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By John R. Merlino Jr. Esq.
Founding Attorney

Q: What should I know before buying a home?

New York and New Jersey real estate attorneys help clients purchase their first home, upgrade to a larger home, and downsize to something smaller. Often, their first contact with a prospective homebuyer happens after they have already found what they think is the home of their dreams and are ready to go into contract.

Sometimes, first-time home buyers, especially younger ones, may not have considered all the factors that go into home ownership before picking out the house – which could mean trouble or regret down the line.

What do first-time homebuyers need to consider before buying a home?

In addition to actually wanting to buy a home, there are several financial considerations to factor in to determine if now is a good time to purchase one:

  • Your job stability. Do you expect to stay in your current job for several years? Will your job be relocating in the near future? Can you easily find another comparable job and salary in your industry and area?
  • Your income. How much money can you afford to pay for housing and still afford other necessary expenses for a reasonably enjoyable life? Will you have money left for things that are important to you, such as vacations or education goals? Many first-time buyers who don’t do their homework on the financials become “cash poor and house rich” as nearly every dime they earn goes into the mortgage and maintenance costs of the home. Also, more money is needed to buy a home over and above the mortgage. Have you saved or have access to additional money for the down payment and closing costs? These costs can be substantial, especially when buying a home in the New York City area.
  • Your debt. Do you have a good credit history? Does your current debt impact your ability to qualify for a mortgage? Have you been prequalified for a mortgage? And if so, will you be happy with a home in that price range or should you wait longer to afford a better one?
  • Your future expenses. Will potential upcoming large expenses like having a baby, buying a car, or continuing with higher education impact your ability to pay the mortgage? Car payments, daycare, and college costs can be substantial as is the loss of a salary if one parent chooses to stay home for a baby or stops working to go back to school.

While most parents mean well and offer good advice, the financial realities of home ownership—and the American Dream itself—has changed since the days when they bought their first home decades ago. Compared to their parents, today’s first-time home buyers often marry and start families later, if at all, and have excessive student loans and credit card debt that may impact their home buying experience. While it may be a bit nerve-racking, buying a home In New York, there are many benefits to doing so.

Reasons Home Ownership May Be Better Than Renting

While tenants are subject to annual rent increases and evictions and are restricted in decorating, homeowners’ mortgage payments are fixed and they can live in their homes and renovate them as they please forever.

Renters will always pay rent—forever—without reaping any profit from it, but homeowners’ mortgages will eventually be paid off and over the years they gain equity as they pay the mortgage down and the home’s value generally rises.

If you are interested in buying a home in New York or New Jersey, or want to sell one, the real estate attorneys at Merino & Gonzalez can help you. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

From our offices in Staten Island, New York, and East Brunswick, New Jersey, we help clients in both states in all aspects of real estate law.

About the Author
John is a fierce advocate and the office guru for problem-solving and brainstorming. He guides clients through every stage of a real estate transaction from offer to contract, navigating through nerve-shattering home inspection and title clearance concerns, maintaining constant contact with lenders, conducting the actual closing, and continuing to advise clients with regard to any post-closing concerns.  John brings a practical and fair-minded approach to the process which has earned him the respect of his clients and peers.