Homeownership is a part of the American dream, so it's completely normal to be excited by the prospect of buying your first home. But buying when you're not in the right financial situation or when you don't have any extra time to dedicate to home maintenance can make homeownership feel more like a burden than a blessing. You don't want to buy before you're absolutely ready. Here are three signs you really are ready to buy your first home.
You have a substantial down payment.
While there are ways to get a mortgage without a big down payment, you'll often pay a lot more interest with one of these loans than with a conventional mortgage that requires 20% down. Plus, when you have 20% in cash to contribute, you won't have to borrow as much money, so your mortgage payments will be smaller overall. More banks will be willing to lend to you, so you'll have your choice of lenders rather than being forced to go with the first one who accepts you. If you don't have 20% saved, consider cutting back on your expenses for a few months and stashing some more cash before you seriously enter house-hunting mode.
You have some extra time in your day.
If you're running around working all day, getting home at 10 pm each night, and barely sleeping, adding "caring for a home" to your list of tasks will only make matters worse. When you first move in, you'll have to unpack, paint, re-arrange furniture, and more. Even after that, you'll have yard work and home maintenance to keep up with that just were not a part of your life in an apartment. If you're currently feeling overwhelmed, work on cutting some non-essential obligations out of your life to leave more time for homeownership – then look into buying.
You know what you want.
You don't have to be sure of the exact style of shutters you want or whether a wooden fence is acceptable in your mind. However, you should have a good idea of the basics. How many bedrooms are you looking for? Is the school district important, and what districts do you prefer? Do you want something you need to fix up, or is painting the limit of your renovation desires? If you start house hunting without knowing the answers to these kinds of questions, it's all too easy to end up buying something that does not really satisfy your needs and preferences.