It’s a new year. As we settle back into a regular routine after the craziness of Christmas, it’s that time of year where we start looking ahead to the coming year. So what’s in your next 12 months? Are you thinking about a new home?
“OK, put the brakes on right there. It’s only January. It’s cold. It’s icy. It’s the middle of the school year. Who wants to move this time of year if you don’t really have to, right?”
Well, I actually have an idea that this might be a great time of year to move. Find a nice, cold day that is well below freezing. Dump some water on the driveway and sidewalk, let it freeze, and BOOM, you don’t have to carry a single box. Just set them down, give them a little push, and they practically fly themselves right into your new home.
Yeah, I’ve never had anyone actually buy into that as far as I know. But it’s a good idea, right?
On a more serious note, this really is the best time of year to start the process of buying a new home. Don’t worry; I’m not necessarily advocating a mid-winter move. I just want you to start the process now.
“But, isn’t shopping for a home the beginning of the process?”
Come on! This is the largest single purchase most of us will make. You can end up in your forever dream home or you can end up in a place that feels more like a prison. This is a BIG deal. It is a process that deserves a lot of attention and intention.
So how much of a home payment can you afford? Hopefully, you know what rent is costing you right now. But if you use that same amount as your mortgage payment, will it buy you what you want and need in your new home? Did you know that not all of your monthly mortgage payment goes to your loan?
What do you even really need and want in a home? Bedrooms? Bathrooms? Garage stalls? Kitchen space? Yard space? Closet space? Area of town? And then, if there are two of you buying a home together, are you on the same page as far as what you need and want? Are you even thinking of living in the same town? This is where this could turn into a long conversation with more than a bit of negotiating. You need time to get through this.
Do you have a down payment saved up yet? Do you have enough of a down payment saved up? Depending on your loan type and down payment assistance, it’s true that you may not even need a down payment. That doesn’t mean it isn’t still a good idea.
How is your credit? Have you pulled your credit report? Do you know where your credit score is at? Is it high enough to qualify for a mortgage? Unless you are a miracle worker with your savings, you are probably going to need to get a mortgage. You can review this on your own, with a credit counselor, or find a good lender that will help you be ready when the time is right.
“Hmm, that’s a lot of stuff to work through.”
Yes, it certainly is. That’s why I’m telling you to start now even if you want to wait until nicer weather to make a move. Going through this process early, you might even decide you need to wait beyond this coming summer to move. That’s not a bad thing if it is the better, more informed decision for you.
As I type this, I am also getting things together for class this Saturday. Twice a month we offer our free-to-you Homebuyer Express class. It is six hours about the home buying process. There is so much to cover that I could make this class a lot longer. They won’t let me. So we at least get you a very good start. It is never too early to get an education about the process.
If you are looking for a little more personalized conversation, say to walk through your own credit report or establish a budget, we can do that too. You can meet with one of our counselors one-on-one in a pre-purchase appointment.
To schedule either of these, you can call us at 605-330-2700 or go to our website.
It may be cold, but it is never too early to start thinking about your next home and everything that can come with that.
written by Breck Miller, Community Relations Coordinator
images courtesy freedigitalphotos.net
LSS Center for Financial Resources
Consumer Credit Counseling Service | Housing Resources | Sharpen Your Financial Focus| Financial Fitness Education
705 East 41st Street, Suite 100 |Sioux Falls SD 57105-6047
605-330-2700 or 888-258-2227
Strengthening Individuals, Families & Communities