5 questions to consider before closing on a new house
Completing a marathon is a great goal, but doing it without training is dangerous. Homeownership is similar. Buying your own home is a huge financial milestone, but crossing that finish line before you’re really ready can cause heartache. These soul-searching questions will help determine if you’re ready to spend that extra money.
What is my debt-to-income ratio?
Your debt-to-income ratio is your monthly bills divided by your income before taxes. With the mortgage payment included in the debt, most lenders want to see a debt-to-income ratio of 33% or less. Some companies will lend with a ratio of up to 43%, but a higher ratio means frugal living.
Will I be house poor?
The debt-to-income ratio is important to the bank, but you know your spending habits. Tally up your monthly expenses. If you had to pay a mortgage payment this month, could your income cover all of your bills as well as your incidental spending? Is home ownership worth sacrificing “extras”?
Is the house I’m buying worth the investment?
Is it reasonable to believe that you can resell your prospective home for the purchase price? If the only homes you can currently afford are so undesirable that you can’t answer that question with a yes, you may need to delay homeownership. Don’t get stuck with a bad investment.
Do I have a stable source of income?
Unless you’re paying cash, homeownership means you’ll be responsible for paying a mortgage for decades to come. While there are no guarantees in life, you need to be reasonably sure that you’ll be able to make enough money to pay for your home over the long term.
Have I saved consistently for the past year?
You’re still responsible for paying a mortgage if you lose your job, and homeownership also means that you’ll have to pay for any home maintenance or repairs. Do you have enough savings to replace a water heater? Saving should be a comfortable, established habit if you’re purchasing a home.