Understanding The Cost Of Homeownership

You’re thinking about becoming a homeowner for the first time. What steps do you take in preparation, and what are some homeownership costs? 

Start With A Plan

Start by creating a realistic budget. Jot down your current expenses like car loans, monthly credit card payments and grocery expenses. But what new costs will you need to account for? 

  • Property taxes – Search local tax records on like properties to get an idea of the cost.
  • Homeowner’s insurance – A Mel Foster insurance agent can provide an estimate.
  • Utilities – Credit counseling agencies claim that owners spend 5-10% of their annual income on utilities, including electric, water, gas, garbage, cable and streaming.

Prepare So You’ll Be Ready

Take steps that will simplify the buying process when the time is right to begin your search.

  • Find a Mel Foster Co. agent and communicate what you’re looking for.
  • Continue to set money aside, so you have a down payment.
  • Check your credit score and work to improve it. 
  • Get pre-approved for a mortgage so financing won’t hold up a sale down the road.

Financial Assistance Programs Are Available

First-time buyers often have access to state programs, tax breaks and federally backed loans that can be approved even if you don’t have the minimum down payment. For example, take time to search DPA (Down Payment Assistance) loan options that can help cover the upfront costs of a down payment. Government-sponsored and private programs can help you pay closing costs, which often represent 3-6% of the total loan amount.

Find more tips for homeowners.

Five Tips For First Time Buyers

Say goodbye to throwing away rent money every month and hello to owning your own home. It’s an exciting time in your life and following a few simple tips can make it a rewarding experience.

1. Know what you can afford.

Gather one year’s worth of your household expenses. Include credit card payments, loans, auto insurance, groceries, utilities and entertainment expenses for each month. All money that goes out each month needs to be tracked, even that $4 coffee once a week. Figure your monthly take home pay, minus the list of expenses, and that gives you a ballpark figure of what you can afford to spend. But remember, this includes your monthly mortgage, taxes, insurance and maintenance. Be sure to leave a cushion for emergencies.

2. Get pre-approved.

This step includes having lenders scrutinize your credit history and score, so make sure your credit history is accurate before this step. Read our blog, How To Prepare For Pre-qualification, for help in getting ready for this step. (include hyperlink to Dec 11 blog article, http://www.melfosterco.com/blog-detail.html?id=8)

3. Make a want vs. need list.

Set realistic priorities and make clear distinction between what you really need versus what you want. Your need list includes things you cannot live without and will be different for each person. Commute time and number of bedrooms usually fall into the need category. Stainless appliances could be added in the future, so they fall into the want category.

4. Scope out the hood.

Gather information about taxes, schools and crime rates from the neighborhoods you are considering. Take a drive through the neighborhood at night and ask yourself, “Would I feel comfortable walking alone at night in this neighborhood?” If you see neighbors outside during one of your drive bys, stop and ask about the area. Find out if there is a dog that barks all day, a loud motorcycle that starts at 5 am or neighbors who like to have loud parties well into the night.

5. Find a trustworthy home inspector.

It’s wise to always have a home inspection before you buy. There could be dangers hidden behind walls, even in new construction. It’s always better to know about potentially costly repairs before you buy a property. You can also use that the home inspector finds as leverage when submitting an offer. Sellers are often willing to fix issues before you move in as part of the sales agreement.

What’s hiding behind those walls?


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