Real Estate Report

(July 13, 2018) Most people want to own their own home—it gives a sense of security and stability.

It also allows for more flexibility in personalizing and renovating your home to make it your own. Most importantly, it allows the ability to build wealth as your equity grows. But, can you afford to buy?

Here are a few important things to consider that will help answer that question:

• Do you qualify for a mortgage? The first step when thinking of buying a home is to contact a local lender to find out if you have an adequate credit score, income and debt to income ratio to qualify, and how much you actually qualify for.

This is not as painful a process as many prospective homeowners may think, and in most cases, a lender can provide a “pre-qualification letter” for you with just a 15-20 minute phone call.

• Can you afford the principal and interest payment, plus the taxes and homeowner’s insurance?

If you are using online mortgage calculators or apps to see what you can afford, be sure to factor in the cost of county taxes, city taxes if applicable, homeowner’s and/or condo association dues, hazard insurance, and flood insurance if applicable.

Many of the mortgage calculators found online now do have fields for plugging in numbers for all of the above-mentioned expenses.

• Do you have enough money for required down payment and/or closing costs?

Even though there is a USDA/Rural Housing 100 percent financing loan available, it doesn’t cover all areas, for example, it doesn’t cover Ocean City or West Ocean City.

There are low down payment loans available, such as the FHA 3.5 percent down loan, but unless you can find a property where the seller is willing to pay the additional buyer’s closing costs, you may need upwards of $7,500-$10,000 even for a purchase price as low as $100,000. And, many condo project properties may not qualify for FHA financing.

• Are you prepared to be responsible for all of the repairs and unexpected expenditures that come along with being a homeowner?

Becoming a homeowner means you are responsible for repairing/replacing appliances, hot water heater, HVAC system, roof, well/septic, etc. Be sure you are prepared to save money over and above your mortgage payment for these expenditures that are sometimes unexpected but unavoidable.

— Lauren Bunting is a licensed Associate Broker with Bunting Realty, Inc. in Berlin.

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