Are You in Better Shape to Buy a Home Than You Think?

You might be closer to homeownership than you realize.

happy couple after buying new house
Updated May 28, 2024
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Your home is probably the biggest purchase you’ll ever make, so it’s a good idea to ensure you’re ready to make the move.

The responsibility of owning a home can impact your day-to-day life and your financial life. You will have to keep up with your mortgage and even find ways to avoid costly home repairs that could set you back. 

But here’s the good news — you might be more financially prepared for homeownership than you think, and here are some clear signs of it.

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You can pay for moving expenses in cash

LIGHTFIELD STUDIOS/Adobe couple with labrador dog moving to new home

Moving is a one-time expense but another cost associated with homeownership. It could cost a few hundred to tens of thousands of dollars, depending on how far you’re moving.

But regardless of the cost, it’s a good idea to make sure you can pay the fees without going into debt.

Suppose you’ve budgeted for the moving costs and can afford to pay in full. That's a great sign of financial fitness for the other homeownership expenses as well. 

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You have an emergency fund

freeograph/Adobe happy family came in furniture store to buy mattress

It’s expensive to buy a home. The down payment, closing costs, and other fees are probably already on your radar. But other unexpected expenses can add up.

You might need additional furniture to make the home livable, or the home inspection might reveal that you need to replace the air conditioning within a year.

Even though you might not use your emergency fund to pay for every expense, having one is essential so you can use incoming cash towards necessary purchases and don’t have to worry about building up your savings.

If you already have one set aside, you’re one step closer to homeownership, and you probably didn’t even realize it.

You have a downpayment

fizkes/Adobe couple first time home buyers celebrate moving day

For many people, saving the downpayment is the most challenging part.

While the amount may vary, most mortgage lenders require borrowers to have a down payment. If you can save a downpayment of 20%, you can avoid private mortgage insurance (PMI) fees.

If you have a downpayment earmarked for a home purchase, you are probably in better shape to buy a home than you think.

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You can comfortably afford the monthly expenses

anekoho/Adobe family portrait smiling outside their new house

Saving a down payment is a big deal. Still, ensuring you can afford homeownership’s monthly expenses is vital. You want to consider the mortgage payment, property taxes, home insurance, utilities, water bills, and potential HOA fees.

For some people, homeownership is cheaper than trying to find ways to pay rent every month. But for others, the monthly costs increase.

As long as you account for all the associated expenses and can comfortably afford them, you’re in solid shape to buy a home.

You’ve been paying down your debt

Rido/Adobe happy couple dream new home

Your monthly expenses may increase with homeownership. Even if they don’t, you might have unexpected costs throughout homeownership.

This can include repairs, broken appliances, cosmetic changes, and more. Because of that, it’s often wise to pay off your debt before adding a mortgage to the mix.

If your debt is at a point that you’re comfortable with, it’s a good sign that you’re ready to buy.

You don’t intend to move for awhile

Pavel Losevsky/Adobe Couple thinking about dream house

It’s expensive to move and even more costly to buy a home. If you plan to move in a year or two, you’re probably better off saving money. Plus, you can save yourself a lot of time and energy.

But if you know you intend to stay in your current city or town for at least a few years, it might be a good sign that you’re ready to buy property.

Life happens, and no one can predict the future. But if you intend to stay in the area for a while, you’re in good shape.

You have a stable source of income

Studio Romantic/Adobe married couple buy new home and move in first own house

The costs of homeownership add up, and a stable source of income can help offset some of the sticker shock.

But before you can even spend a penny, you usually need a reliable source of income to qualify for a mortgage. Beyond that, you often need a few years of income history to be eligible for a mortgage.

If you have a job that provides a regular paycheck, you might be well on your way to home ownership.

The timing makes sense man smiling confident using smartphone

It’s tough to predict what will happen in life, but there are some considerations when buying a home and making a big move.

For example, if you’re a parent, considering the school calendar is often a good idea, especially if your kids will change districts or school sites due to the move.

It can also be wise to look at your annual calendar of holidays, work events, travel, and more. You don’t need to postpone anything for a move, but if it seems like it’s slotting into place, it’s a good sign.

You’re ready for more responsibility

fizkes/Adobe parents and kid daughter coming into new home

There’s almost no limit to what you need to handle as a homeowner — pests, landscaping, plumbing, electrical, safety concerns, and appliances.

For many people, the responsibility is worth it, and homeownership is a dream come true. But for others, renting and the fewer responsibilities that go with it makes more sense.

If you’re ready for extra responsibility and are excited by the challenge, you might be ready for homeownership.

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You know the local market

Sono Creative/Adobe young woman walking dog in modern residential houses neighborhood

There’s never a perfect time to buy a house. But you can always learn about your local market before you buy a home.

If you’ve attended open houses, explored different neighborhoods, and researched what to expect, you’re probably in great shape to buy in your local market.

Realistic expectations and knowledge can make all the difference.

Bottom line

Studio Romantic/Adobe holding symbolic paper house raising hand up and shouting YES

It can be scary to take the plunge into homeownership, especially when it’s your first time.

That’s why it’s always a good idea to assess your financial fitness and check in with yourself, as well as learn about the market. You might be surprised by what you discover.

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