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While some people choose the flexibility of renting and being somewhat free of maintenance while having the ability to move often, many choose ownership for other reasons. It would be nice to say that the main reason for owning a home is the pride of home ownership, but that’s not quite true for most people. Their reasons are purely economical and there are clear financial advantages.
Determining the right home for you
There are a number of things to consider when choosing the right home and everyone’s priority is different. Where should it be located; neighborhood preference; single or multi-level, number of bedrooms and baths; square footage; yard size; features; quality of schools; age of home; interior or exterior appeal; and most of all, price, because if it’s out of your budget, it can’t be considered.
Figuring what you can afford
In addition to your monthly mortgage payments, there are many things to factor in when determining how much you can afford, or even if you can afford to buy a home at all. There is a down payment for the loan, closing costs, moving expenses, plus purchases and maintenance for the new home. Generally, your annual gross income multiplied by 2.5 will give you an approximate amount for the price of home you can afford. It could vary depending on how much you have as a down payment, your debts, financial situation, and credit history/rating. Your debts, including alimony and child support, should not be more than 30 to 40% of your gross income.
— Down Payment Your down payment is a percentage of the property value and is usually from 3 to 20%, or more if you want a lower loan amount. This can vary by the type of mortgage you obtain. Also, if your down payment is less than 20%, you may be required to pay mortgage insurance (PMI or MI).
— Closing Costs These are settlement costs involved in purchasing your home. They range from 2 to 7% of the property value and include such things as points (a percentage paid for securing a particular interest rate), financing fees, taxes, title insurance, pre-paid and escrow items, and your down payment. You will receive an estimate of these costs prior to closing.
What to know about credit
Nothing is more important than your credit when it comes to buying a home. The first thing a lender will do is review your credit report. This is a history of money you have borrowed in the past and how you have repaid those debts. It contains a list of debts such as credit cards, car loans, and other loans. It shows any bills that have been referred to a collection agency. It lists other public record information such as liens or bankruptcies. And, it documents inquiries about your creditworthiness and whether you were extended credit or not.
Your credit report is constantly updated, and most information is deleted after 7 years (10 years for bankruptcies). This credit information then helps generate a computer-derived number that indicates your risk as a payer of debts. This is called your credit score. Your credit history and/or your credit score is used to decide whether your loan is approved and it could be used to determine your interest rate.
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