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Should You Get a Mortgage or Keep Renting?

Many people dream of owning a home. They do whatever they can to scrape together a down payment on a mortgage loan and work many years to pay it off. But should you buy a home or continue to rent? Here are some things to consider.

  1. Are you ready for the responsibility? Owning a home involves a variety of chores and financial investments. Are you ready to do yard work, home repairs, and other tasks that you currently don’t have to think about because you have a landlord? If you are not willing to do the work, or can’t afford to pay someone else to do it, you may not be ready for homeownership.
  2. Do you have enough saved up for a down payment on a home loan? The larger the down payment, the smaller your monthly payments are going to be. Mortgage lenders also look more favorably on people who have a sizable down payment, healthy income, and low levels of debt.
  3. Have you done your homework to understand the different types of mortgage products available? Just because your friend got a 15-year mortgage loan doesn’t mean that’s the right product for you. Knowledge is power and can keep you from getting into the wrong type of mortgage.
  4. Do you need assistance from a first-time homebuyer program in your community? You may be able to get free advice from a housing counselor or help with a down payment.
  5. Do you plan to use the first-time homebuyer tax credit? If so, you need to have a contract on a home before May 1, 2010, and must close on the home before July 1, 2010. If you qualify for the tax credit, you could receive up to $8,000.
  6. Have you shopped around for mortgage quotes to get an idea of how much you can borrow? Compare offers from several mortgage lenders before choosing one to do business with.
  7. Have you carefully researched the neighborhood you want to move to? Have a real estate agent do a comparative analysis of homes that are similar to what you want to purchase. Ask about foreclosure rates in the area and whether there is any data on how many homes are underwater on mortgages.

There are a lot of things to consider before taking the leap from renting to homeownership. Avoid feeling pressured to buy a home because everyone tells you that is the American dream. You may be content to continue renting a while. Consider all your options carefully so that you have no regrets in the future.

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