Buying a house is not something people jump into quickly and without much thought. Most of us spend months or even years agonizing over the decision, trying to decide whether it’s the right time and the right thing to do. For it is, after all, a huge, long-term financial commitment, and the whole buying process is complex and often protracted. It’s natural and understandable, then, if you’re hesitant to take the plunge. So to help you out, we offer these 6 signs you are ready to buy a house in Los Angeles.
1. You’re Ready to Stay Put
If you are ready to put down some roots, that’s a good indication that you’re ready to buy a house in Los Angeles. The consensus is that if you plan to buy a house in Los Angeles, then you should plan to stay in it for at least five years. Staying put for a minimum of five years allows time for the property to appreciate and build some equity, which means that you’ll likely break even or even make a profit if you decide to sell.
According to the experts, you need to ask yourself – and honestly answer – the following questions before deciding to buy a house:
- Do I plan to stay at my job for the next five years, or will I be looking for new opportunities?
- “If the right position came along, would [I] be willing to move for it?”
- “Do I really like the area where I’ll be living, or would I rather live somewhere else?
- Will my living situation be changing any time soon?
- Do I plan to start a family and so need more living space in the near future?
2. Your Finances Are in Order
Next, if your finances are in order, that’s another good sign that you are ready to buy a house in Los Angeles. So if you’ve paid down your credit card debt, and don’t have huge debt in the form of car loans, student loans, or personal loans, it may be time to buy.
Your credit score is also an important element of healthy finances. Here’s blunt truth about credit score: “Your credit score is the number a bank uses to determine how well you handle credit. If your credit score is terrible, it’s probably because you handle credit terribly. Yes, there are circumstances beyond your control that could affect your credit score (such as fraud or medical bills) but even these issues need to be cleaned up before you begin shopping for a home.”
3. You’ve Saved a Down Payment
Besides having your finances in order, you need to have some savings you can use for a down payment. If you do, that’s another indication that you are ready to buy a house. You should aim for 20% of the purchase price in order to be able to borrow less and not have to pay for private mortgage insurance. But if you can’t come up with that big chunk of cash (and many people can’t), you have other options. These include FHA and other low-down-payment programs that allow you to purchase a home with a down payment as low as 3.5%.
4. You Can Handle Monthly Mortgage Payment and Other Expenses
A paramount condition for buying a house is that you are able to comfortably handle the monthly mortgage payments. And that means being aware that the monthly expenses go far beyond that monthly payment. There are other costs that can add hundreds of dollars to what you’ll pay each month, for example:
- Homeowners insurance
- Property taxes
- City assessments
- Utility bills
- HOA fees
- Home maintenance
- Home repairs`
The rule of thumb in calculating whether you can handle all these expenses is that your mortgage payment should not be more than 25% of your monthly take-home pay. If, after doing some calculations, you’ve determined that you can comfortably handle the mortgage payments and the other expenses, you may be ready to buy a house in Los Angeles.
5. You’re Willing to Accept the Responsibility
Owning a home entails a lot of additional responsibility, which basically means a lot of work doing upkeep and repair jobs. So owning isn’t for everyone, but if you’re willing to take on this responsibility – and acquire the necessary skills you don’t have now – then you’re probably ready to buy a house in Los Angeles.
People who have only rented just aren’t aware of everything they will have to do. “As the owner of a property, you’re solely responsible for its maintenance and upkeep. Are you willing to roll up your sleeves and tackle home maintenance issues that arise?” If the answer is yes, then you’re good to go.
6. You Know What You Want and Why
You also need to know what you want in a home and why you want it before buying. If you have at least a general idea of what you want in a home – for example, general location, number of beds and baths, and features – you are probably ready to buy a house. It also helps to make a list of must-have features and like-to-have features so that you’ll know your non-negotiable areas and those where you can be a little flexible.
Buying a house is indeed a big step, and you need to make sure you are truly prepared in every area. Follow our tips here, and you can be fairly sure you are ready to buy a house in Los Angeles. But it’s also a good idea to call on the expertise of the professionals.