HOW MUCH HOUSE SHOULD YOU BUY?

#housing #RealEstate #OverHoused
Buying a house is never easy, unless you are, say, an investor paying cash.
Most homebuyers need a mortgage, and getting qualified for one is a process.
Peter Dunn, a financial planner, says many people are “over-housed.” It’s a concept of paying too much money for housing, in relation to one’s income. In some areas, housing prices are over the top, and one cannot help paying too much for a house.
But some over-housing is self-inflicted, Dunn says. He wrote about over-housing in a column in the Jan. 18, 2016, edition of USA Today.
He cites the example of Mark and Jennifer, a Midwestern couple in their mid-40s, who decided 11 years ago to build their “family home.”
Mark and Jennifer knew they were pushing the limit of what they could afford, but the bank approved them for a loan. That gave them reassurance, Dunn writes.
“Things spiraled out of control from there,” Dunn quotes Jennifer.
When housing bubbles burst, it’s the over-housed folks who get slammed first. Are you over-housed? Here are Dunn’s pitfalls: if you’ve dumped everything into a house, and have no emergency fund, you could be in trouble. There are also the realities of increased utility costs, home maintenance, homeowners insurance, property taxes etc. If you didn’t budget for those increases, you could be in trouble.
Mark and Jennifer’s home was 2,000 square feet bigger than their previous home. Their utility costs were much higher and, after two homeowners insurance claims, their premiums went through the roof, Dunn writes. Their tax assessment was based on the value of the land alone. When the structure was added, their tax bill tripled, Dunn writes.
Worse yet, the couple hasn’t saved a dime for the future, Dunn writes. If you’ve given up vacations, new clothes and dining out to live in your new home, you are probably OK, Dunn writes. If you’ve given up your current and future stability, you’re in trouble, he says.
Dunn’s rule of thumb: don’t let the bank tell you how much house you can afford. Being house-rich and cash-poor is not a good situation, especially if housing values plummet, as they did in 2008. Your house is a significant investment, but don’t rely on the equity in it to secure your future. You need to be saving and investing regularly.
The folks who have a comfortable retirement are those who lived BELOW their means, and socked money away. If you buy or build a house, make sure your mortgage payment and other expenses leave a portion of your paycheck left over to save and invest.
Taking vacations and dining out occasionally are nice, too, but saving and investing for retirement are a priority.
Of course, there are ways to earn extra money so you can live in that dream house. For one of the best, visit www.bign.com/pbilodeau. You’ll see stories of people who bought their dream home, but not until they had the money – often the cash – to do it.
Remember, too, that homeownership is not for everyone. Though the American Dream may dictate that one owns his own home, give some thought to the life you want to lead before deciding to buy or build. That house could own you, in more ways than one.
In short, do the math before buying or building a home. Make sure the house doesn’t eat too much of your net worth. If you tap out your emergency fund for that down payment, it could come back to bite you.
Just because you think you CAN swing it, doesn’t mean that you SHOULD.
Peter

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