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Asking the right questions is an important part of every financial decision you make, and home ownership is no exception. If you’ve been thinking about buying a place, preliminary research will turn up a long checklist of questions for you to ask at every part of the process. There are questions for your financial institution, questions for your mortgage broker and questions for your real estate agent. But what about the questions you should be asking yourself?
Owning a home is likely the largest financial commitment you’ll make in your life, and it’s easy to get caught up in details pertaining to debt-to-income ratios, the real estate market, current interest rates and amortization schedules. But financials are only a part of the picture. In order to make a truly smart decision, you need to acknowledge and accommodate some personal factors along with the financial ones.
Seriously, why is owning a home important to you? (Don’t answer with what you think you should answer; be honest with yourself.) Are you looking to build equity? Does it just seem like something a “successful adult” needs to do? Do you see it as an investment? Do you think renting is somehow inferior to owning? Are you just fed up with your landlord? Do you see it as a symbol of your freedom and independence? Do you have a Pinterest board of home renovation ideas you’re dying to try? Do you think it’s something that all (insert age here)-year-olds should do?
There’s no “right” answer to this question (even though some reasons might be more frivolous than others). By simply observing what surfaces when you ask yourself these questions, you’ll get some insight into why you’re contemplating buying a home in the first place. Are your motivations fueled by practicality or insecurity? Is it something you want, or simply something that everyone else seems to be doing? You’ll be able to tell if you’re in it for the right reasons.
Stability is key when it comes to buying a home, and so anything that threatens that stability could also potentially cause some major headaches once you’ve signed the mortgage papers. Do you love what you do for a living? Do you have job security? Do you enjoy living in your neck of the woods? Is your personal life stable?
You don’t want to be in a situation where you purchase a home and then find yourself faced with the need to change things up. A career change, the start or end of a relationship or a sudden onset of wanderlust could all interrupt your plans to stay put and build equity. Of course, life can be unexpected even when you’re happy—but generally speaking, if you’re pleased with where you’re at, dramatic changes won’t be looming around the corner.