Moving into your own place can be exciting and frightening at the same time. Marine Bank suggests considering the following questions when choosing your first home.
- How much money have you saved?
Start with an evaluation of your financial health. How much money do you have for a down payment? Down payments are typically 5 to 20 percent of the price of the home. Also, it’s a good idea to keep enough in savings for an emergency fund, typically enough to cover three to six months of living expenses.
How much debt do you have?
Consider all of your current and expected financial obligations like your car payment and insurance, credit card debt and student loans. Make sure you will be able to make all the payments in addition to the cost of your new home. Aim to keep total mortgage payments plus utilities to less than 25 to 30 percent of your gross monthly income. Recent regulatory changes limit debt to income (DTI) ratio on most loans to 43 percent.
What is your credit score?
A high credit score indicates strong creditworthiness. A low credit score can keep you from qualifying for a low interest rate on your mortgage loan. If your credit score is low, you may want to delay moving into a new home and take steps to raise your score. For tips on improving your credit score, visit aba.com/consumers.
Have you factored in all the costs?
Create a hypothetical budget for your new home. Find the average cost of utilities in your area, factor in gas, electricity, water and cable. Find out if you will have to pay for parking or trash pickup. Consider the cost of yard maintenance and other basic maintenance costs like replacing the air filter every three months. Be sure to include real estate taxes, mortgage insurance and possibly a home owner association fee.