Personal Finance

Questions to Ask Before Buying a New Home

February 23, 2022
An older couple cooking in a modern kitchen

For most people, buying a home is the largest purchase they will ever make, so the decision requires careful deliberation.

Is moving to a new home on your mind? Maybe you’re ready to downsize, or perhaps you’re planning ahead for a future life change. Whatever your reason may be, you want to be confident in your decision.  

If you take some time to prepare by  reviewing your personal and financial situation, each choice along the way will become much more clear. We recommend asking yourself the following questions to ensure that buying is the right path for you and set yourself up for a thoughtful and motivated buying journey.

Deciding to Buy a Home

It’s important to begin by reminding yourself why you want to buy a home. Are you dreaming about the pride of homeownership? Looking for a sense of stability and security? Making an investment for you and your family’s future? Excited for the freedom to paint your walls bright yellow? Hoping to downsize to a more affordable and low maintenance home? 

There are many reasons to buy a home. Clarifying your motivations will keep you focused as you weigh your options. With your goals in hand, you’re ready to dig into this questions to make sure buying a home makes sense for you. 

1. Do you want a mortgage?

Taking on a mortgage is a serious responsibility. When you are a renter, you’re only tied to a home until the end of your lease term, at which point you can renew your lease if you intend to stay longer.. With a mortgage, you’ll have to go through the process of selling your home again when you decide it’s time for a change. The fluctuations in home values make your final selling price unpredictable.

Mortgage lengths vary, but are usually 15 or 30 years. Depending on where you are in life, you need to consider if taking on this long-term debt is really best for your situation.

2. Can I afford to buy a home?

Ask what your debt to income ratio is. A financial planner can assist you with answering this question. This computation tells you what percentage of your current income will be going towards your debt.

Ask if you have enough saved for a down payment. 20 percent is usually ideal, but it’s not set in stone. Real estate agents and mortgage brokers can help you identify the best amount to put down in your market.

What is the current housing market like? If the inventory is low, you may be getting less for your money. If the inventory is high, you may not be able to see your current home for as much. You may wish to wait a bit to see what the market does, or you may find out that now is the best time to buy!

Think about how long you wish to stay in your new home. If you believe it may be a relatively short period of time, then you might consider renting or Truehold’s Sale-Leaseback as options.

3. Will you be able to maintain your home?

When you rent a home, your landlord is responsible for saving the day when something goes wrong. When you own your own house, however, the only person responsible for maintenance is you. If you can’t fix it yourself, you’ll need to find someone who can.

At any time, you could be on the hook for major repair costs to your HVAC system, appliances, roof, gutters, plumbing, insulation, electricity, etc.And, somehow, it always seems like everything breaks at once. These frustrating expenses can add up, and you need to make sure you have the funds ready for when you need them. 

Before you sign on the dotted line, be sure to consider if you have enough savings to handle all the necessary repairs that could come your way. A thorough inspection of your potential new home can help you anticipate these costs. Even if you’ve waived an inspection as a condition of buying, it’s a good idea to help you budget for the future.

4. Should you downsize?

People’s housing needs change throughout their lives. Some people begin in a starter home for two with room for a nursery in the future. Later, when kids are sharing rooms, they might opt for more square footage and bedrooms. Then, the day comes when the home becomes an empty nest. 

All that extra space can cost extra money. It involves high heating and cooling costs and often becomes a magnet for clutter. As kids move out of your home, it may be time to consider downsizing.

As you think about your options, reflect on your current and future needs. Will you need guest room space for kids and grandkids? What is the resale market like for your home?

5. Will you need help at home?

If you’re in or nearing retirement, you may be considering buying a comfortable home in which to grow older.

To make these years most enjoyable, many choose to hire various forms of assistance to perform tasks that can become difficult. This may include things like landscaping, housecleaning, cooking, or even assistance with medical needs.

Though there are all sorts of levels and frequency of care available, you’ll want to make sure you have enough saved up or available through income to cover the costs of these services.

When reviewing your expenses, remember that homeownership involves significant home maintenance costs. As part of the decision making process, it's a good idea to balance home maintenance and repair with any help at home you think you’ll want.

 If you’re also hoping to afford assistance in the future, you may want to consider more affordable home options.

If you’re currently a homeowner, Truehold’s Sale-Leaseback, allows you to stay in your home as a renter, so you don’t have to worry about maintenance and repairs. You also access all of your equity, which can make hiring the assistance you need more feasible.

6. Who can help?

Buying a house can be a lengthy process, but there are plenty of people that can advise you along the way. 

First, there are real estate agents. When choosing an agent, it’s a great idea to ask your friends and loved ones for recommendations. If you can find someone who is experienced working with people in your age group and life stage, it can be a real plus.

Financial advisors can also be an invaluable resource for identifying your short and long-term financial goals, then helping you come up with a strategy to meet them. If buying a new house fits in that plan, they can help you identify your next steps.

Truehold’s expert advisors are another resource you can turn to as you evaluate your options. Our team is committed to being honest, helpful, and human as we help you plan for your next step. 

Give us a call today at 314-353-9757 to learn if our Sale-Leaseback program can help you meet your goal of staying in your current home.

Get a free info kit to learn more about Truehold's Sale-Leaseback.

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