Financial Fundamentals Blog

Am I Ready To Buy A House?

Happy couple standing outside of their new home


Ever heard someone say that you’re throwing your money away if you’re renting? Or that you’re not building equity in your own home?


Anyone who is currently renting has heard those kinds of phrases. However, the truth is that not everyone is ready to purchase their own home—and not everyone should purchase one. If you’re not actually ready to purchase your first house, it will be more of a burden than a blessing.


At this point you’re probably wondering, “Am I ready to buy a house?” and how to prepare to purchase one. Let’s explore what you need to know about purchasing your first home so you can determine if it’s the right time for you.


Are You Ready to Buy a House?

Looking for an answer to the burning question “Am I ready to buy a house?” Explore the sections below to determine if it’s the right time.


Consider Your Current Debts

First, how much debt do you have and how much are you paying on it each month? If you have an large amount of credit card debt, it may not be the right time to purchase your own home. Instead, you’ll want to focus on lowering or eliminating your credit card balances.


This is because you’ll want to direct extra funds each month toward paying off your balances instead of directing the funds to saving for your down payment. This will also help improve your credit score, which is an important factor in determining your mortgage rates.


Save for a Down Payment

The larger your down payment, the smaller your overall mortgage loan and monthly payment. Many conventional mortgages can be acquired for as low as 3 percent of the house’s value, but ideally, you’ll want a 20 percent down payment to avoid paying private mortgage insurance (PMI). This is a type of insurance policy that protects your mortgage lender in case you stop making mortgage payments.


However, government-backed mortgages from agencies like the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), Veterans Affairs (VA), or United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) loans may be acquired for as low as a 3.5 percent down payment (or no down payment at all) and may not have added PMI.


Evaluate if You Can Afford a Mortgage Payment

Can your current budget handle a house payment? Your mortgage shouldn’t take up more than 25 percent of your take-home income. If your mortgage payment is more than 25 percent of your take-home pay, it’s going to make your budget too tight and may prevent you from putting money toward other goals, such as saving for retirement or contributing to an emergency fund.


Remember that your monthly payment isn’t just your principal mortgage loan amount and interest. It’s also property taxes, homeowners insurance, homeowners association fees (if applicable), and PMI if you make a down payment of less than 20 percent.


Homeowners insurance isn’t necessary by law, but your mortgage lender will require it until the loan is paid off. This insurance adds to your monthly payment, which may seem like a hassle; but keep in mind that if there’s a fire in the house and you don’t have it, you’ll pay out of pocket to replace what was damaged.


Consider Where You Want To Live

One of the biggest things you need to do is consider where you want to live and make sure it’s a place where you can and want to stay put for a while. If you’re planning on staying in your area for less than five years, it might not be the wisest idea to purchase a home. This is because it generally takes at least five years for a house to grow enough in value to prevent you from losing money when it’s sold.


Remember the Extra Moving Costs

Moving isn’t just your down payment! Remember that there are plenty of moving costs that you’ll want to be prepared for. These include but aren’t limited to:

  • Moving supplies
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Home repairs
  • Upgrades to your new home before moving
  • Moving companies, if applicable
  • Moving trucks

Take the Right Path Toward Acquiring Your Dream House

Purchasing a home is a large step that requires a lot of preparation. Make sure you’re properly planning for one of life’s biggest events by exploring our homebuying tips.