Louise Lingerman's Blog
Home prices may vary greatly throughout the country. But, buying a home is most likely the largest purchase you will make in your life.
Deciding just how much to spend on your home isn’t just a matter of numbers--it also depends on your lifestyle and long-term goals.
In today’s post, I’m going to give you a few ways you can help determine how much is a safe amount to spend on your home so that you’ll feel confident moving into the home buying process that you’re making the best decision for you and your family.
Mortgage as a percent of your income
Like most large purchases, buying a home typically isn’t dependent on the amount you have in the bank. Rather, it depends on several factors including your income, credit score, and the type of lifestyle you want to maintain.
One of the simplest ways to determine how much house you can afford is to figure out what percent of your monthly income your mortgage and insurance will be.
For most homeowners, a mortgage payment that is 25% of their income or less is ideal. So, if you earn $6,000 per month, you don’t want your monthly mortgage payment to exceed $1,500.
This “25% rule” does have one flaw, however, and that does not--and cannot--account for each individual’s financial circumstances.
Let’s say, for example, that you earn $6,000 per month, but that you have a large monthly car payment and are trying to aggressively pay off your student loans. You might find that paying another $1,500 toward a mortgage on top of your current bills is bringing you over budget, especially when combined with your other monthly expenses and retirement contributions.
Plan for homeowner expenses
Another caveat to determining how much to spend on a home is that the home itself will require a budget for maintenance. When renting an apartment, repairs are mostly the responsibility of the landlord or property manager.
Homeownership, on the other hand, requires you to make the repairs yourself or hire a professional. And, if you neglect these repairs, you might find that they cost you even more in the long run or drive down the value of your home.
Create a comprehensive budget
Throughout a given person’s life, they’ll experience raises, promotions, layoffs, medical expenses, childcare costs, and any other number of financial changes. While it isn’t possible to foresee all of the financial fluctuations you’ll experience in life, it is always helpful to have a comprehensive budget.
What do I mean by “comprehensive budget”? The goal of a good budget is to know where each dollar of your income is currently going and to have a plan for each cent that you make. This is a proactive approach to budgeting that will give you an exact number for the amount you can afford when it comes to a mortgage payment.
Within your budget, it’s vital to account for things like an emergency fund, retirement, savings for vacations, and so on.
If you take this due diligence, not only will you have a better sense of where your money goes, but you’ll also be confident in knowing exactly how much you can spend on a home.
Let's face it – purchasing your dream home may prove to be an uphill climb, particularly for a homebuyer who fails to prepare accordingly. Lucky for you, we're here to help you make your homeownership dream a reality and ensure you can discover your ideal residence in no time at all.
Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you get ready to pursue your dream house.
1. Establish Homebuying Criteria
Finding your ideal house can be quick and easy if you establish homebuying criteria before you launch a home search. In fact, with homebuying criteria in hand, you can narrow your house search and speed up the homebuying journey.
To create homebuying criteria, you first should think about cities and towns where you want to live. Next, analyze houses in your preferred cities and towns and consider home must-haves and wants. Once you know exactly what you want to find in your dream house and where you want to reside, you can schedule home showings and move closer to finding your ideal house.
2. Get Pre-Approved for Home Financing
Homebuyers rarely have all the money they need to buy a home. Thankfully, banks and credit unions offer a wide range of mortgage options to make it simple for homebuyers to purchase residences. And if you meet with banks and credit unions, you can review your mortgage options and get pre-approved for home financing.
Obtaining a mortgage may help you streamline your house search because it enables you to establish a homebuying budget that you can use to hone your quest to find your dream home. Perhaps best of all, getting pre-approved for a mortgage may help you resist the temptation to spend beyond your means to purchase your ideal residence.
3. Hire a Real Estate Agent
Navigating the housing market on your own can be challenging for first-time and experienced homebuyers alike. Fortunately, real estate agents are available who can help you take the guesswork out of pursuing your dream house.
A real estate agent is a housing market expert who understands what it takes to complete a successful home search. He or she will meet with you, analyze your homebuying goals and map out a homebuying strategy. Then, a real estate agent will work with you to help make your homeownership dream come true.
As you conduct your home search, a real estate agent will keep you up to date about new residences that become available in your preferred cities and towns. He or she also will set up house showings and offer insights into the local real estate market. Furthermore, if you find your dream house, a real estate agent will help you craft a competitive offer to purchase this residence. And if your homebuying proposal ultimately is accepted, a real estate agent will guide you through the final stages of the homebuying process.
