For many consumers, the American Dream still includes buying a house. The reality for most people is that a home is too expensive to pay for entirely with cash. As a result, it is necessary to borrow in order to buy a house. That means a mortgage.
Buying a home with a mortgage represents a big commitment. You need to be ready to repay the loan (with interest) and deal with the other responsibilities that come with homeownership. Before you commit to buying a home, make sure that you are ready. Here are 4 signs that you’re ready to buy a home:
1. You Have a Steady Income
Because your mortgage is a big commitment, you need to know that you will be able to make the monthly payment. It helps to have a steady income before you decide to buy. Make sure that you have job security in your household before you take the plunge. That way, you know that you will be likely to pay on time.
2. You Want to Put Down Roots
It’s possible to put down roots in a community as a renter. However, it’s vital that you have a vested interest in putting down roots in a community before you buy a home. Home ownership involves getting along with your neighbors, since it’s much harder to just leave if things are working out. Be prepared to be involved before you buy.
3. You Aren’t Overwhelmed by Consumer Debt
You don’t want to have a lot of consumer debt when you buy a home. Since a mortgage is such a huge commitment, you need to know that your ability to pay isn’t going to be compromised by a large amount of consumer debt. Some lenders use the 28/36 qualifying ratio, and this is a good rule of thumb for you as well. Basically, this rule says that your mortgage payment should be no more than 28 percent of your monthly income, and that your total debt payments -- including your new mortgage payment -- shouldn’t exceed 36 percent of your income. If you meet this requirement, you can be fairly confident that you can afford a home.
4. You Have Money for a Down Payment
If you have been saving up for a down payment, that is usually a sign that you have thought carefully about buying a home, and that you have made preparations to be a responsible home owner. The old rule of thumb is that you should save up 20 percent for the down payment. This is ideal, since it helps you avoid mortgage insurance.
However, even saving up 5 percent or 10 percent is an indication that you are at least working toward the goal with a certain degree of seriousness.