Are you ready for home ownership?
Owning a home may be your dream, but in order for the purchase to be the happy and satisfying experience it was meant to be, you need to ensure that you are financially and mentally prepared for the responsibilities that come with it.
Some people have a notion that home ownership is like renting, but with the power to have pets and paint the walls whatever color you like. However, while these privileges are available to homeowners in most municipalities, they come with the responsibilities of a mortgage, taxes and home maintenance. Preparing for home ownership requires you to take critical stock of your finances and your expectations. But there's more to it than that.
Make sure you have answers to the following 4 questions before you start the home buying process.
- Are you ready to buy? Owning your own home is about more than just being able to decorate any way you like; it's about being prepared to maintain your home over the years, realizing that part of your income and time will go towards repairs and maintenance. It's about being willing to take the risks of home ownership with a realistic expectation of the rewards.
- How much can you afford? It can be discouraging to find that your salary won't stretch as far as the home you want to own. However, sacrificing a huge part of your income just to pay the mortgage can very quickly make home ownership a burden rather than a point of pride. It's better to buy a modest home now and look at purchasing your "dream home" in a few years.
- What is your debt-to-income ratio? This is something that lenders take very seriously. Your overall debt should not be more than 40% of your income, and your housing debt should not be more than 32%. What 32% of your income will buy depends on where you want to live. In rural or downtrodden areas for example, it can buy a very comfortable residence and ample acreage. In highly sought-after urban areas however, it may not even buy a 400 square foot bachelor suite.
- What do you want? Do you like the idea of cleaning your own gutters? Do you shudder at the thought of lawn care? Would you rather just pay a fee every month and have everything done for you? Would obeying rules about when you can have your garbage cans out bother you, or do you want to live in a neighborhood where everything is 'just so'? The answers to these questions can help you narrow down the search for the right type of property for you.
Whether this is the first time you've begun to ponder the answers to these questions, or you've got a detailed response to each one, it's never a bad idea to consult with an expert!
6 ways we can help:
- Provide you with an expert agent. Our real estate team is dedicated to helping you find the right home, at the best price. As your Buyer's Representative, we can make the process of house hunting much easier and more efficient than if you did it all yourself. We can help you get financing, guide you to local neighborhoods, help you determine your budget, and prioritize a list of essential features that you need in your next home. We'll save you valuable time by finding the properties that best suit your requirements, and will show you only the most promising ones.
- Keep you on track. Sometimes the idea of owning a home can overwhelm your practical sense, so keep your feelings in check. Keep a list handy of the features that you need and want in a home, and judge each home by the list instead of by details that could distract you from your goal. When you're alone with your agent, you can go over the pros and cons of each home. We can help you stay on track while still keeping our eyes out for a great property.
- Make recommendations on service providers. Whether it's a banker, lawyer or home inspector, our team can recommended several top-notch companies who have a track record of success. You can interview them to ensure you get someone you work well with. When it comes to real estate, the legalities of transferring land ownership can be dodgy, and a lawyer, in particular, can be your best defense against future legal troubles. A good lawyer can charge several hundred to over a thousand dollars for their services, but the dollars saved in legal fees later on makes it worth the money.
- Prepare the paperwork. This can be a maze of "buyer", "seller", "chattels", "deposit", and "completion". We'll be happy to prepare the offer and go through it with you before submitting it. Remember, the seller may reject or counter your offer, so even at this late date, avoid setting your heart on the home you hope to own. You'll probably have to write a deposit check to the seller's broker that proves the seriousness of your offer.
- Handle inspections. A home inspector will check for signs of harmful materials like asbestos, lead paint and mold. They'll also check for evidence of pests, faulty wiring and leaks. This is a crucial part of the home purchase. Not getting an inspection done means that you could be stuck in a home with a bad case of black mold and no recourse other than to pay for its removal. Inspections will cost a few hundred dollars, but again, this is more than worth it in the end.
- Conduct a final walk-through. Before the deal is done, we'd be happy to conduct a final walk-through with you to make sure that everything agreed upon is completed prior to the final signing.