4 Incredibly Simple Money Moves That You Should Make before You Buy Your Dream House!
You've been putting aside money for the past several months. You've been paying more attention to the Federal Reserve interest rate than all of Wall Street combined. And, now that you're getting close to becoming a homeowner, you've become so good at navigating real estate sites that you could probably get paid to design one.
But even so, you just can't shake the feeling that you're missing something. Does buying a house really boil down to raising enough money for your down payment? Is there anything that you can do to prepare yourself financially for homeownership?
If you're planning to buy a house soon, here are four money moves that you should be making now.
Money Move #1: Find and Uncover as Many Hidden Costs of Homeownership as You Can
There are certain expenses that you don't have to be a homeowner to know about. These would include items like your down payment, your monthly mortgage payment, and your insurance to name a few.
But as much as these numbers often get talked about in the context of owning a house, there are also several lesser-known expenses that can chip away at the money you thought you had. Homeowners are expected to pay property taxes, they may have to cover closing costs, and, if they went with an alternative lender, they may have additional fees and expenses attached to their closing costs.
It might take a little bit of digging, but the more of these types of I-had-no-clue-I-would-have-to-pay-for-that expenses you can plan for, the more accurate your budgeting is likely to be.
Money Move #2: Pay Down as Much Debt as You Can
The problem with debt is that it has a way of making you less financially secure even if you're making good money. This is a big part of the reason why every personal finance expert out there will generally tell you to "Go debt-free as soon as you can.".
But the thing about being a homeowner is that unexpected expenses aren't just a hypothetical thought experiment. Your freezer or your furnace may very well need replacing down the line.
If your income is already tied up in credit card payments and the like, that's money you don't have to put into the house. Although becoming debt-free on a limited income isn't always easy, lowering your outstanding accounts where possible can go a long way towards helping you weather the unexpected as a homeowner.
Money Move #3: Save up More Money Than You Think You'll Need
There's one thing that many aspiring homeowners forget about when they're touring properties and attending open houses:
It takes time for your finances to settle after a move.
Chances are that even if you're the most meticulous packer and mover in the world, there's probably going to be some items that need replacing and a few other ones that you'll have to upgrade. Maybe you've always secretly hated that clunky, old-fashioned blender. Perhaps you noticed while packing that your coffeemaker was starting to have that Eau de "I should probably be replaced soon." smell.
Here's the bottom line:
Whether you're choosing between multiple couches and coffee tables or you're looking at replacing your old can opener, having extra funds tucked away can help as you find your financial footing during this major transition.
Money Move #4: Be Hardcore about Your Budget
At first blush, this one might seem a little odd. After all, it's not like you're going to forget that you have a general range you're restricted to in terms of home prices.
But here's the thing:
Many people purchase homes with their current budget limitations in mind. And the general assumption is that if you have solid career progression, you should be making more money as the years go by. Even so, the phrase "house rich and cash poor" exists for a reason.
That's why it's important to think not just in terms of your current income but also about the financial needs you may have in the future. Buying a house that you'll be able to afford even after a pay cut, may be worth exploring for the added stability that it can bring you.
By any measure, buying a home is an important milestone. However, alongside all the triumph and happy dancing that comes when you finally get the news that your mortgage has been approved and you'll be taking possession soon, owning a house can have a major effect on your finances. But with the help of the list that we've just provided, adjusting to homeownership doesn't have to be tricky.
All it takes is a bit of know-how and a willingness to plan ahead.