Apartment rents continue to rise across the county and several studies say that it's more affordable to own a home than it is to rent right now. If you're renting, you might be feeling that in your own budget—and you're tired of hearing the family above you thump around at 5 every morning.
There's no doubt in your mind: You're ready to buy a home.
But to do so, you also have to take out a mortgage loan. And maybe you're not sure you're ready for the financial responsibility of making those mortgage payments each month.
This isn't an unusual feeling. Plenty of first-time homebuyers worry that they'll struggle to make that mortgage payment each month. But the truth is, you're probably better prepared for a home loan than you think.Don't believe us? Take this four-question quiz on your financial habits. You might be surprised at how ready you really are for a mortgage.
1. How often do you pay late when it comes to credit-card bills, car payments and your student loans? If your answer is "never," that's great news. If you're already in the habit of making your monthly payments on time, there's no reason to believe that you'll suddenly stop doing so just because you've added a mortgage payment to the mix.
2. Have you created a household budget and do you follow it? If the answer to both of these questions is "yes," this is another positive. With a household budget, you know how much you earn each month and exactly how much you spend. You can now easily determine how much you can afford to allocate each month for a mortgage payment. The biggest mistake people make when buying a home is spending too much. They are then left with a monthly mortgage payment that they struggle to afford. If you are already following a budget, then you're less likely to take on a mortgage that will bust it.
3. Have you saved much money? Again, you want the answer to this question to be "yes." You need to have extra funds saved when you're ready to buy a home. Your mortgage lender will probably want to see that you have at least two months' worth of mortgage payments saved. This way, if you do run into a financial crisis for one month, you can tap into your savings to meet your monthly home loan payment. In reality, though, you'll need more than just these two months of funds saved up. Remember, you'll need money for a down payment and to cover the closing/settlement costs along with an emergency fund for repairs. So the more money you have saved before you start hunting for houses, the better.
4. Do you have a strong FICO credit score? If you don't know the answer to this question, it's time to find out. You can order your three-digit FICO credit score from either of the three national credit bureaus of Equifax, Experian or TransUnion, a purchase that will cost you about $15. Your credit-card provider or bank might also provide your credit score for free each month on a statement, but make sure that this score is actually your FICO credit score, the one that matters to lenders. Lenders consider a FICO score of 740 or higher to be excellent. A FICO score of under 640 may make it difficult to qualify for a mortgage and you'll likely pay higher interest rates. But if you find out that your score is a high one? That, again, is a sign that you are ready for a mortgage loan.
If you've answered "yes" to these four questions, you're definitely ready to buy a home. Congratulations! Be sure to contact us to talk about what mortgage programs are available and how much home you can afford.
If you weren't able to answer "yes" to all the questions, don't despair. Work on the elements you answered "no" to and give us a call to see exactly where you stand in terms of qualifying for a home loan. We're here to help you reach your real estate goals!