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The True Cost of Homeownership: How Much Money Do You Really Need to Buy a House?

The True Cost of Homeownership: How Much Money Do You Really Need to Buy a House?

Are you considering purchasing a home and wondering how much money you need to buy a house? Homeownership is a significant commitment, and it's critical to understand the actual cost of owning a home before taking the plunge.

The short answer to this homeownership question is that it depends on several factors, including the type of house you are looking for, where you are looking for a home, and how much down payment you can make.

Let's break down some of the basics for understanding the cost of homeownership.


how much do you need to purchase a home

How Much Money Do You Need to Buy a House?

Let's look at the basic costs associated with purchasing a home. From putting a down payment to closing costs, several different elements go into the overall cost of buying a house.

How Much Do You Need To Have Saved For a Down Payment

The first and most apparent is the down payment. Most lenders require at least 20%-25% down on a home loan. This means that you need to have 20%-25% of the purchase price available in cash to put down a down payment on the home.

However, this is not necessarily set in stone. Many loan programs available can help you cover your down payment, such as FHA loans, VA loans, and USDA loans, which require a much smaller down payment. Also, your down payment will also be affected by your credit score. Some lenders may have a lower down payment of around 15% for those with a credit score above 720.

Closing Costs: What You Need to Know

Closing costs refer to the fees you will be charged by the lender related to your loan. These can include processing fees, appraisal fees, title insurance, and other various charges that are necessary for completing your loan. Generally speaking, closing costs range from 2%-5% of the total loan amount. So if you are taking out a $200,000 loan, you can expect to pay around $4,000-$10,000 in closing costs.

Keep in mind, closing costs can vary from state to state. So if you're purchasing a home in Santa Ana, CA or Springfield, MA, your closing might differ. It is important to research the closing costs in your area before making a purchase.

Additional Costs To Consider When Buying A Home

In to the down payment and closing costs, there are a few other important expenses you should factor in when estimating your total cost of homeownership. These can include:

  • Homeowners insurance – It is important to have an adequate amount of coverage for your home. A homeowner's average premium is around $1400 per year for a policy with a $250,000 dwelling coverage.
  • Property taxes – Property taxes can vary from state to state and even county to county. The average property tax rate in the United States is 1.08%. So a home with an assessed value of $200k would have an annual property tax bill of about $2160. However, a home purchased in California would be subject to a property tax rate of 0.71%, resulting in a lower tax bill of about $1420. You can use an online calculator to get an estimate of your property taxes based in the area you're purchasing in.
  • Private Mortgage Insurance – If your initial down payment is less than 20%, then it's likely that you will have to pay for private mortgage insurance (PMI). PM is insurance that covers default on and typically costs around 0.%-2% of the total loan amount. So if you're taking out a $200,000 loan, expect to pay anywhere from $2,000-$4,000 in PMI.
  • Home Maintenance – If you're a first-time homebuyer, this is something that can easily be overlooked. Factor in the cost of regular maintenance and repairs for your home. An HVAC system may need replacing every 10 years or so, as well as a hot water heater and other appliances. You should also budget in for an annual home inspection so you can catch any potential problems early on.
  • Moving Expenses - You may need to rent a truck or hire movers depending on how far you're moving and the amount of items you have. The average cost of a local move (hiring a moving company) is around $900-$2500 for moves under 100 miles. Get a few moving quotes ahead of time to factor this cost into your home purchase budget.
  • Flood Insurance - Love the water? Flood insurance may be in your future. For those purchasing a property near water, it is important to factor in the cost of flood insurance. Flood insurance can range from $300-$2000 per year depending on your location and the amount of coverage you need.

Purchase Price - How Much Can I Afford?

One of the most important questions to ask yourself when purchasing a home is how much can I afford? Your mortgage lender will be able to provide you with an estimate based on your income and current debts. Generally speaking, it is recommended that you should not spend more than 30% of your gross monthly income on your housing expenses (including principal, interest, taxes and insurance). This has been a popular rul of thumb for many years. By sticking to this rule, you'll have enough money left over in your budget to cover the other costs associated with homeownership.

View our mortgage calculator to see what mortgage payment you can afford.

Purchasing A House With a Top Real Estate Agent

A good Realtor can guide you through the entire process, from searching for homes to negotiating an offer. They can also provide valuable insight into the local housing market and answer any questions about buying a home. A top realtor like Pedro Alvarez in Santa Ana, CA can help you navigate the local housing market, assist you with the home buying process, including finding the perfect home, negotiating an offer and closing the sale.

In conclusion, buying a home can be an incredibly exciting and rewarding experience if you are prepared for it. Research your state's closing cost requirement and make sure to factor in all the expenses associated with homeownership before making an offer. Be sure to also find a top realtor in your area to help you with the process. With these tips, you are sure to be ready for the home-buying journey ahead of you!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best age to buy your first house? 

The best age to buy your first home is when you have the financial stability and resources to do so. It is important to be prepared financially for the expenses that come with homeownership, such as mortgage payments, closing costs, taxes, insurance and maintenance.

What is the fastest way to save for a house?

The fastest way to save to purchase a home is to set a budget and stick to it. Use income from any sources available, such as employment or investments, and begin setting aside money for your down payment. You can also look into grants or special programs that may be offered in your area to assist with the purchase of a home. Additionally, establishing an emergency fund and paying off any debt can help you save for a house faster.

What is the minimum down payment required to buy a house?

The minimum down payment required to buy a house will depend on the type of loan you are getting and the lender you are working with. Generally speaking, most mortgage lenders require a minimum of 5% down payment. However, some lenders may require as much as 20%. It is important to research different loan programs and lenders to find the best option for you.

What Should My Monthly Mortgage Payment Be?

The percentage of your mortgage payment to your income depends on your financial situation and the type of loan you get. Generally speaking, as mentioned in this article, it is recommended that you should not spend more than 30% of your gross monthly income on your housing expenses (including principal, interest, taxes and insurance).

What if I can't afford a house?

If you're researching how much money do you need to buy a house and you're realizing that you may not have enough for a down payment, closing costs or that the mortgage payment may be outside your budget, do not worry. Creating a goal to save for a house and sticking to it can help you build your funds. You can also reach out to mortgage lenders, financial planners and local realtors to start planning for a future purchase.

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