Michael Woodrum | DeSoto Real Estate, Festus Real Estate, Hillsboro Real Estate


Many factors come into play when determining whether you can afford to buy a house. Since the monthly rent for an apartment is often close to what a mortgage payment would be, you can't help but wonder if your rent money would be better spent building equity in your own home.

While this is often the case, first-time home buyers often underestimate or overlook expenses that accompany home ownership. Although a mortgage broker or bank loan officer can help you calculate the maximum mortgage you can afford, here are a few tips to keep in mind as you weigh your options.

  • Create a detailed budget. By taking the time to figure out how your income stacks up to your monthly expenses, you can get a clearer picture of your financial situation. If you have a good credit score, a positive monthly cash flow, and enough funds to pay closing costs and a down payment, then home ownership may be a viable option. (Your credit score, which you can obtain once a year for free from the three main credit reporting companies, will have a major impact on both your interest rate and your monthly mortgage payments.)
  • Factor in other expenses: Figuring out your current budget is relatively easy, but predicting your future budget as a homeowner can be a lot more challenging. A big part of the equation will depend on the amount of property taxes and school taxes that will be tacked on to your mortgage costs. A real estate agent can provide you with those figures, as well as other information you need to calculate how affordable it would be to live in a particular house. They have access to a wide range of relevant information, such as utility expenses, water bills, and homeowner association fees (if there are any). Since property taxes sometimes cover the cost of services like garbage and yard waste collection, you may not have to factor in those items into your projected budget. Your real estate agent can help you come up with a rough estimate of home maintenance costs -- especially if they're familiar with the history of the home you're considering buying. As the process moves forward, a property inspector can provide you with more details about the condition of the home and whether any costly repairs are likely to be needed soon.
  • Home maintenance and furnishing costs: Other possible expenses to consider when estimating the cost of home ownership include yard maintenance, landscaping, HVAC service calls, electrician services, plumbing repairs, and homeowners' insurance. If you're a first-time home owner, there's also a good chance you'll need to buy some furniture to fill out those additional rooms!
  • Buying your first home definitely takes a lot of planning, budgeting, and research, but the rewards of owning your own home will more than justify the effort!

    Buying a home is one of the more complicated purchases that you’ll make in your lifetime. It’s not something that you can just open your wallet, pull out a wad of cash and buy. There’s a warm-up period for a house hunt. You need to prepare before you even start the process of the purchase. There’s a lot of different things that you should do to ready yourself to buy a home. You’ll need to organize your finances, find a real estate agent and ready yourself. If you’re looking to buy a home in the near future, it’s time to get busy! 


    Keep Your Credit Score In Check


    Your credit score is so important for so many reasons. The highest your credit score can be is 850 and the lowest it can be is 300. You’ll get a really good interest rate on a home if your credit score is 740 or above. A lower interest rate can save you a lot of money over a year’s time. 

    The good news is that you can spend time repairing your score. This will include paying down debt, asking for credit limits to be raised and correcting errors that may be on your credit report. You want to be sure that you’re using 30% or less of your total available credit. As always, if your bills are paid on time, it will help you to keep that score up. Also, stay away from opening new credit cards, as this can bring your score down due to frequent credit checks. 


    Put Gifts To Good Use


    Whenever you get a financial gift, whether it be for a wedding, a Christmas bonus, or a birthday gift, make sure that you save it for your home purchase. You’ll need quite a bit of capital between closing costs, fees and down payments. You’ll be glad you saved the money once you start the home buying process. You’ll also want to make sure that you have and emergency fund built up. You don’t want to buy a home without some sort of a financial cushion behind you. 


    Research Real Estate Agents 


    Your real estate agent will be your right hand person when it is time to buying a home. You’ll want to know that your agent is knowledgable and can help you in this big decision. Your real estate agent is the person who will help you reach your goals, and you want to feel comfortable with them. Ask for recommendations and do your research.  


    Get Preapproved


    Sellers love buyers who have been preapproved. This shows that they’re reliable and financially able to buy a home. A preapproval can be done a few months in advance of buying a home. It will take an in-depth look at your finances including:


    • Proof of mortgage or rent payments over the last year
    • W2 forms for the past 2 years
    • Paycheck stubs for the past 2 months
    • List of all debts including loans and court settlements
    • List of all assets including car titles, investment accounts and any other real estate you may own.


    Buying a home is a big deal but with the right preparation, you’ll be on the road to success and ready to secure a home purchase.