Looking for and purchasing a home can be an exciting time in a person’s life. It may be a new chapter opening up, a chance for change and also an opportunity for investment.
If you are looking to move, you may ask yourself, “Should I rent or buy a house?” While renting has its perks, home ownership is a great long term investment.
There are many things to consider during this long and nuanced process.
What you can afford and your debt-to-income ratio are the biggest factors when it comes to buying a house.
You’ll want to know from the start just how much house you can afford.
Your debt-to-income ratio will be carefully considered by a potential lender for mortgage, and can dictate the price range you’ll be looking for.
The Federal Housing Administration looks at 43 percent as a good debt-to-income ratio. This means that all housing related expenses monthly should not exceed 43 percent of your monthly income.
Location, Location, Location
You most likely have an ideal area you’d like to live in for reasons that might include being close to work or school, a low cost of living, or an ample amount of things to do.
After making those determinations, take a deeper dive into the neighborhood you’re eyeing. What is walkability like? Is there easy access to places like grocery stores, restaurants, and car repair shops?
Look at news articles from the area to get a sense of what the town is like. This can give you insight into crime, community involvement, and economic health of the area.
Also stop and listen – what is the noise level like in the neighborhood? Is there construction or a playground nearby that might hinder a quiet atmosphere?
Condition of the Home
It may seem obvious, but sometimes sheer excitement over the potential of buying a house can blind you to the condition the house is actually in.
Though an inspection will point out any major flaws, keep an eye out for red flags before you even get to that point.
Take a close look at the siding and roof of the home. Is it cracked, peeling, or in need of major repair? Roofs can be expensive, and one that needs work can be used as a negotiating point during the buying process.
Make sure all windows and doors latch properly and that lighting, heating, plumbing, and major appliances work well.
Take note as well of any odd smells in the house that could be indicative of things like mold.
One thing not considered as often is the seller’s reason for selling the home.
Sometimes people are simply ready to move on from a place, or need to relocate for personal or work reasons.
Try to determine why the seller is leaving, and be sure it’s not for a reason that can also hinder your experience living on the property, such as something faulty on the property or grievances with the neighborhood itself.