Owning a home is a big responsibility but also an exciting endeavor. So when you find that house, how do you know you’re ready to buy that house? Here are eight signs to help you know if it’s a dream or a reality.
1) You’ve got your financial act together. Clean credit report, check. Little or no debt, check. And, there are other ways your financial house should be in order before you can make your move. Do you make enough money or have income from other sources that make the house affordable? Do you have funds for the downpayment and closing fees? It all adds up. Can you cover it?
2) You’re ready to settle down for a while. Before you tour the house that’s caught your eye, or begin to shop because you’ve caught the home buying bug, dig in for some self-awareness time and be sure you really are ready to stay put. Because you’ll most likely need to be there for at least 3-5 years, if you become a homeowner, to get any return on investment. So, if you’ve been at your job for 24 months, have made a commitment to where you are, don’t anticipate any major life changes, etc., you could be ready to settle in and settle down. For a while, anyway.
3) You’re prepared to be chill about unexpected expenses. Property taxes, HOA, city assessments, water, sewer, trash, electricity, natural gas and cable could make your house payments higher than you calculated. Will you freak out or rest easy in knowing you can cover it? And those trips to big box stores when you move in and realize you don’t have a rake, shelf organizers or window coverings can add up. If you’re ready for that, you could be ready to buy that house.
4) You won’t become a helpless homeowner. You know how to fix a leak. The kind from a faucet, or toilet. Or you at least can follow a DIY on YouTube with some degree of competency. Also, you can decipher a trash pick up schedule, will clean out your gutters and have shook hands, or are willing to shake hands, with a lawnmower, or someone you can hire to do the lawnmowing. It’s the little things that mean a lot.
5) You have savings. Not just for the downpayment and closing costs, but a regular savings and emergency fund. In all seriousness, it’s critical you have funds beyond just getting in the house and paying for moving and move-in expenses. Should something life-changing happen—an accident, an illness, family emergency, etc.—having a savings and emergency fund could close the gap between you and an unpleasant financial situation.
6) You can reach other goals and still own a house. Think if you get that house you’ll be content forever, simply hanging out there and nowhere else? Think again. Just like anything else, the new will wear off, and you’ll want to travel, finally get that new bike or boat, go back to school, or whatever. And the reality is, most “whatevers” cost money. So as you may have been told, don’t make yourself “house poor.” You won’t be happy with that.
7) You know what you want and where you want it. If you’ve already spotted that dream home, that’s great, as long as it really is what you want, where you want it, and affordable. But if you are starting to shop, looking at images on your laptop is just the tip of the iceberg. Spend some time driving around neighborhoods, timing your morning commute from your target area, checking out schools and other things important to your lifestyle. This helps your Realtor® a ton, and can cut down on the wear and tear as you begin your quest.
8) Your happiness doesn’t hinge on being a homeowner. Sure, you’ll have more freedom to make it your own, and a yard can be the setting for numerous enjoyable get togethers, but a house can also be a source of frustration from time to time. If you’ve been heard to say, “When I get my own home, then I’ll be happy,” slow down and put some thought into what really makes you happy. Yes. Moving into your own home, whether it’s your first or fifth, is hopefully one of the happiest days ever. Just remember, it’s the heart you put into it, and not the house itself, that will make you a happy homeowner.