Buying a home can be a stressful and expensive experience. Home hunting, closing a deal, and moving in can take a lot out of you. When we were first thinking of buying a house, I started to make lists of things we would need to pay attention to. I knew we were going to need a mortgage and that homes come with extra expenses as well. Here are a few financial tips to keep in mind before you buy a house.
If you will need a mortgage, your credit report will be one of the most important things for you to know about before buying a home. I would highly suggest checking your credit report before you even apply for loan preapproval. You can check each of the main credit reports – Transunion, Experian, and Equifax – for free once a year at AnnualCreditReport.com. I personally check each one of my main reports every 4 months just to make sure nothing hinky pops up.
Tighten Your Budget
I would also highly suggest tightening your budget when you start thinking about buying a house. The mortgage payment will not be the only extra expense that you will have to handle. You will also want to remember the annual cost for home owner’s insurance, property taxes, and any homeowner’s association fees that you will have to cover. Even if they are all paid annually, I bet they will be easier to pay if you save for them year round.
Plan for the Unexpected
Owning a house is a constant test of patience. Things break, maintenance must be done, and the unexpected will take a huge bite out of your normal budget. Before you buy a house, make sure you will be able to budget in a small emergency fund for your house. Try planning for at least one big expense each year.
My husband and I feel comfortable with a $10,000 home maintenance emergency fund. We socked away $500 a month until we hit that amount and then redirected that $500 towards general savings. Anytime we have to use the home account, we simply start adding back in $500 a month until it returns to our $10,000 goal. I like the fact that I never have to worry whether we can handle something small like a toilet leak or something big like a new air conditioning unit.
Research Property with Resale Value
Before you buy a house, you will probably look at dozens or hundreds of properties online. Unless you think you are buying your forever home, keep in mind resale value as you look. Even if you don’t have kids, potential buyers in the future might, so buying a house in a really bad school district may not be the best idea. I’d also look into crime statistics and the details of whatever homeowner’s associations you may have to deal with.
My husband and I got lucky and bought our home in a good school district with less crime than other Houston suburbs. We also ended up with no homeowner’s association fees since our neighborhood was permanently incomplete. This has worked out well since we have good neighbors, but we did not research any of these things in advance and it could have turned out very differently.