Home Ownership is quite possibly the oldest “American Dream” with one 2013 survey reporting 76% of respondents believe that owning a home is key to being considered middle class. Unfortunately, with the subprime housing market coming to an end in the mid-2000’s many families now find themselves as long-term renters and not sure of the steps needed to achieve the dream of affordable, and sustainable, home Ownership for their families. This will undoubtedly be the biggest purchase of your life and one to last many years, if not a lifetime. Do not make this decision without knowledge and careful planning. Let’s take a closer look at some initial key steps necessary along the road to home Ownership –
Know your credit score and find ways to raise it if necessary. The higher the score the better your mortgage and interest rate options will be for buying a home. If your credit needs work don't hesitate to make use of a credit counselor, or contact your creditors, for help with a plan. Your creditors aren't the enemy, and will often be willing to help you out. Also, it is important to verify that the information included on your report is accurate and make sure you haven’t been negatively impacted by a mistake or identity theft.
Home ownership is a financial obligation easier met when prepared with a savings plan in place. Traditionally experts suggest saving approximately 20% of the home price for a down payment. There are also other costs associated with home ownership such as moving expenses, utilities, maintenance, insurance and taxes to name a few. The good news is that there are multiple Home Mortgage Grant Down Payment Assistance and various other down payment assistance programs available today to help maximize your saving efforts. These will usually require a smaller contribution from the purchaser, allowing the remainder of the savings to be used for other expenses.
Start a collection – a collection of documents that is! A lot of information is needed and it will all need to be documented, so start organizing your records now in a single file, envelope or box. This will include paystubs, bank statements, complete tax returns from the past few years and possibly further verification from other sources of income, or if you have had a bankruptcy.
Create a budget – having a full understanding of your income, savings and monthly expenses plays an important part in determining how large of a mortgage you can afford. Don’t stress about setting up a budget, there are plenty of free templates like this one available for you to track and plug your information into for a clear picture of what you can afford or where you need to make adjustments to reduce expenses and maximize your savings.
Once you have checked these first four steps off of your list you will have a clearer picture of where you are on the Road to Home ownership and how much time you'll need to get you ready to be a homeowner. Remember, the ultimate goal is affordable and sustainable home ownership for you and your family. Move carefully and deliberately through your journey and do not hesitate to ask for guidance when you need it.