5 Questions to Ask Before Buying a Home

This article was developed as part of Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union’s partnership with EVERFI, Inc.

Buying a home can be an exciting milestone in your life, and it’s important to educate yourself on the financial implications of homeownership before you make an offer. Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer or a current owner looking to sell or refinance, there are a few key questions that should help guide your decision:

1. What are the pros and cons of owning vs. renting?

Owning a home is a long-term commitment. Recent studies show that the average buyer expects to live in their new home for 13 years before selling. While homeownership allows you to build equity and take advantage of tax benefits, owning also comes with risks.

Educate yourself on the costs and benefits of owning a home before you make an offer. If you’re struggling with the decision of renting vs. buying, check out The Money Mill article that takes you through the pros and cons of each.

2. Am I ready for the responsibilities of homeownership?

While property is generally considered an appreciating asset, home values are tied to economic conditions. Having your financial life in order is an important first step to buying a house. Are you confident in your ability to pay your bills on time? Are you able to budget for unanticipated costs?

Evaluate questions like these to determine whether you are ready for the responsibilities of homeownership.

3. How much home can I afford?

Determining how much home you can actually afford goes beyond the list price of a property. Other factors that will affect your monthly payment include interest rates, taxes, insurance, income, debt, and future monthly expenses – to name just a few. While there are numerous “affordability” calculators out there, it’s important to first understand the whole picture.

Before you buy, take action to determine how much home you can afford. A good idea is to make a budget with your housing costs added in. This will allow you to really understand how manageable or unmanageable your finances will be once you own a home.

4. How will lenders evaluate my mortgage readiness & make loan decisions?

Are you familiar with the “Four C’s of Loan Credit?” Lenders look at a number of factors to determine the terms of a mortgage loan, including your capacity (or ability) to pay the mortgage, your current capital, collateral, and your credit.

Review your financial history and educate yourself on the qualifications that lenders use to determine the terms of your loan.

5. How will my credit score impact my ability to buy?

Your credit score and the information in your credit report are key factors in whether or not you’ll be approved for a mortgage and at what interest rate. When was the last time you checked your credit?

Learn more about your credit, as well as steps you can take to build strong credit.

No matter what stage of homeownership you are exploring, expanding your knowledge about the key financial questions to ask when buying a home will help you make a long-term decision that benefits you.

Subscribe to The Money Mill and get a link to our free online financial wellness program that includes interactive modules specific to mortgages and homeownership. This program will walk you through the home buying journey and provide you with valuable information you need along the way. Subscription to The Money Mill is free and you will not receive any junk email.

Check out more articles about home buying and homeownership. 

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