How Do I Know When I’m Ready to Buy a Home?

For many people, buying a home — especially a first home — is a stress-inducing endeavor. It’s common to worry about whether you’re actually making the right decisions. While no one can tell you which home is right for you, it’s surprisingly simple to figure out whether homeownership is right for you. Chances are, if you can, it’s a good idea.

The most important factor is whether or not you can afford it. Most homebuyers don’t have the money to pay cash for a home, which means you’re probably going to get a loan. That requires two things: a down payment and a high enough credit score. While it’s possible to qualify for a loan with a down payment as low as 3.5%, it’s probably not a sound financial choice. Higher down payments translate to lower mortgage interest rates, and they are also more appealing to sellers. Qualifying for a loan also requires a minimum credit score, as determined by individual lenders. If your credit score is low, it may be difficult to find a lender who will give you a loan.

There is one scenario in which buying may not be the correct plan, even if you can afford it. While renting is certainly more expensive than buying in the long term, and less stable, it could still be cheaper if you don’t plan to stay in one place for long. If you get transferred frequently for your job, it may be better to stick to renting.

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