Looking for a house is often as frustrating as it is exciting. You want to find the perfect house for you and your family, but how do you know when you’ve found it? How do you know what you can afford? The second question is often easier to answer than the first.
You can use an online tool, such as a budget spreadsheet or mortgage calculator, to estimate what you can afford. As for finding the perfect house, you may know when you do, but there are some ways the right home for you will stick out from all the rest you’ve seen.
You Feel Comfortable and Invited
One sign that you’ve found your house is feeling like you want to see the inside of it. If the house doesn’t entice you from the outside, it’s probably not the house for you. Once you do go inside, you’ll feel welcome and not uncomfortable with any of the rooms, particularly the bathroom and the kitchen. If you can imagine yourself living in the house, it’s a strong candidate.
You’re Not Overwhelmed by Repairs
The perfect house for you may need some minor repairs, but you shouldn’t be faced with a major project or complete cosmetic overhaul unless you’re actually looking for a fixer-upper. Major repairs can eat away at your savings and delay your move-in date.
Your Needs are Met
It’s easy to forget basic needs when looking at a home, especially if the home has the features and look you want. You’ll need a home that has the number of bedrooms and bathrooms you require. If you know you want a garden or other items that require a backyard, you’ll need a home with enough yard space. Other items you’ll need to consider include a garage and storage space. Even if the home is perfect in every other way, you will run into problems if it doesn’t meet your needs.
You Can Afford the Payments
If you’re buying with a mortgage, you may already know the maximum loan amount you’re approved for. However, the limit may not reflect what you can truly afford. Lenders may approve you for an amount above what you’ll be able to pay without running into financial problems. Your agent may be showing you homes based on that overestimated loan limit.
Calculate what you can afford by creating a complete household budget. Don’t omit any expenses, no matter how small and leave out unreliable income sources. Once you’ve determined the highest loan payment you can handle, use a mortgage calculator to estimate loan payments based on different loan amounts, so you know how much you can borrow.
The mortgage calculator will account for interest and any other expenses that will raise your payment, such as homeowners insurance. Buying a home you can’t afford is a big mistake, as you’ll lose your home and any equity you gained if the bank forecloses.
**Photo by Living in Monrovia**