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How to know if you are ready to buy a home!

If you are a first time home buyer you probably have a lot of questions on how to buy a home, and if it is the best decision for you and your family.  As a Buyer’s Real Estate agent, I would be more than happy to answer any other questions you may have about the Tampa Real Estate Market.

Here’s a good start on what you should be thinking about and where to begin.

1. How do I know if I am ready to buy a home?

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I have a steady source of income
  • Have I been employed on a regular basis for the last 2-3 years?
  • Is my current income reliable?
  • Do I have a good record of paying my bills?
  • Do I have few outstanding long-term debts, like car payments?
  • Do I have money saved for a downpayment?
  • Do I have the ability to pay a mortgage every month, plus additional costs?

If you can answer “yes” to these questions, you are probably ready to buy your own home.

2. How do I begin the process of buying a home?

Start by thinking about your situation. Are you ready to buy a home? How much can you afford in a monthly mortgage payment (see Question 4 for help)? How much space do you need? What areas of town do you like? After you answer these questions, make a “To Do” list and start doing casual research. Talk to friends and family, drive through neighborhoods and look in the “Homes” section of the newspaper.  Search our website too!

3. How does purchasing a home compare with renting?

The most significant advantage of renting is being generally free of most maintenance responsibilities. But by renting, you lose the chance to build equity, take advantage of tax benefits and protect yourself against rent increases.

Owning a home has many benefits. When you make a mortgage payment, you are building equity which is an investment. Owning a home can also qualify you for tax breaks that actually lower your out of pocket costs. Given the freedom, stability and investment security of owning your own home, it is worth it.

4. How does the lender decide the maximum loan amount that I can afford?

The lender considers your debt-to-income ratio, which is a comparison of your gross (pre-tax) income to housing and non-housing expenses. Non-housing expenses include such long-term debts as car or student loan payments, alimony, or child support. According to the FHA, monthly mortgage payments should be no more than 31% of gross income while the mortgage payment combined with non-housing expenses should total no more than 43% of your income. The lender also considers cash available for downpayment, closing costs and credit history when determining your maximum loan amount.

5. How do I select the right real estate agent?

Start by asking family and friends if they can recommend an agent. Compile a list of several agents to talk with before selecting one. The ideal agent knows the local area well and has resources and contacts to help you in your search. Choose an agent who makes you feel comfortable, listens well and can provide all the services you need.

We hope you enjoy reading our Tampa Real Estate Blog. When selecting an agent please consider us first on your list! 813 784 7744 or [email protected]

Rae Catanese, Realtor

Written by Rae Catanese, Realtor

Licensed Realtor since 2002, Tampa Bay’s own Rae Catanese regularly gives expert advice and insider tips about the Tampa Bay real estate market via her blog, The Tampa Real Estate Insider. If you are thinking of buying or selling a home in the Tampa, St. Petersburg or Clearwater areas-then this blog is for you. I typically post articles once a week. To make sure you don’t miss my newest posts, you can subscribe here! Have a real estate question? Email me here!

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