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When Is It Financially Smart To Buy a Home

When Is It Financially Smart To Buy a Home

Christine Pilla on August 15, 2022

When considering the purchase of real estate, there are many aspects to consider. The phrase "five-year rule" is often used in the real estate sector. According to this rule, new homeowners should generally dwell in their homes for at least five years before selling. If they choose to disregard our advice, they considerably increase the possibility of financial loss. This article examines the elements that influence whether or not a person should purchase a property.

Calculating Monthly Payments

The first and most apparent decision point is to determine your debt-to-income ratio. If you already have the money saved up to pay cash for a property, you should not put it off. The great majority of experts in this sector believe that if you are approved for a mortgage on a new home, you will be able to finance the purchase even if you did not pay cash for the property. As a result, it is critical to determine how much of a mortgage payment one can comfortably afford to pay each month.

When deciding whether or not to provide mortgages to potential borrowers, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) follows a regulation that caps the maximum debt-to-income ratio at 44% (Agarwal et al., 2016). This percentage determines whether or not the borrower can make monthly payments. Depending on the health of the economy and the state of the real estate market in particular, the guidelines that various lenders follow may be more liberal or more rigorous.

According to a debt-to-income ratio of 42 percent, your monthly loan payments and housing-related costs (mortgage, mortgage insurance, homeowners association fees, property tax, and homeowners insurance, etc.) should not exceed 42% of your monthly income. This includes everything already stated: Property tax, homeowners association fees, mortgage insurance, and homeowner's insurance are all examples of costs. Multiply your monthly gross income by 0.43 to obtain the total amount you must spend on debt payments. For example, if your gross monthly income is $5,000, the total amount you must spend on debt payments is $1,820.

Assume that you are already responsible for the following monthly payments: The minimum payment necessary for a credit card and the minimum payment required for a student loan vary by $70. A car loan requires a minimum payment of $240. The total amount owed is $680, which is made up of these three payments. As a consequence, you may be able to make additional home debt payments of up to $1,540 per month without exceeding the allowed maximum DTI. In any case, it is ideal to have a lower overall debt amount than you now have.

In addition, you must compute the ratio of your front-end debt to your income. This ratio is extremely crucial to examine since it compares your monthly income to the monthly debt that you would acquire only from housing costs. Mortgage payments and mortgage insurance are two examples of these costs. Lenders would prefer that this sum not exceed 29% in the vast majority of cases.

With a monthly income of $5,000, it will be tough to get approval for mortgage payments of $1,820 a month. This is true even if you have not been assigned any new duties. If you want to have a front-end DTI of 28%, your monthly housing expenditures must be less than $1,820. Financially, things go from bad to worse for you, and you end up losing your job, having your car destroyed, and being temporarily unable to work due to illness (Agarwal et al., 2014). If you spend 42% of your income on mortgage payments, you will not have much wiggle room to incur additional charges if you want or need to. Long-term loans account for the vast bulk of mortgage obligations.

Consider the possibility that you may be required to make these payments on a monthly basis for the following thirty years. As a result, you must conduct a reliability test on your principal source of income. You should also consider your future potential as well as the possibility that your expenses may increase over time.

Avoiding Private Mortgage Insurance(PMI)

To avoid having to pay for private mortgage insurance, it is advised that you put down at least 20%. (PMI). The private mortgage insurance premium, sometimes known as PMI, may add an extra $40 to $80 to your monthly mortgage payment for every $150,000 borrowed from the bank. There might be a variety of reasons why you do not wish to make a down payment of 20% of the buying price. You may not want to live in the home for a longer period of time, you may have long-term plans to convert it into an investment property, or you just do not want to take the risk of putting down such a significant sum of money. In this case, you may still purchase a home without putting down a deposit of at least 20% of the entire purchase price.

When using an FHA loan, you may buy a house with as little as a 4.5% down payment; but, there are benefits to having a bigger down payment (Agarwal, Liu, et al., 2014). A larger down payment has the following additional benefits, in addition to eliminating the requirement for private mortgage insurance (PMI), as previously discussed: A mortgage payment of $200,000 with a fixed interest rate of 4% and a period of 30 years would cost $945 each month. If you received a loan for $190,000 with a term of 30 years and an interest rate of 4%, your monthly mortgage payment would be $869. You may be unable to get a mortgage from certain lenders unless you make a down payment of between 5% and 10%. It is not nearly as crucial to have the capacity to purchase more property right now as it will be in the future.

Assuming you have control over your financial situation, the next stage is to do an economic study of the real estate market in either your present area or the region to which you want to go. The buying of a house is a major financial investment (Agarwal, Liu, et al., 2014). Although having enough money to make the purchase is a desirable situation, it does not resolve the issue of whether the transaction is financially acceptable. Investigating if renting rather than purchasing is the most financially smart option is one strategy that might be employed to achieve this goal. If buying is more cost efficient than renting, this makes a compelling justification for purchase rather than renting.

There are years when interest rates are very low and years when interest rates are quite high. Because of the reduced total cost, years with low interest rates are preferred over years with high interest rates in terms of monthly mortgage payment. A monthly payment of $423 would be necessary to pay off a $150,000 mortgage with a duration of 30 years (360 months) and an interest rate of 3%. The interest rate is 5%, resulting in a $538 monthly payment. The entire loan amount is $53,800. It climbs by 7% to $670 in total. If loan interest rates are falling, it might be prudent to postpone a purchase until later. If it is expected that the price of specific products will rise in the near future, it is advisable to acquire such items sooner rather than later.

In a similar spirit, it is critical to consider the long-term consequences of a real estate transaction. For many years, owning a home was nearly crucial to achieving one's financial goals. It is possible that your forebears paid $25,000 for a piece of real estate thirty years ago and subsequently sold it for five to ten times that amount. Prospective house buyers may reconsider making a purchase if the economy enters a slump or there is a string of natural disasters.

Throughout history, real estate has been seen as a safe investment with a long-term view; yet, if the economy enters a recession, this perception may be put into doubt. Several homeowners were compelled to sell their houses at large losses during the Great Recession as a result of the real estate market's steep drop in value in 2007. Many homeowners were left with properties whose values were significantly lower than the price at which they had originally acquired them within a short period of time. If you want to see the value of your property increase over time, you must make sure that your estimates include the cost of making mortgage interest payments, improving the property, and doing ongoing or regular maintenance.

Similarly, there are years when real estate prices are at an all-time low, and then there are years when they are at an all-time high. If current prices are so low that it is evident that you are getting a fantastic deal, it may be a smart idea to make a purchase right away if you want to take advantage of the present situation. When prices are low and the market is favorable to buyers, which is frequently referred to as a buyer's market, there is a greater likelihood that time will play in your favor and cause the value of your property to improve over time. For example, if history is any guide, the COVID-19 outbreak and its huge economic impact may result in a decrease in property value. If the past is any sign of the future, this would be the case.


Agarwal, S., Ben-David, I., & Yao, V. (2016, March 1). Systematic Mistakes in the Mortgage Market and Lack of Financial Sophistication.

Agarwal, S., Green, R. K., Rosenblatt, E., & Yao, V. (2014, August 1). Collateral Pledge, Sunk-Cost Fallacy and Mortgage Default.

Agarwal, S., Liu, C. H., Torous, W. N., & Yao, V. (2014, September 18). Financial Decision Making When Buying and Owning a Home.