When Should You Buy A House?

When Should You Buy A House?
by John Carlucci - August 9, 2022

If you feel ready to purchase a home, the first thing you will certainly ask is, "How much can I afford?" And resolving this question requires considering a number of elements.

Learn how to examine "affordability" before purchasing that home that appears to be a bargain. You must evaluate a variety of criteria, including the debt-to-income (DTI) ratio and mortgage rates.

Key Takeaways

  • Determining your debt-to-income ratio (DTI), and in particular, your front-end DTI, is a crucial aspect of obtaining a mortgage.
  • The amount of downpayment you can afford will affect your ability to buy a property.
  • In determining whether you can afford to buy a home, you need to take into account a variety of financial and lifestyle factors in addition to the price of the property.
  • Additionally, you should assess the local real estate market, the economic forecast, and the consequences of your desired length of stay.
  • You must also examine your present and future lifestyle needs.

Understand Your Debt-to-Income Ratio First

Money is the first and most obvious decision point. If you have enough cash to purchase a home outright, you can surely afford to do so today. If you qualify for a mortgage on a new home, most experts would agree that you can finance the purchase even if you did not pay cash. But what mortgage amount can you afford?

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) commonly uses the 43 percent debt-to-income (DTI) ratio threshold as a guideline for mortgage approval.

This percentage evaluates if the borrower can make monthly payments. Depending on the real estate market and general economic situations, some lenders may be more flexible or strict.

A DTI of 43% indicates that your regular loan payments plus your housing-related expenses (mortgage, mortgage insurance, homeowners association fees, property tax, homeowners insurance, etc.) should not exceed 43% of your total monthly income.

For instance, if your monthly gross income is $4,000, you would multiply this number by 0.43 to determine the total amount you need to spend on debt payments, which is $1,720. Suppose you already have the following monthly obligations: Minimum payments of $120 for credit cards, $240 for a car loan, and $120 for school loans total of $480. Therefore, you can theoretically afford up to $1,240 per month in additional mortgage debt without exceeding the maximum DTI. Obviously, less debt is always preferable.

When Should You Buy?

Any age, young or old, has the potential to gain from purchasing a property, provided certain conditions are met. You may be prepared to buy when you have completed the following:

  • Can comfortably afford the monthly payments and other expenditures associated with owning.
  • Are you eligible for a decent loan (or better yet, pay cash)
  • Plan to hold on to the property long enough to repay transaction expenses and recover from any price reductions (if prices recover).
  • Can afford the risks, such as unexpected maintenance costs or a decline in your home's market value
  • Are prepared to assume the responsibilities of house ownership and maintenance

There is no implication that you are irresponsible if you do not purchase a home by a specific age. Homeownership may be expensive, time-consuming, and frustrating. When your sole duty is a six-month lease, it is much simpler to pack up and move.

Motives for Purchasing Young

If you want to buy when you're young and have the financial means to do so, there may be various advantages to starting early.

Build Wealth

Assuming all goes well, homeownership is a means of growing one's net worth. The "forced savings" of your monthly payments helps you create equity in the property, which you can utilize in the future to purchase another home or meet other requirements. You "save" a portion of your monthly housing payment instead of providing the full amount to your landlord.

Price Appreciation

There is no assurance that your home's value will increase over time, but this is typically the case. Assuming your property stays at pace with rising prices, real estate can serve as a hedge against inflation. Especially in robust markets with abundant potential, price appreciation may add to your acquisition of wealth. However, it is safer to purchase a property as a "home" that you want to occupy, rather than as an investment.

A Place of Your Own

When you own a residence, you are in control. You can alter the design or layout to suit your taste, make changes that increase value, and establish deeper roots in the community in which you reside. You do not need a landlord's consent or to reverse the nice things you've done in order to receive your security deposit back. However, local regulations and HOA restrictions may restrict what you may do, so investigate any potential constraints before purchasing.

Are you prepared to purchase a home? Yes, if you have the means to do so. But "afford" is not as easy as the amount of money in your bank account. A variety of additional financial and lifestyle factors should be factored into your calculations.

When all these factors are considered, "whether you can afford to do it" becomes more challenging than it initially appears. However, addressing financial concerns before making a purchase might prevent costly errors and future financial issues.

If you are interested in more articles like this, check out this article on how to write a strong lease agreement.

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