5 Budgeting Tips
A house is likely to be the most expensive purchase you’ll ever make. And if you’ve waited a long time for this day to come, you’ve undoubtedly thought about the features you desire – maybe you’re craving a huge master bedroom with walk-in closets, or perhaps a gourmet kitchen. We’ve listed five budgeting tips for you to follow that will help you out.
While you don’t want to skimp on the amenities you love, adding too many can drive up the cost and destroy your budget. By thinking about your long-term financial goals and assessing your budget before you buy, you can score the home you want without experiencing buyer’s remorse.
1. Establish a Firm Price Limit and a List of “Must Haves”
When you’re pre-approved for a mortgage, your bank determines how much they think you can afford to spend on a house. But don’t assume the number they provide is the amount you should spend.
Go online and use a mortgage calculator – after you enter a sale price, a loan term, and interest rate, the calculator estimates your monthly payment, including home-owners insurance, property taxes, and private mortgage insurance. Also, research whether there are other expenses you’ll need to work into your budget after buying a home.
For instance, association dues, a lawn or pest service or possible higher utilities; these costs can really add up and eat into your monthly budget. If you decide in advance which amenities are “must-haves” and which would simply be nice to have, you’ll be in a better position to stay within budget when you start looking at homes.
2. Keep Tabs on Your Real Estate Agent
I’ve had only positive experiences with my real estate agents, but not everyone is as lucky. Good agents respect your finances and only show you homes you can afford.
That being said, some agents may try to push the envelope and recommend properties outside your price point. Be firm and stick to your guns.
3. Don’t Compare Yourself to Others
It’s very easy to fall into the cycle of “compare and despair.” This is a nasty cycle to fall into, especially when it comes to buying a home. A house isn’t a pair of shoes or an expensive handbag – if you overspend when buying a house, it isn’t easy to recover from the mistake.
Rather than obsessing over the fact that your friend bought a house with an outdoor kitchen, offer your congratulations, and then get excited about what your budget can do for you. Maybe you’ll have four bedrooms instead of two, or you’ll have a gas oven instead of an electric one. Then, think about the ways you’ll benefit from staying within your budget, such as maintaining a healthy vacation or a retirement fund or starting a college fund for your kids.
4. Avoid Bidding Wars
Competing with other buyers is no picnic, and to win a bidding war, you often have to increase your offer. This isn’t necessarily bad, as long as you’re able to stay within budget – however, bidding wars can get out of hand quickly.
If you get caught in a bidding frenzy, you could end up spending more than you want. Decide how much you’re willing to pay for a particular house in advance, and resist the urge to exceed that limit. In other words, be willing to walk away.
5. Bid on Houses That Aren’t Selling
Some buyers shy away from homes that have been on the market for a long time, assuming that there must be some hidden defect. But sometimes, a home’s inability to sell is much more simple. For instance, maybe it just has bad curb appeal, or there’s too much inventory in a particular market.
Therefore, it is important that you do not automatically rule out a house just because it has been sitting for a long time. If anything, seek out these houses. The seller is probably motivated and willing to drop the asking price to move the property.
Even if the seller isn’t willing to drop the price, there are still more opportunities for negotiation when a home has been on the market for months. If you can identify the reason the property hasn’t sold, then you can ask the seller to reduce the home’s asking price or provide a cash allowance for the fix.
If you’re still concerned about possible hidden defects, state in your bid that the offer is subject to a satisfactory home inspection – which is a good idea no matter what.
Staying within budget when buying a house takes discipline, so you must approach the buying process with care. Know what you’re willing to spend, and refuse to look at homes listed above your budget. If you’re unable to find a suitable property after a few weeks or months, revisit your budget to see if you have any wiggle room. If not, hold out – it’s only a matter of time before the right house comes along.