Do Some Thorough Number Crunching
Do you want to end up being one of those people complaining about their mortgage and other home costs bleeding them dry every month? Probably not, so it is highly advisable to do some serious number crunching to determine not only what you can truly afford, but how much you want to spend on your home. Many people find out too late that those two numbers are not one in the same.
It is easy to get carried away with wanting the biggest, nicest house you can afford. You get pre-approved for a certain amount of money and intend to spend every last dime of it. Then, after a few months, the reality of this financial commitment sets in, and the regrets along with it.
For at least a few months, track all of your spending to see where your money is going. Bank away what a mortgage payment would be along with your rent to see the true impact of being responsible for that much more money each month. Think about your other financial goals like savings accounts and retirement contributions. Don’t forget you want to have a life. Think twice before you tell yourself you’ll be okay giving up your twice yearly vacations for a bigger house.
Shop carefully for home loans—with such a large purchase, even small differences in interest rates can add up to big sums of money when talking about loans that last decades. If your credit could be better, clean it up first before rushing into the home-buying process.
Define Your Ideal Home
This is an important exercise that is easy to overlook, or give less attention than it deserves. Buying a home can feel like an overwhelming process. This is the biggest purchase you will ever make, and while there is always the possibility it will just be the first in a string of several, you don’t want to go into it with the attitude of ‘We can always just move.’
So, give some serious thought to what defines your ideal home. What are the things it must have without question? What are the things that would be nice, but are not absolutely necessary? What are the deal-breakers? If you are buying a home with someone else, you should formulate your lists separately and then compare notes.
While it is possible modifications will be made as you search, much of what you determine will probably stand, and will help you more effectively narrow down your search and make your decision. You will be less likely to do things like buying a home that will end up doubling your commute time because it had a cute fireplace.
Don’t Pass Up on a Great House Looking in Hopes of Finding an Even Better One
This purchase is a really big deal, and naturally you want to see what is out there before committing to just one. But, with that being said, it is important to know the difference between evaluating your options, and passing up on houses that are pretty much perfect for you in hopes you will find something even more perfect. It is kind of like when we go shopping and find a great pair or shoes or a dress in the first store, and even though we love it, we feel like we should keep looking just in case we see something even better. And, we all know what usually ends up happening—after a few hours, we go right back to where we started. But, when you are talking about house shopping for a period of weeks or months, there is a good chance that great house won’t be available anymore.