At some point in our lives, most of us will stop renting and become a homeowner. The question is, how does one know when it’s a good time to take that leap? If you’ve been thinking about taking the plunge and buying a home recently, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve laid out four signs that you’re ready to stop renting and own a home. Read them over to help determine if now is the time for you.
One of the keys to being able to buy a home is having steady employment. Essentially, since mortgage companies are giving you such a large loan, they use your employment history as an indicator that you’ll likely continue having the funds to pay them back. Traditionally, they look to see that you have at least two years at the same company before granting approval.
If you’re a freelancer or otherwise self-employed, don’t worry. There are ways to prove that you have a steady paycheck beyond showing a couple of years of W-2s. In your case, showing steady employment will be all about your tax returns. You want to have at least two years of high-net tax returns in place to prove that you have a steady source of income.
Notice we didn’t say that you have to be debt-free. These days, between student loans, car payments and medical debt, most loan companies know that it is unrealistic to expect borrowers to be totally debt-free. Instead, they simply look to make sure you aren’t carrying too much debt relative to what you make. They want to know you’ll be able to afford to take on an additional mortgage payment.
They do this using something called a debt-to-income ratio. Your debt-to-income ratio looks at how much of your monthly income goes toward paying off debts. Ideally, in order to buy a home, your ratio should be less than or equal to 36 percent. To find your current ratio, simply add together your current monthly income. Then, divide that by the sum total of your recurring monthly debts, except rent.
If your debt-to-income ratio is too high to be approved at the moment, you have two options. You can either find ways to generate more income or to pay down your debts. If you’re serious about buying in the near future, you may want to talk to a local lender about which specific moves will have the biggest impact on your finances.