When you’ve got homeownership on your mind, waiting can make you restless. If your apartment is bursting at the seams and you’re looking to put down roots in a larger space, it might be time to buy your first home.
But buying shouldn’t be considered without first determining if you’re truly ready for the responsibilities, both financial and otherwise, of owning.
There are a handful of costs associated with closing on a house that aren’t always evident from the get-go. That’s why giving yourself some cushion before you even begin to think about finding your perfect home is ideal. If you’re planning on funding all or part of your downpayment, saving up for that is step one. Beyond that, depending on the details of your transaction, you may be responsible for closing costs, such as agent fees and good-faith deposits.
Purchasing a home can involve some extra fees – save up and be prepared for them as they arise.
Know your stuff
When you’re used to living in college housing, your family’s home or a rental property like an apartment, one big change you’ll need to adjust to when transitioning to an owned property is a mortgage. Before you sign on the dotted line, you’ll want to know exactly what this newfound mortgage terminology means. Remember that “fixed-rate” means a loans interest rate remains the same for the life of the loan, while “adjustable-rate” means the loan’s interest rate can vary throughout the life of the loan. (NOTE: SDHDA only offers fixed-rate loans.)
Talk to your lender about terms and rates.
Consider your alternatives
There are a variety of types of homes you can consider when you’re ready to buy. Whether it’s size, neighborhood or building style, there are a lot of variables to consider. One of these might be whether you’re interested in investing in a property such as a condo, townhouse or duplex. For some, this may be a good fit – and can often come with the added bonus of yard and exterior upkeep being off your plate. But remember that these types of scenarios often come with added fees, rules and regulations for owners.
Pick the right fit for you – this is an investment, so consider all your options.
Keep tabs on your credit
Many loans come with standards surrounding your credit score, so if you’re curious if you’ll qualify for a given mortgage program, obtain a free credit report (it’s your right) from any of the three reporting agencies – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. If your score isn’t up to snuff, make an extra effort to pay your bills on time and to only apply for credit that you truly need.
Experian estimates a majority of scores are between 600 and 750 – what’s yours?
No two situations are exactly the same – you know better than anyone what your finances are and how far you can stretch a dollar – but homeownership is an investment in your future, so when you’re ready, don’t be afraid to investigate your options!