Are you a first-time home-buyer eager to get out of apartment living and buy your very own house? Whatever you do, don’t rush into things and follow these simple steps to help you decide whether you’re ready to take the plunge.

  1. Always check the selling prices of comparable homes in your area and neighborhood by searching actual multiple listing service, or MLS, listings in your area on a number of websites, including the National Association of Realtors.
  2. Use Bankrate’s mortgage calculator to get an idea of what your monthly mortgage payments would be if you bought today.
  3. Calculate your total monthly housing cost, including taxes and homeowners insurance because in some areas, what you pay for your taxes and insurance escrow will almost double your mortgage payment.
  4. Determine what your closing costs will be.  Closing costs can include origination fees charged by the lender, title and settlement fees, taxes and prepaid items like homeowners insurance or homeowners’ association fees and shouldn’t be overlooked during the purchase process.
  5. Review your budget and determine how a house fits into it. Fannie Mae recommends that buyers spend no more than 28 percent of their income on housing costs. Go much past 30 percent and you risk becoming house poor.
  6. Buying a house is a great way to build wealth, maintaining your investment but can be labor-intensive and expensive.  Always remember to look at the big picture before inking the deal.

When unexpected costs for new appliances, residential roofing repairs and plumbing problems crop up, there’s no landlord to turn to, and these costs can quickly drain your bank account. Make sure you hire a thorough home inspector. If the house you are wanting to buy has a bad roof or other “large” repairs like foundation issues, you need to either choose another house or have the homeowners make the repairs.  Erie Construction of Evansville, Indiana is a trusted leader in the industry and would be happy to come out and take a look at the house you’re interested in, and give the homeowners a fair price on repairs. So the bottom line is that you need to take things slow. Consider whether you’re ready for the expense and effort of home ownership before pulling the trigger.