What 5 things should you think about before you decide to purchase a home?

Remember that buying a home involves a contract. Don't necessarily buy for the life you have today. Buy the house you know you can afford. Don't get hung up on the purchase price.

Try not to push yourself to the maximum of your budget. Remember that there are more costs to consider than just the monthly mortgage payment. You should also consider local taxes, monthly utility costs, and association fees when buying. Once you submit an offer for a property, ask your agent to contact the sellers.

You can ask them to provide a breakdown of their average monthly and annual payments. Most lenders limit their debt-to-income ratio (how much of their monthly income the debt pays) to between 36% and 45%. As Zillow noted, while the exact ratio varies by lender and type of loan, it's best to base your calculations on the lower end to make sure you won't go over financially. You should have a general idea of the size of the home you want before you find a real estate agent.

Calculate a minimum and maximum of square footage and the number of bedrooms and bathrooms you'll need. One of the most important steps to buying a home is knowing the final cost when everything is said and done. There are many charges that come with buying a home beyond the mortgage. Insurance, repairs, association fees, property taxes: You must have the income and budget to handle all of these things if they are relevant to your purchase.

Buying a single-family home is a huge investment, and there's always more to it than just the purchase price. Jason Cook, Eastern Shore manager of Embrace Home Loans, says that while certain features are important, you may want to place them “towards the bottom of your priority list because you can always renovate and update a home after purchase. If you want to buy a home without a five-year plan, buy one with a price much lower than the maximum you can afford. Or, if you plan to buy new furniture, you'll want to buy a home at a price that leaves you enough to furnish it.

If you can't decide what city or town you're going to live in and what your five-year plan is, it might not be the right time to buy a home.

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