You’ve been working for a while, saved some money and now think you are ready to purchase a home. Stop! Before you run out and start looking at all of the fabulous properties you could be living in, here is some food for thought:
1.) The first thing you should do is get a copy of your credit report. As I stated in part two of this series, you don’t want to be shocked at the bank. Get a copy of your credit report and start working to clear up any issues if there are any. Also, look at your debt, even if you have been paying your bills on time, if you have a lot of credit cards or high student loans it will impact how much of a home you can afford.
2.) Can you afford a home? Not just the mortgage payment, maintenance and upkeep as well. There will no longer be a front office to call when there is a leak, or the plumbing fails or the heat doesn’t work, that is now you. So besides the mortgage, will you also have cash on hand when something breaks. And one more thing: what about furniture? May seem like a small thing, but we all know that person that has a great wardrobe, snazzy car and a house without furniture in it is because they can’t afford it. Don’t be that person.
3.) Why are you buying a home? Yes, typically it is cheaper to buy than to rent, but should buying be a part of your life right now? Have you decided to stay in the city you are in? Is your job stable for the next three to five years ( if you lose your job, it is easier to move into a cheaper apartment than to sell a house), are you done with your education, will your income increase in the coming years (the longer you own a home, the costs to maintain will increase with wear and tear).
Buying a home is a big commitment that requires thought and planning, don’t rush into if you are not ready.
Ah, yes. The ultimate commitment. We all get there at some point. Are you financially ready? Statistics show that the number 1 argument in marriage is money, not adultery, but money.
What does this mean:
1.) Don’t think that just because someone has a nice car or watch that this is their lifestyle. This is important: many people will put on the trappings of wealth, but this is not their life. Example: Young lady dating a young man who is a business owner and drives a BMW, but it took six months for her to see his place while he was at her home (that she owned) all the time. Once all was revealed, he was living in a studio apartment and had a tax lien and several judgements on his credit report. Pay attention to the red flags.
2.) Be honest. If you have had a bump in your financial road just say so. Credit and finances are not permanent, your credit report is a fluid document that changes and can be improved, but ignoring it or being unwilling to discuss issues makes it worse.
3.) Try to understand what marriage is about. This is the most important commitment you will ever make. No one is perfect, but honesty is key and if you can’t be honest about your finances, you’re probably not ready to be honest about anything else.
Black Enterprise Columnist Jennifer Streaks is a Financial Author, Journalist & Pundit. Continue the conversation by following her on twitter @JStreaks or visiting her website at www.JenniferStreaks.com.