Be sure to factor in all the costs
By Michele Dawson
Although the thought of paying a mortgage is more enticing than paying rent, it's important to understand all the costs involved in buying and owning a home as you determine whether you can afford to join the ranks of homeowners.
Potential buyers sometimes forget to factor in the down payment, homeowners insurance and the possibility of depreciation, as well as the costs associated with closing the transaction, moving, purchasing major appliances, and home, landscape and pool maintenance, not to mention furnishings and design accessories once you move in.
The days of calling up the landlord to fix your problems come to an abrupt halt when you're a homeowner. You'll be responsible for everything from malfunctioning appliances to leaky faucets to broken heating and air conditioning units and everything in between. And if you buy an older home, you'll probably eventually encounter costly repairs, such as replacing the roof or windows.
To determine whether you can afford to buy a home, you should do the following:
1. Determine the property value of homes that interest you. The property value (what the home is worth) is determined by comparing the prices of homes recently sold of similar size in the same neighborhood. Your real estate agent will be able to provide this information to you.
2. Review different mortgage loan types and compare their required down payment amounts to the money you have available. Down payments, based on a percentage of the value of the property and determined by the type of mortgage you select, typically range from three to 20 percent of the property value. Don't forget to factor in private mortgage insurance, a policy that allows mortgage lenders to recover part of their financial losses if a borrower fails to full re-pay a loan. Mortgage insurance makes it possible to buy a home with as little as 3 percent down. Usually, the lower the down payment, the higher the PMI, which typically will cost somewhere between $40 and $125 a month.