The decision over whether buying or renting a home makes sense is dependent on many different factors. How long you plan to live in the area, what your priorities are in living conditions, and your financial situation all factor into the decision you will make. If you think you are ready to buy a home, there are several things you can do to make the process as seamless as possible.
Make Sure Your Career is Stable
Before committing to a mortgage, you want to be sure that you are in the best possible shape to make those payments. While no one can predict what the future holds, having a stable career, with a solid employment history, puts you in the best position to repay your obligations. You may find it difficult to qualify for a mortgage if your career path is less than stable. If you do not have a degree, or if you haven’t completed it yet, now is the time to do so. A college degree increases your employment options as well as your income over your working life. Taking out private student loans allows you to finance your education, and you may even find that your credit score bumps up a little with the addition of a student loan on your history.
Check Your Financial Situation
In today’s tight rental market, you may find that rent and mortgage payments are similar. While you may feel that this makes purchasing is a financial no-brainer, some expenses go along with the purchasing process as well as ownership that you should consider. Closing costs can be several thousand dollars. You will need to have this money on hand when you close. You may also need to pay for an inspection before you even make an offer. Once you are an owner, you should plan to keep an emergency fund dedicated to maintenance and repair. As an owner, there is no landlord or maintenance supervisor to call when something goes wrong.
Get Familiar with the Market
When you first start the buying process, spend time looking to see what is available. The less rushed you are during this time, the more likely you are to find a home you love. In addition to features you like, you should consider commute times, quality of schools if that is an issue or will be in the future, and how walkable the area is if that is important to you. Also, consider the outside areas of the home. If you are someone who enjoys sitting outside in the evening, you want a home that is conducive to that. If you are more of an indoor person, this will be lower on your priority list.
It is easy to fall in love with a grand kitchen, but if you rarely cook, it should not be a deciding factor. Likewise, beautifully landscaped flower beds can create an amazing yard, but they also require a great deal of time to maintain. If you are not a fan of gardening, they will quickly lose their appeal when they are your responsibility. Knowing what is important to you, and what matters less, is the best way to ensure you find a home you love.