Dear Buyer, Are You Ready to Own?

Dear Buyer,

Many of us have heard all our lives that owning your own home is the American Dream, and that's what our goal should be. To be sure, we (still--but you might have to fight to keep them, see person to the right) have our tax deductions on mortgage interest and property taxes, among other things, so there are ways we are helped when owning property. And, to be sure, many people are paying more in rent, or nearly so, than they would be in after tax savings on a mortgage.

But there's another factor the first time buyer should consider strongly: Are you really ready to own? Because the truth is, there are certain responsibilities that come with ownership, and you will benefit greatly by thinking of these in advance, before you start going to open houses and getting excited, before you talk to anyone about buying anything.

Do you have a budget? Are you used to living under a financial plan, if not on paper, at least in your head? All the loan disclosures and property disclosures on earth will not help you if you are not prepared for life after you close escrow.

Create a long-term budget to help estimate all the costs of homeownership. Items such as property taxes (estimate at 1.25% of your current California sales price), your personal insurance, utilities, closing costs, appraisal fees, escrow fees, homeowner association dues, other home maintenance costs (roof, painting, plumbing), homeowner’s insurance fees, and moving costs should be included in the budget. Have you really estimated what you might have left over at the end of the month after your usual monthly expenses, and, assuming your lender qualified you for it, are you comfortable with that? And, besides financial ability and readiness, there is what I call "emotional readiness": the desire to own and the willingness to handle the commitment to ownership.

You will probably be better able to outlast temporary short term financial challenges if you have given some time and preparation towards the above, plus other homebuyer education with your Realtor. By doing so, I predict you will find both the home search process (another topic) and the entire buying process a better experience overall.
You may find a helpful free site at HouseLogic.com, where you can explore all these issues and more. This site is for both new buyers and current property owners to help estimate costs, explain maintenance and insurance issues and home improvement programs, types of financing, budgeting, costs, market trends, tax deductions and tax incentives, and much more!

Love, Your Realtor

P.S. There are many free online budget programs, or if you would like one of mine, I would be happy to e-mail it to you (this offer is open to anyone).


Jim said...

Great advice! If everyone had formulated a long term budget we may not have had a housing crisis... the free online budget I used to get my finances in order to buy a house is BudgetSimple - http://www.BudgetSimple.com it's simple enough that a financial dummy like me could use it.

Scott Smith said...

Such a nice post, it is really interesting, want to admire your work, Thanks.


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