Buying a house is a big step – much bigger than many people realize. For first-time buyers, it often comes with a host of expenses and responsibilities that they never dreamed of, in addition to being the largest financial transaction of their entire lives up to that point. Talk about stressing you out – it’s not uncommon to have a few freak-outs during your home-buying process! It has been said that buying a house is a lot like getting married because you will be connected to your purchase (and the things you don’t like about it, which you discovered after the fact) for the next 15 to 30 years. So it’s critical that you do everything you can to ensure a wise purchase. A good starting place would be these 5 questions to ask yourself before buying a house in Boston.
1. What Are My Real Reasons for Buying a House?
This question could possibly be the most important to ensure you don’t regret your purchase later. Understanding why you really want to buy a house in Boston and having realistic expectations are key for long-term satisfaction.
According to an April 2019 report, here’s what can happen when you don’t get clear on your reasons for and expectations about buying: “51 percent of millennials have regrets about purchasing their homes. Among their biggest regrets are that their monthly mortgage payments are too high and the house requires too much maintenance.” And yet another survey found that “63 percent of the millennial homeowners surveyed had buyer’s remorse. In this case, the top regret . . . was unexpected maintenance costs or hidden costs.”
Owning a home is an important financial milestone and life moment – but yes, there will be maintenance required, which can put a damper on your spending money and free time. Nothing terrible – just be prepared for it.
Most real estate experts advise doing your research to make sure your reasons for buying a house really are good reasons backed up by evidence. If, for example, you think buying will be cheaper than renting, be sure to run the numbers. Could be true, or you could be in for a surprise.
2. Can I Truly Afford It?
Since the recession, lending standards have tightened up quite a bit. So you’ll likely need a larger down payment than you would have a few years ago. And then there are all those maintenance costs and “hidden” expenses we just mentioned – the ones that cause so many millennials to regret buying a house – they do add up. Again, just be ready for them and plan to save as much money for your rainy day fund that you can.
Your target on the down payment should be as close to 20% of the purchase price as possible. If you can in fact come up with that down payment, awesome!! You will be more appealing to lenders, and you’ll save money because you don’t have to pay for Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI).
Once you have decided how much down payment you can afford, you’ll need to determine a comfortable monthly mortgage payment range before buying a house in Boston. Buyers often run into trouble when they borrow the full amount they’ve been approved for and then have trouble making the mortgage payment each month or need money for repairs. You can use one of the many online mortgage calculators to determine how much home you can truly afford.
But the mortgage payment is only the beginning of your expenses as a homeowner. You’ll also have to factor into affordability costs for repairs and maintenance, homeowners insurance, property taxes, and condo or homeowners’ association fees. And this means you will need some reserve funds to cover these expenses.
3. What Type of Mortgage Loan is Best for Me?
The next question you need to ask yourself before buying a house in Boston involves the financing. The first consideration is the length of the loan, most commonly either 15 or 30 years. The longer the term, the less you’ll pay each month, but you’ll wind up paying a lot more in interest over the life of the loan.
A fixed rate mortgage, as the name suggests, has an interest rate that stays the same over the life of the loan, which typically allows for better planning and budgeting. An adjustable rate mortgage (also known as an ARM) starts off with a low interest rate and then later increases at set intervals.
Experts in real estate financing suggest that first-time buyers should be wary of adjustable rate mortgages. “Your interest rate will go up and increase your payments, and then you may find it difficult to keep up. Your equity may not grow quickly enough to allow you to refinance before your rate changes kick in.”
4. Do I Really Need an Inspection?
Yes. You do. Unfortunately, in some competitive markets, buyers are submitting bids that waive inspection contingencies in order to remain competitive, which is definitely risky, especially for your first home. If you don’t want any costly surprises down the road, make sure the house passes all inspections. If you don’t have an inspection, you may find out after buying a house in Boston that you have to pay for some enormously costly repairs out of your own pocket. The relatively small cost of an inspection will be worth every penny – even if you plan to do major renovations because you’ll then know what lies ahead.
Another precautionary measure you can take is to have an inspection contingency in the purchase contract. This contingency will allow you to negotiate repairs or even cancel the sale if the house doesn’t pass the inspection. Your agent can help you craft water-tight inspection contingencies to ensure you’re fully protected. (To find out more about this, call NextHome Titletown Real Estate at (617) 657-9811.)
5. Why Do I Need a Real Estate Agent?
Before buying a house in Boston – before taking the first step toward that goal, really – you should hire a qualified local agent. As a buyer – there is no cost for you to use a real estate agent. The agent is paid out of the proceeds of the negotiated sale price, and generally splits the commission with the seller’s agent. An agent can make all the difference in making the process of finding and buying a house go smoothly. Your agent will learn what you want and need and then use her knowledge of the local market to help you find exactly that.
To find out how our experienced agents can assist you when buying a house in Boston, contact us today at (617) 657-9811.
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The property listing data and information set forth herein were provided to MLS Property Information Network, Inc. from third party sources, including sellers, lessors and public records, and were compiled by MLS Property Information Network, Inc. The property listing data and information are for the personal, non commercial use of consumers having a good faith interest in purchasing or leasing listed properties of the type displayed to them and may not be used for any purpose other than to identify prospective properties which such consumers may have a good faith interest in purchasing or leasing. MLS Property Information Network, Inc. and its subscribers disclaim any and all representations and warranties as to the accuracy of the property listing data and information set forth herein.
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