Have you been thinking about buying a home recently? If so, you’ve probably asked yourself time and time again whether or not you’re actually ready to buy. After all, deciding to become a homeowner is a huge commitment. It makes sense to want to be certain before taking the plunge. The question that many struggle with is how to tell if now is the right time.

If you’re in a similar situation, you’re in luck. We’ve come up with three questions to help you determine whether or not you’re actually ready to buy. Read them over and ask yourself each one in turn. Then, be honest with your responses. If you’re truthful with yourself, these questions should settle the debate of whether or not it’s time for you to enter the market.

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ready to buy

Consider your financial stability first. Image:

Are you financially ready to buy?

Making sure you’re financially ready to buy a home is one of the smartest things that you can do before diving into the market. The reality is, getting approved to become a homeowner requires a certain amount of financial stability. Plus, owning a home comes with many costs of its own. You’ll want to be sure that you’re on solid financial ground before diving into the market.

When mortgage companies look at whether or not someone is qualified to buy a home, they focus on four key factors. They are:

  • Two years of W-2s:  Ideally, from the same company. This shows that you have a stable source of income with which you can pay back the mortgage.
  • A good credit score: These days, mortgage companies are looking for a score of 540 or higher for FHA loans and 620 or higher for conventional loans.
  • Low debt overall: To get approved for a mortgage, you need to have a debt-to-income ratio below 36 percent. To find this figure, add up all your monthly debt payments and divide that number by your total monthly income.
  • A savings account: In order to buy a house, you’ll need to make a down payment (3 to 20 percent of the sale price) and pay closing costs (1 to 2 percent of the sale price). Make sure you have enough saved to cover those costs.

If you don’t quite have all of these things in line yet, that’s okay. You may have to wait a bit longer to become a homeowner. In the end, though, shoring up your financials will pay off big time. Start improving by working to pay down your debts, especially credit cards. Then, work towards building up your savings.

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area

Make sure you’re happy with the area. Image:

Do you know where you want to be?

Location is one of the most crucial components of house hunting. After all, it’s the one thing about a property that can’t ever really be changed, no matter how much time, effort or sweat equity you’re willing to put in. With that in mind, make absolutely sure that you’re satisfied with the area where you intend to put down roots.

As for how to go about this, the first thing you can do is start researching on your own. Look up a few areas where you may want to focus your search. Delve into factors like crime rates, the quality of the school district, walkability and public transportation access.

Once you have a few target areas in mind, set up a tour for yourself. Visit the area and mull over whether or not you could see yourself living there for an extended period of time. Keep an eye out for important amenities like grocery stores, gyms or nail salons.

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stability

Think about whether or not life changes are approaching. Image:

Is your life fairly stable?

This is a big one. Even if you’re focusing on buying a starter home, conventional wisdom states that, in order for the move to make financial sense, you should plan on living there for at least the next five years. In light of that, if you’re debating whether or not you’re ready to buy your first home, ask yourself: Will your life change much in the next five years?

Then, be honest with yourself. Think about whether you’d be open to taking new employment opportunities, even if they required you to make a long-distance move. Think about your current relationship status. Do you want to move in together, get married or start a family?

If you don’t think your life is going to change too much in the near future, you’re likely in a good place to buy a home. However, if you feel that one or more of the big changes above may happen to you, you might want to hold off on buying for a bit.