Shopping for a home can be a great experience—especially for first-time homebuyers who have always dreamed of owning their own place. However, it’s critical to know how much you can truly afford. After all, there is more to consider than just the price of a home.
Thanks to online calculators and apps, it’s easy to figure out how much a mortgage payment would be on a house, but that monthly payment is just the tip of the iceberg.
A new home will also require homeowner’s insurance and property taxes, meaning both of these will need to be factored into your monthly payments. Insurance will protect the home against things such as fire, theft and some weather incidents, while your taxes will go toward community expenses such as school, city maintenance and public services.
Think about the bills that will come each month. Homeowners need to pay their water, gas, electricity and oil bills to keep their home running smoothly, and add-ons such as alarm services or homeowner association fees must also be factored in.
Usually when people move into a new home, they want to bring in new furniture and make some changes or upgrades in the home, such as painting or adding curtains or carpets. Be sure to leave room in your budget for changes like this.
Unless you’re someone who has the time and energy to work outside, you may need to hire someone for yard upkeep such as landscaping, mowing, raking leaves and shoveling snow in the winter. Make sure you know how much these local contractors will cost.
And don’t forget food bills, dining out, entertainment and gifts for special occasions, as well as saving for kids or your future. All of this will play a role in how much you spend each month.
By considering these other financial requirements, you can get a much better sense of how much you really can afford, and will keep yourself from shopping for a home that you won’t be able to enjoy because you’re living paycheck to paycheck.