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Buying a home is one of the largest commitments you will make in your life. It's also one of the best. Being a homeowner comes with a sense of independence that renting simply can't match. You can do with your home whatever you like, making it the place you love to go home to at the end of the day. Knowing when you're ready to buy a home is a complicated issue. But it's also a learning process that everyone is new to at some time in their lives. Sure, buying a home can be anxiety-inducing. But you don't need to add any more nerves to the process because you feel uninformed. In this article, we'll lay out a basic checklist that will help you determine when and whether you're ready to buy a home so that you can worry less about your credentials and focus more on finding the right home.

The checklist

  • Finances. We hate to put it first, but the reality is your finances are one of the main things that determines your preparedness for becoming a homeowner. Unlike renting, there's a lot more that goes into the home financing process than just your income. Banks will want to see your credit score to ensure you have a history of paying your bills on time. They'll also use your credit information to see how much debt you have and if you'll be able to take on homeowner's expenses on top of that. Another financial impact for buying a house is to determine if you can afford a downpayment. It's one thing to see that you can cover your bills with your income, but unless you have enough money saved for the downpayment (and any emergency expenses that may come up) you should wait a while and save before hopping into the market.
  • What are your longterm plans? Many people are excited at the thought of home ownership to the extent that they forget their life circumstances. If you have a job that might cause you to relocate in the next 5-7 years you might want to consider renting rather than buying. Depending on factors like the price of the home, cost of living in your area, and how long you plan on living in your new home, it may be cheaper to buy or rent in the long run. There are calculators available online that will tell you which option is probably more cost-effective for you. As a general rule, however, if you plan on living in a new home for under 5-7 years, it might be cheaper to rent.
  • Do you have the time and patience to be a homeowner? Owning a home means you can't call on the landlord to fix your leaks anymore. Similarly, you probably won't be able to depend on someone else to shovel snow or mow the lawn for you. It takes work to be a homeowner, and if your job has you away from home for long periods of time or working very long hours, renting might not be appropriate at this time.
  • Plan for new expenses. If you can comfortably pay rent and you find out your home loan payments will be comparable, you should know that there will likely be new expenses to consider as well. Home insurance, property taxes, and expenses for things like sewer, plumbing and electrical repairs all should be taken into consideration. Additionally, you will likely have new utility bills, including electricity, water, oil, cable, and others depending on the home.



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