How Do You Know When You’re Ready To Buy A Home?

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Owning your home is one of the biggest adventures of your life. It creates a unique sense of pride and ownership. It also gives you a canvas to imprint your tastes, interests, and lifestyle on.

However, owning a home has proven particularly challenging for many individuals in recent decades. A variety of economic and lifestyle factors have held many back from being able to indulge in the financially exhausting activity of homeownership.

If you’re trying to decide if you’re officially ready to take on your own home, you’re not alone. Here are some of the biggest questions worth asking as you sort through whether or not you’re ready to buy a house.

Are You Financially Prepared?

Houses are often trumpeted as sound economic investments. They help you build up equity and avoid the need to throw away money on paying rent to a landlord.

While this is true, though, it’s equally true that houses are expensive. Very expensive. When you own your own home you have to pay for a variety of things, including:

  • The mortgage;
  • Home insurance;
  • Property taxes;
  • Utilities;
  • Maintenance and repair costs;
  • Home improvements and renovations;
  • Landscaping;

The list goes on and on.

On top of that, you’ll need a good chunk of change to buy the house itself. From realtor fees to taxes, down payments, moving costs, and more, there are plenty of ways to spend your hard-earned cash while buying a house.

The first question that you have to answer, then, is if you can afford a house in the first place. Do you have a solid and consistent income to pay a monthly mortgage? Can you save up extra money for repairs and unexpected homeownership expenses?

If you find that you’re considering wiping out your savings or emptying your nest egg early, you may want to think twice about your financial preparedness. Instead of moving now, consider protecting your retirement and rainy day funds and begin saving money specifically for a house.

However, if you have a decent amount of money set aside to offset up-front expenses and a steady stream of income to boot, you may be ready to leap.

Do You Have Other Expenses Looming?

Even if you have a sound financial footing under you, that doesn’t automatically equate to being ready to buy a home. While your present financial situation may be solid, it’s worth asking yourself if it will remain that way.

For instance, do you have any major expenses coming up? Are you fresh out of college and about to start paying for school loans? Do you have a wedding or birth on the calendar? The major expenses associated with these activities can put unnecessary pressure on your life if you also toss the added expense of a home into the mix.

Is Your Career Ready for Homeownership?

For many, the topic of their career as a whole — not just the money that it generates — often doesn’t factor into the idea of owning a home. However, it’s often recommended that you plan on owning your home for at least three to five years before you move again if you want it to be financially worth the work.

This naturally leads to the follow-up question: is your career going to be stable for the next three to five years or so?

Another question to ask is if you’re considering pursuing a change in your career at any point soon. If that’s the case, can you look for a job in a good housing market with low prices that will appreciate in the future? You may even be able to find an employer with a good job relocation package that helps you offset some of the costs of buying a house and moving into your new residence.

Are You at the Right Time of Life to Take the Plunge?

Another concern is if you’re at the right time of life to buy a home. Have you recently graduated from college and decided it’s time to buy a home? There are a number of factors to consider before signing on the dotted line.

For instance, are you thinking of getting married? If you already are, do you plan on having kids soon? If you’re on the younger side of things, has your credit had enough time to build up to a good credit score?

From family dynamics to jumping the gun on your credit, your age and stage of life are both important factors when it comes to getting a good deal on your home.

Figuring Out if Now is the Time to Buy a Home

Owning your own home isn’t formulaic. It can’t be. Everyone’s situation is uniquely different from one another. However, many common factors can most certainly help you judge how ready you really are to buy a home.

Things like financial security, a lack of major future expenses, having a stable career, and even simply being in the right time of life all factor into the mix. If you want to make the right decision, you must ask yourself the tough questions. Only then can you move into your homeownership journey with confidence.

Winter Storm & Extreme Cold: Preparation For Disaster

Before Winter Storms and Extreme Cold

Add the following supplies to your disaster supplies kit:

  • Rock salt to melt ice on walkways
  • Sand to improve traction
  • Snow shovels and other snow removal equipment.

Prepare your home and family

  • Prepare for possible isolation in your home by having sufficient heating fuel; regular fuel sources may be cut off. For example, store a good supply of dry, seasoned wood for your fireplace or wood-burning stove.
  • Winterize your home to extend the life of your fuel supply by insulating walls and attics, caulking and weather-stripping doors and windows, and installing storm windows or covering windows with plastic.
  • Winterize your house, barn, shed or any other structure that may provide shelter for your family, neighbors, livestock or equipment. Clear rain gutters; repair roof leaks and cut away tree branches that could fall on a house or other structure during a storm.
  • Insulate pipes with insulation or newspapers and plastic and allow faucets to drip a little during cold weather to avoid freezing.
  • Keep fire extinguishers on hand, and make sure everyone in your house knows how to use them. House fires pose an additional risk, as more people turn to alternate heating sources without taking the necessary safety precautions.
  • Learn how to shut off water valves (in case a pipe bursts).
  • Know ahead of time what you should do to help elderly or disabled friends, neighbors or employees.
  • Hire a contractor to check the structural ability of the roof to sustain unusually heavy weight from the accumulation of snow – or water, if drains on flat roofs do not work.

Prepare your car

  • Check or have a mechanic check the following items on your car:
    • Antifreeze levels – ensure they are sufficient to avoid freezing.
    • Battery and ignition system – should be in top condition and battery terminals should be clean.
    • Brakes – check for wear and fluid levels.
    • Exhaust system – check for leaks and crimped pipes andrepair or replace as necessary. Carbon monoxide is deadly and usually gives no warning.
    • Fuel and air filters – replace and keep water out of the system by using additives and maintaining a full tank of gas.
    • Heater and defroster – ensure they work properly.
    • Lights and flashing hazard lights – check for serviceability.
    • Oil – check for level and weight. Heavier oils congeal more at low temperatures and do not lubricate as well.
    • Thermostat – ensure it works properly.
    • Windshield wiper equipment – repair any problems and maintain proper washer fluid level.
  • Install good winter tires. Make sure the tires have adequate tread. All-weather radials are usually adequate for most winter conditions. However, some jurisdictions require that to drive on their roads, vehicles must be equipped with chains or snow tires with studs.
  • Maintain at least a half tank of gas during the winter season.
  • Place a winter emergency kit in each car that includes:
    • a shovel
    • windshield scraper and small broom
    • flashlight
    • battery powered radio
    • extra batteries
    • water
    • snack food
    • matches
    • extra hats, socks and mittens
    • First aid kit with pocket knife
    • Necessary medications
    • blanket(s)
    • tow chain or rope
    • road salt and sand
    • booster cables
    • emergency flares
    • fluorescent distress flag

Dress for the Weather

  • Wear several layers of loose fitting, lightweight, warm clothing rather than one layer of heavy clothing. The outer garments should be tightly woven and water repellent.
  • Wear mittens, which are warmer than gloves.
  • Wear a hat.
  • Cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs.