Your home is undoubtedly the largest single purchase you will make. It will consume a huge part of your income for the next 30 years and beyond. Mortgage payments, real estate taxes, repairs and maintenance can bleed you dry unless you choose and plan carefully.
Consider the Size
Even if you can afford a larger house that doesn’t mean you have to buy the biggest house your money can afford. Once your family grows up and moves out, you’ll be left with a big empty house. In the meantime, the costs of heating, cooling and maintaining that monster can eat you alive. Should your income change for the worse, you could find yourself in serious trouble.
Brush Up Your Carpentry Skills
Being able to fix things on your own can save you plenty of cash over the years. It doesn’t hurt when you’re buying your home either. The more you can do yourself, the better. This opens up the possibility of buying a “fixer-upper.” These are homes that have been neglected and may have fallen into some level of disrepair. Sellers don’t want to fix up a house they are selling and will consider lower-than market price offers just to get out from under. Buy it cheap, insuring low, manageable mortgage payments for the life of the mortgage. Then fix it yourself, to your own tastes and standards. It’s a win-win situation.
Take Advantage of the Down Housing Market
The current economy, the slowed housing market and the high unemployment levels in many areas have contributed to record numbers of foreclosures. Banks and mortgage companies need to sell these properties and will often do so at prices far below what the house would normally fetch. Contact local mortgage companies and banks to inquire about houses they may have available. The purchase process can take a bit longer but it can be well worth your while.
Shop for the Best Rates
The average mortgage lasts 30 years so it is important to understand what you are agreeing to and to get the best terms you can. Local banks are often a good choice, because they know the community and are heavily invested in it. However, sometimes a national chain or a mortgage company can be a better choice. Listen to your realtor. Talk to friends and family about who they’ve dealt with in the past and then investigate yourself. The decision is too important to leave to someone else.