Buying a home is one of the most pivotal milestones of your life. As such, it comes along with a host of emotions — from excitement to apprehension.
There’s a good reason to be excited about buying a home. However, if you’re not prepared, there’s also a good reason to be apprehensive. Homeownership comes with a wide array of financial and personal responsibilities. That’s why there are so many requirements you have to meet before you buy.
While the best way to tell if you’re ready or not is to work closely with a local real estate agent, there are several requirements that you’ll almost always have to meet. Here are seven of them.
You Have Enough for a Down Payment
No matter how much you prepare for homeownership, that initial down payment can come as a shock. For most traditional loans, you’ll be required to pay a down payment of around 20%. Some loans require up to 30% down.
If you qualify for a USDA Rural Home Loan or a VA Loan, you might not have to pay a down payment at all since those both come with “no down payment” options. However, for most people, a down payment will be required. It’s important that you can comfortably afford your down payment.
There are many ways to save for a down payment, so find one that works for you and make sure you have enough.
Your Credit Score is High Enough
For most home loans, you’ll need to meet a credit score requirement of at least 620 before you can be approved for a loan. Some lenders require a score of 640. However, lenders will also take into consideration your credit history, which can work in your favor.
Some people who have less-than-favorable credit scores can still get approved for a loan in certain situations. The main thing lenders are looking for is stable, consistent income and financial responsibility.
If your credit score was knocked down because of a major medical emergency and you’ve been consistently working your way back over the last two years, the number alone might not hurt you. However, it’s best to work towards improving your credit score so you have a better chance at a loan.
You Have Steady Employment
Another indicator of financial responsibility and stability is a steady employment history. For this reason, most lenders look for an employment history of at least two years at the same company. Most people won’t have a problem meeting this requirement, but there are some unique situations that can be tricky.
For instance, if you’re self-employed or you do freelance work for a living, you might have a hard time proving that employment history since your employer is you. However, in these situations, you can typically provide proof of income for the last few years to show that you’re earning a stable income.
You’re Financially Stable
It’s important to take a hard look at where you spend money, how you spend it, how well you save, and what you have set aside. Homeownership requires you to be ready for unexpected expenses. You also have to be sure you can afford your mortgage.
Most experts agree that you should have at least 1% of the total cost of your home set aside in savings each year for home maintenance expenses. Make sure you’re financially stable enough to be prepared when the inevitable repair or maintenance expense comes up.
You’re Not Moving Soon
You’ve probably heard that buying costs less in the long run than renting — and that’s true. Unless you move within three years.
If you’re not entirely sure you’ll be living in the same location for at least three years, homeownership might not be the best option for you. It’s better to wait until you know you’ve settled on a location long-term before investing in a home. Doing so can save you a lot of time and money.
You Can Solve Common Household Problems
If your roof needs fixing or your plumbing blows, you’ll obviously need to call a professional. But if you call someone to fix every leak and loose screw in the house, you’ll wind up spending way more than is necessary for home maintenance.
That’s why it’s important to be able to fix some of the basic home maintenance issues on your own. If you don’t know how to fix a small leak or caulk a hole, you might want to learn before you buy a house.
You Know What You Want
If you buy a pair of jeans you don’t like, you’re not out much. But if you purchase a home and quickly find out that it doesn’t meet your needs, it can cost you a lot more than an inconvenience.
That’s why it’s so critical to know what you want before you purchase a home. Narrowing down your “must haves” and “deal-breakers” can be difficult, but it’s important to know what you need in your home. Knowing what you want before you settle on a home can help you make sure your home will meet your needs for years to come.
Purchasing a home is exciting, but it’s also one of the most important purchases you’ll ever make. Making sure you’re ready for homeownership is a critical step of the journey.
It’s important to work with an experienced real estate agent as they can provide you with guidance and expertise throughout the process. They can even help you find home rebates and other benefits you didn’t even know existed. Having a partner through the home buying process can help you make sure you’re prepared for the purchase when you find your dream home.