Start your search for your dream house – use the aforementioned tips, and you can boost the likelihood of a successful homebuying journey.
Many house hunters are so focused on finding the ideal house, yard, and neighborhood, that they sometimes sacrifice one of their main objectives: a short commute to work.
At first, a long drive to the office may seem like a small price to pay for finding your ideal house, but your outlook might change when the tedium of commuter gridlock becomes a daily burden.
Fortunately, there are ways to ease the stress of being stuck in rush-hour traffic twice a day.
Car pooling: By sharing driving responsibilities with one or two other people, you can reduce the overall stress of your trip to the office. You can also save money on gas, highway tolls, and parking fees. Assuming you find carpooling companions whose company you enjoy, time will pass a lot faster. Then, of course, there's the advantage of less wear and tear on your car. Although carpooling may not be as idyllic as living 15 or 20 minutes from work, it can be an effective way to ease the burden of back-and-forth driving.
Telecommuting: As technology advances and more and more people are adapting to it, the option of working from home is becoming increasingly popular. When you consider the many options there are for document sharing and communicating remotely, you may have a strong case for proposing a work-from-home arrangement with your employer. Even though it may be necessary to meet face-to-face with coworkers, colleagues, and clients a few days a week, the ability to split your work time between home and office can save you time, money, and aggravation. As long as you can maintain your productivity working from home, it may turn out to be a life-changing arrangement! Granted, it doesn't work for everyone, but it may be well worth looking into -- at least on a part-time basis.
Public Transportation: If you happen to live close to a train station, then public transportation might be the perfect solution to an otherwise long, tedious drive into the city. Instead of concentrating on road signs and traffic conditions, you can read a book, listen to your favorite music, or prepare for a meeting or presentation. You can also check your email, get a head start on your work day, or even sneak in a few minutes of sleep or meditation.
While the best option for many people is to buy a home that's within 30 minutes of their job or business, that may be difficult to accomplish for couples working in different locations. Long commutes can infringe on important aspects of your life, though, including family time, relaxation time, and being able to get things done around the house. Not having enough time to "recharge your battery," every day, can eventually take its toll on your health, your relationships, and your outlook on life. If finding a house close to work is not panning out, then alternatives like telecommuting, carpooling, and public transportation may be, at least, a partial solution.
Before you list your residence, you'll want to consider your home selling price closely. By doing so, you can improve your chances of generating significant interest in your home without sacrificing any potential profits.
Ultimately, finding the best home selling price can be quick and easy – here are three tips to help you do just that.
1. Perform a Real Estate Market Analysis
Evaluate how your house stacks up against the competition by performing a real estate market analysis. This will enable you to collect a broad assortment of housing market data and set an aggressive price for your house based on the current real estate sector's conditions.
As part of a real estate market analysis, take a look at the prices of local houses that are similar to your own. This will help you establish a price range for residences in your city or town.
Also, check out the prices of recently sold homes in your region. This housing market information will help you differentiate between a buyer's market and a seller's market and ensure you can price your residence appropriately.
2. Get Your Home Appraised
A home appraisal offers many benefits for a home seller that extend beyond establishing the best home selling price.
During a home appraisal, a property inspector will examine a residence both inside and out. Then, he or she will offer an inspection report that outlines a house's strengths and weaknesses as well as the present value of a house.
When it comes to figuring out the best home selling price, a home appraisal is ideal. This appraisal will make it easy for you to establish a competitive price for your home from the get-go. Plus, it may help you uncover innovative ways to improve the condition of your house before you add your residence to the real estate market.
3. Consult with a Real Estate Agent
Although a home seller may conduct a comprehensive real estate market analysis and receive a home appraisal as he or she evaluates the best home selling price, nothing beats working with a real estate agent. In fact, a real estate agent is happy to provide expert home selling assistance and ensure that you can get the best results possible at each stage of the home selling journey.
A real estate agent will learn about your home selling goals and help you map out the home selling journey accordingly.
For example, if you're in a hurry to sell your house, a real estate agent can help you set an aggressive price that results in a quick home sale. On the other hand, if you're dedicated to maximizing the value for your residence, a real estate agent will make it simple to optimize your home selling profit.
With a real estate agent at your side, establishing the best home selling price should be no trouble at all. This housing market professional will go above and beyond the call of duty to support your home selling goals and guarantee that you can enjoy a seamless home selling experience.