Why should I buy a home, instead of renting?

Most of us start out as renters because it doesn’t require a big upfront financial investment. But the downside to renting is that your monthly payments are a pure expense. In other words, once you make them, they’re gone forever.

On the other hand, when you own a home, there are some nice financial perks, such as:

  • A portion of each payment reduces your outstanding loan balance each month, if you have a fixed-rate mortgage.
  • Your mortgage interest and property taxes can be deducted from your taxable income each year.
  • The market value of your home may rise over time, allowing you to build equity.

Additionally, when you own a home, you can have the lifestyle you want, spread out, and express your personal style. However, you’ll be responsible for maintenance and many unexpected expenses.

When should I consider buying a home?

The right time to consider buying a home is different for everyone. But here are a few important questions that you should ask:

  • Do I have established credit?
  • Can I demonstrate 2 years of steady income from a job or business?
  • Can I afford to pay a mortgage, taxes, and insurance every month?
  • Is my current income likely to continue or increase?
  • Do I have enough saved for a down payment? (See more about this below).

If you answer “yes” to these questions, you’re probably in a good position to seriously consider buying a home.

How much down payment money will I need?

How much down payment you’ll need depends on several factors, including the price of the home, the type of mortgage you get, and customary closing costs for buyers in your market.

In general, you need enough cash in the bank to cover 3 costs:

  1. Earnest money – this is the good faith deposit you make on a home when you submit an offer. The customary amount varies depending on the market, but might range from 1% to 3% of the offer price. If your offer is accepted, the funds are applied toward your closing costs. If not, your earnest money is returned to you.

  2. Down payment – this is the percentage of the home price that you must pay at closing. The more you put down, the lower your mortgage payments will be. Some loans require you pay 5% to 20% of the purchase price. Other loans designed for first-time home buyers, such as an FHA loan, may only require 3.5% down or less.

  3. Closing costs – these are fees you must pay at the settlement, such as an appraisal, inspections, taxes, title insurance and escrow fees, and any other processing expenses. 

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