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How Can I Tell If I'm Ready To Buy A House?

            Buying your first home is one of those landmark life decisions – like getting your first job, moving out on your own, getting married, or having kids. It's scary, it's exciting, and there are a lot of details you have to figure out to make sure you're not making a mistake. But just like those other big decisions, a little introspection and a lot of research goes a long way toward making sure that your choices a sound one.

            The good news is that buying your first home is a personal, local matter. So while it's a good idea to have a broad sense of what's going on in the wider economy and housing market, it's a lot more important to understand your personal financial situation and the housing market in the towns and neighborhoods where you're looking to buy your first house.

            In order to tell if you're financially ready to buy a home, you'll want to evaluate your level of financial responsibility and stability. Are you good at making payments on time, or do you regularly forget bills and make late payments? Do you have a lot of debt or do you have a solid savings account? These kinds of things can affect your credit score, which determines what kind of interest rate you can get or whether you're eligible for a mortgage at all. You should also figure out whether you have saved up enough to make a down payment on your first home, and whether you'll have a cushion for any repairs or renovations that need to be made – expected or otherwise. And finally, you need to have a sense of your stability: how long have you had your current job? How likely is it that your job situation could change, either through being laid off or through getting transferred to another location?

           Once you have a good handle on your own financial situation, you'll need to look at the local market and determine what kind of house and neighborhood best suits your needs. This part of the search is where a good Realtor is absolutely indispensable. Hyper-local markets mean that one town might be experiencing a real estate boom, while a town 10 miles away is hurting from the housing bubble's bursting. Just as important as the actual market are the characteristics that you're looking for. What kind of amenities do you have to have? How big of a house? Is the school district important to you? Do you want a quiet setting or a vibrant nightlife nearby? A realtor who knows the local market well will help you narrow down your search to homes that are perfectly suited to the lifestyle you want to have.

            If you're trying to decide whether you're ready to buy your first home in the St. Louis Metro East area, you don't have to go it alone. There are far more options out there that most people imagine, whether it's an unconventional financing option or an overlooked neighborhood. Talk to me today to learn how I can help make finding your dream home a reality. 

Christa Hohman, Broker at RE/MAX Alliance – 618-978-6608

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