Everyone starts out renting. When you leave your parent’s house for the first time, move to college or away for a job, you rent an apartment. And it feels pretty independent. But over time, as your career and maturity progress, you begin to realize that home ownership has a certain appeal. Putting down roots, getting an investment return on your housing costs, these things are practical adult decisions. Not to mention the dream of homeownership that many of us have even as teenagers.
But the right time to buy your first house isn’t the same for everyone. Your finances matter as much as your maturity, though both play a significant role. Are you ready to buy your first house? Compare your own situation to the top 10 signs of homeownership readiness.
1.You’ve Saved Up for a Down Payment + Expenses
One of the clearest signs that someone is personally ready to own a house is the size of their savings. Buying a house usually requires a downpayment or deposit, anywhere from 3% to 20% of the home price, plus closing costs. If you look for pre-construction developments, often, they will extend incentives that help alleviate these fees and let you keep some of your hard earned dough in the bank.
2.You’ve Had the Same Job (or Stable Employment) for 2+ Years
Banks love to see savings in the bank, but they also care about the financial lifestyle of lendees. And what they really care about is your work history. Stable employment is a good sign for banks that you are ready to take on the responsibility of a mortgage. And that your income is likely to maintain at the same level or higher in the next several years.
This applies both to people who changed jobs without an unemployment delay and those who remain in the same job for two or more years.
3.You Don’t See Any Big Changes in the Future
Another interesting sign that your life is ready for home ownership is clear sailing ahead. If you’ve got a big promotion or an uncertain future, now may not be the right time to buy. If there’s a good chance you might get transferred to a different office or experience income uncertainty, it may be better to keep your household and finances flexible.
But if you see no big changes in the next several years ahead of you other than matter-of-course promotions, then you’re in a great spot to invest in a house.
4.You’re Ready to Settle Down and Get Serious
And then, of course, there’s your own preferred lifestyle. Homeownership requires a certain amount of responsibility and seriousness. You have to be ready to make life-altering financial decisions, be 100% sure on the house you buy, and commit fully to repaying the mortgage you take out. If you’re ready to settle down and get serious about your career, family, and building yourself the ideal home haven, then you’re already on the right path to buying a house.
5.You’re Starting a Family Now or Soon
Speaking of settling down, few people are more ready to buy a house than new parents who are looking for a family home. Whether you already have kids or are still planning for your first baby, the desire to start and build a family goes hand-in-hand with homeownership.
6.You Know Exactly Where You Want to Live – For At Least 5 Years
Another sign that you’re ready for a house is enjoying the region you live in. If you’re constantly browsing for jobs in a warmer state or the allergies in your current location make you miserable, chances are you don’t want a permanent house in the area. But many of us already know the region we ultimately want to live in. Whether that’s crisp mountain forests or trendy coastal suburbs is entirely up to your preferred climate and lifestyle. Just be sure to buy a house somewhere you enjoy living and working. Right now, much of the South Florida is blooming with new real estate. If you’re looking to make the move and purchase a new home, now is probably the best time.
7.Your Credit is in Good Shape
After your down payment and income, your most important financial detail is your credit score. Credit scores above 640 are more likely to be accepted by mortgage lenders. Scores as low as 580 may be eligible for an FHA loan.
You also want to have a low debt-to-income ratio. This means that less debt is better. You can improve your credit score and your ratio debt-to-income ratio by paying off or resolving debts and fully paying your credit cards on a regular basis.
8.You’re Ready to Take On Homeowner Duties
Owning your own home is an interesting balance of freedom and responsibility. On one hand, you never have to answer to a landlord ever again. On the other, you will be picking up many of the duties that landlords used to take care of. Like cleaning the gutters and changing the HVAC air filter at least once a year.
Buying a new construction house will make your first-time homeowner duties a lot easier, because there will be almost nothing to maintain. Not to mention the builder and manufacturer warranties. But in the next few decades of happy homeownership, you’ll want a multi-year maintenance schedule to make sure everything from the foundation to the roof is inspected regularly and stays in top condition.
9.You Can Afford to Pay Mortgage + Expenses
You also need to make sure that your personal monthly budget can handle the expenses of buying a new house. You may be delighted to see that mortgage payments are less or equal to your current rent payments. But mortgage isn’t all of your monthly expenses. You’ll also need to buy and pay for homeowner’s insurance and pay monthly property taxes. So be aware, and get your financial ducks in a row before committing just based on mortgage payments and make sure you can afford to make the monthly payments.
10.You Know What Kind of House You Want
Finally, you should have an idea of the kind of house you want. Or at least your preferences versus deal-breakers if you’re not in love with a particular style of construction. Maybe you really want some place that feels cozy, or trendy and sleek. Somewhere that reminds you of the house you grew up in, or a dream house you’ve been imagining for years. Whatever you want in your first home, look for how to achieve it within your price range and somewhere in that range will be the perfect house for you.
Being prepared to buy your first home is both a personal and financial experience. You want to have both your life and your savings accounts lined up and ready to take on this huge and incredibly rewarding new investment. A home of your own is something to be immensely proud of. And if you’re ready, that next step in your life could be right around the corner.