You can spend hours online, getting lost on the many pages that tell you when you should purchase a home. One site will tell you to keep an eye on real estate market changes and hold out for a buyer’s market. Others will tell you that you should jump in head first and simply negotiate on your dream property. Some pages will go as far to tell you that anytime is the best time, after all, why put off till tomorrow, right?
If you talk to your relative, who's a Real Estate Agent, they will tell you that they will be able to help you in any market. If you talk to your mortgage friend, they will be able to tell you the financial aspects of being ready, but that's not the only thing to take into consideration. There's so much more that goes into purchasing a home that goes far beyond simply having the money. When individuals, who are used to renting, finally decide to make the transition, they look at their finances, clear up their credit and save for the down payment. No matter how financially prepared you are, if you are not mentally prepared, the shellshock of home ownership may end up getting the best of you.
Being mentally prepared often takes a backseat to being financially prepared, because individuals focus on the how to get their foot in the door and never on what to do once they are in there. Owning a home can take a toll on your mentally, because you take on much more responsibility than you would when you are renting. You are required to now pay attention to things that were previously left to your landlord. You are now responsible for everything involved with the property, including repairs, maintenance, taxes and more.
No longer will you have someone to make sure that the water heater is in working condition or that your home is weather proofed. That lawn maintenance, exterminating, property taxes, insurance and that lovely picture your child drew for your on the living room wall, are all your responsibility to take care of. You can't call the landlord to have the toilet fixed or figure out why the thermostat isn't working. It all falls on your shoulders now and comes out of your pockets. Just when you think things are going great in your new dream home, something breaks down or you have to get an exterminator.
Beyond getting expensive, it can become stressful and you may not be prepared for the toll it can take on you. You didn't realize that your property could actually go down in value or that your property taxes would be increased. You weren't aware that you would have so much on your plate. Everyone talks about how a home is a great investment and your largest asset, but did you read the small print about the liabilities?
Home ownership is great, when you are prepared. The last thing you want to do is jump into a purchase and find yourself overwhelmed. Along with being financially prepared, make sure that you are mentally ready for the change. You are taking on a new responsibility that comes with its own rewards and challenges. Remember that life happens and you have to be ready to face it all head on. Make no mistake, there will be unexpected events, but you have to know how to adjust and be prepared for those surprises that come your way.
Once you understand and prepare for what it will take financially and mentally, you can confidentially make a purchase and focus on turning your new house into a home.