to build equity, gives you tax deductions, and helps you to have some security in your financial future.
One of the biggest questions that you’ll have when you buy a home is “How much can I spend?” To answer this question, you’ll need to dig a little deeper.
Do You Have Money For A Down Payment?
The standard amount of money that you’ll need for a down payment is 20 percent of the purchase price of a home. If you don’t have the money for a full down payment, you’ll need to pay for private mortgage insurance (PMI). This could add up to be an extra cost of hundreds of dollars per month in additional insurance payments on top of your mortgage and every other kind of expense that goes along with buying a home. You’ll need to take the time to save up for a down payment if you’re a first time homebuyer. If you already own a home, the equity that you have in that home can help you with the down payment.
What Are Your Other Financial Responsibilities?
There’s more to buying a home than just the monthly mortgage payment. You’ll need to get insurance, pay taxes, and have some money set aside for repair and decorating costs. You’ll need to look at your monthly income to find out just how much you can afford on a home. You should take an honest look at your lifestyle and existing expenses in order to determine a comfortable monthly mortgage payment for you.
Know Your Credit Score
Your credit score will be a major factor in how much house you’ll be able to afford. Your lender will use your credit score and credit history to help determine what type of interest rate you’ll get and how much they’re willing to lend you in order to buy a home.
Understanding what you can afford for a home purchase is crucial before you even start shopping. It’s a good idea to meet with a lender to get pre-qualified. This is different than getting pre-approved. Your lender will give you a general idea of how much you can spend on a home without digging too deep into your finances. Getting pre-qualified is a great place to start when you’re looking at the numbers of being a homeowner.
Have you heard the term “earnest money” but really aren’t sure what it means? Once you have found the perfect home and are all set to make an offer, there’s one more step that you need to take. That’s to make a deposit on the home you want to buy. This is known as an “earnest money deposit.”
The Purpose Of The Deposit
The deposit shows the seller that you’re serious about buying the home. It’s a measure that allows the seller to have some faith in you as a buyer that you’re truly moving forward with your decision; you’re ready as a buyer to make the financial commitment. This deposit allows the deal to begin on a solid basis without much question.
Is The Deposit Required Legally To Buy A Home?
From a seller’s perspective, a deposit keeps a buyer from changing their mind. If there is a significant amount of money involved, the seller sees the deposit as a way to keep the buyer locked in. This makes it easier for sellers to accept an offer.
How Much Is Expected For An Earnest Money Deposit?
These deposits don’t quite have a standard amount. The general rule is that they range from 1% of the home price up to 5%. The more expensive of a home that’s being purchased, the larger the earnest money deposit should be. In some cases, the seller may even ask for a certain amount of a deposit to ensure that buyers are serious. How much money you pay at once is often negotiable. You may be able to pay part of the money at one time and the other part at a later date.
New Construction Can Require Large Deposits
New construction homes can require large earnest money deposits- up to half of the purchase price of the home. This is because the construction costs need to be paid upfront and the bank wants proof that the units being constructed with loan money are being sold to buyers who can pay for the home.
New construction homes are often customized as well. It would be detrimental to a developer to make special changes to a home only for a buyer to walk away.
Getting The Deposit Refunded
As with everything in real estate, you’ll have a contract. If you don’t follow the terms of the contract, you risk losing your earnest money deposit. Two main reasons for buyers to walk away are a flopped home inspection or financing that falls through. Read your contracts carefully. Sellers sometimes state that deposits are nonrefundable after a certain number of days.
You need to be sure that you are covered as a buyer in the purchase and sales agreement. If you back out of a home purchase without good reason like a contingency included in the agreement) you could be out of luck when it comes to getting your deposit back.
Buying a home may seem like a smart financial move. However, it may not always be the right time or the right move for you. While buying a home is a great investment, you may not be ready to buy a home of your own. The following questions should help you to determine whether or not you are fully ready to buy a house in the near future.
How Much Money Do You Make? How Much Have You Saved?
buying a home is a significant expense. First, you’ll need quite a large sum of money for a downpayment and closing costs on the home. Second, to get approved for a mortgage, the lender will look at every part of your finances from your income to your assets. Once the home is purchased, you’ll also need quite a bit of capital for expenses including insurance, taxes, HOA fees, emergency funds, utilities, and furniture. You don’t want to buy a home only to be overwhelmed with costs. You want enough of a financial cushion to enable you to furnish your home, decorate your home, and not have a completely empty bank account. That’s why you should make sure that you do make enough money to buy a home.
How Much Debt Do You Have?
If you have established that your income is enough to buy a home, the next thing that you need to establish is that your debt isn’t too high. Before you enter into the adventure of homeownership, you’ll need to make sure that your bills are under control. These expenses include things like car loans, student loans, and credit card bills. Your lender will put your debt into consideration as a part of your entire financial picture. Your debt (including your proposed mortgage payment) should be less than around 36% of your gross income. Before you take the leap into buying a home, you’ll need to make sure that your debt is under control. If you need to take a step back and pay your bills down before you start house hunting, you should as it will make buying a home easier for you.
Are You Seasoned At Your Job?
In order to secure a mortgage for a home, you’ll need to show that you have been at the same job for a certain period of time. Your average income will probably be calculated based on how long you have been at the company and your job history. You should be able to explain any income gaps, changes in positions or companies. Otherwise, you’ll appear to be an unstable person to lend to. Lenders want to know that you’ll have a steady, stable income.
How Is Your Credit?
In order to secure a mortgage, you’ll need to have a good credit score. Check on your credit report when you begin thinking about buying a home. If your credit is on the low side, you’ll want to work on bringing that score up.
When you buy a home, you suddenly realize that your wallet and bank account become quickly drained with all of the expenses involved. If you want to save money when you own a home, you’ll need to find ways to cut down on your spending. This takes some creativity and some budgeting. The good news is that you don’t have to sacrifice everything in order to live in the home you want. There are many ways that you can trim your budget and you probably never even thought of them.
The Grocery Store
We all need to eat, so you definitely can’t eliminate food from your budget! You can get your grocery bill down significantly with some careful planning.
One of the biggest problems that people have, when they head to the grocery store, is that they simply shop without a plan. Make a list of what you need to buy. There are certain things that just about everyone needs every grocery trip like milk, bread, and eggs. If you go into the store with a list, you’ll have a plan that you can stick to. Know what you’re going to cook and what everyone will eat throughout the week. If you bring coupons along on a grocery trip, try not to bring anything that you don’t have use for. You’ll overspend if you buy just based on coupons. After you start your new system, you can have a clear budget that will become a habit over the course of time.
Don’t Pay For What You Don’t Use
Are you paying for things like a landline telephone or cable? Do you actually use these services? Cutting the cords can save you a lot of expenses. Also, you’re truly wasting money if you’re paying for something that you don’t use. There’s also some cheaper alternatives available when it comes to these types of services.
Do More Yourself
While you may have relied on the luxury of a cleaning service or a landscaping service, you can cut these things out of your budget. It’s fairly simple to clean up after yourself, just set some standards with your family in order to keep the house up. As far as landscaping, you can probably do some of the mowing and raking on your own. You can still keep these services, but perhaps you want to save the maid for an every other month deep cleaning of your home.
Other Places To Cut Expenses
Depending upon your lifestyle and needs, there are probably a few other places that you can save in your budget. These include:
- Seeing where you can save on insurance policies
- Finding alternatives for pet care and child care
- Cutting back on your commuting costs by carpooling or using public transport
When you take a good look at your budget, you’ll see that there are plenty of ways that you can start saving, yet still live in the home of your dreams and keep your lifestyle.