Whether you’re currently in the process of buying a home or thinking about it for the future, this will be a very major commitment in your life and there are some key things to consider before making that purchase.
Here are some important questions you should ask yourself:
Am I likely to want to own it long term?
The most important thing to ask yourself before buying any property is whether you are likely to own it for a long time, such as 5 years or more. People buy property in hopes of increasing wealth and five years is about the break-even point for earning appreciation in value above the buying and selling transaction costs. Considering the uncertainty of the short term direction of homes values, if you don’t plan on holding the property for “at least” 3 years and you aren’t purchasing it to become a rental property, it probably isn’t worth considering. Buying and selling a home quickly will often leave you worse off financially than if you just held off on becoming a homeowner and rented instead.
Do I truly love the home I want to buy?
It’s extremely important to consider whether you truly love the property you’re considering. Real Estate should typically be held for the long term and your enjoyment of a property should perpetuate a happy and enduring ownership period. So don’t buy a property on impulse. Make sure that you truly do love it. Don’t buy a home just for the “sake” of “buying” because you’re envious of others who own a home or others who tell you it’s a good idea. Buy what you want and after careful consideration, when you are truly ready, buy a home that you will feel proud to own for many years to come.
Can I really afford it?
The cost of owning/maintaining a home is typically more than anyone anticipates going into it. You should to make sure that you’re comfortable with the mortgage payments, even if your lender tells you that you qualify for the given loan and purchase price. Lenders don’t take into account many day-today expenses like health care, child care, expensive lifestyles and habits, etc. Make sure that you can comfortably afford your home payments, still pay your other bills and expenses, and also still have a little left to save for retirement. Also, if you’re unsure of your long term employment situation for any reason, wait until your job situation is stable.
Is the home in good condition?
Be aware that fixer homes often don’t sell at enough of a discount to compensate for all the work that needs to be done. The cost of good quality construction and rehabilitation work can be astronomical and unless you are yourself a contractor, it typically will cost much more than you anticipate. You might want to leave the “needs TLC” or “fixer-uppers” property listings for the contractors out there and instead buy something in at least “Average” and “Livable” condition in order to avoid getting swept up in a disastrous rehab project.
How much do you know about the neighborhood?
Make sure that you do adequate research, look at enough properties, get a feel for the neighborhoods, and learn about property ownership with your Realtor before you made an offer. If you recently moved into town or don’t know the particular area, it might be a good idea to rent for a while and seek out the community that would be the most perfect for you within your financial means. This will be the biggest investment you ever make. You need to educate yourself in order to minimize the risk of the investment going wrong.
While there‘s no such thing as “risk-free” real estate, it would be wise to consider the questions above. Careful consideration of these key questions will increase your chances of experiencing a joyous, long-term property ownership experience.
George Sudol is the Broker/Owner of Bay Area Realty Services, a successful San Francisco Bay Area residential Real Estate firm. He also owns and operates Bay Area Mortgage Alliance, a California residential mortgage lending brokerage. See more at www.ba-realtyservices.com , Email firstname.lastname@example.org, or Call 650-242-4079
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