If you are contemplating buying your first home, you must carefully evaluate your financial situation and understand what you would be getting into. Money is not the only operative factor in this equation either; there is much more to homeownership than mortgage payments, property taxes and the cost of furnishings. Homeownership is a life decision, and it will affect almost every aspect of your life in one way or another.

Buying and moving into a home is a vastly different proposition than moving into a rental house or apartment. If you discover that you don't like your surroundings as a renter, then you will only have a lease agreement to contend with if you decide to move. Changing houses is obviously a much different proposition, as this requires you to go through the entire home sale and purchase process all over again. Most financial experts will also tell you that you will have to stay in your house for anywhere from two to six years in order to make up for all of the initial closing costs and other expenses that inevitably arise when you buy a home.

One of the biggest disadvantages of homeownership is that there is no landlord to call when something needs to be fixed. Keeping your home structurally and mechanically sound and maintaining an attractive property can cost you thousands of dollars above and beyond your normal upkeep expenses and also require a major commitment of time and effort. Some of the major maintenance projects that you may face include:

Repainting Your House
Your home will likely need a new coat of paint at some point, either inside or out. If you have this done professionally, you can usually expect to pay at least two thousand dollars, depending upon the size of your house and the amount of work that it will take to do the job. Doing this job yourself will be a major undertaking.

Replacing Your Roof
This is one project that you will not likely be able to do yourself. The average cost of a roof can easily range around $10,000 to $15,000, and the price depends upon the type of roof and type of shingles that are used.

Foundation Problems
Foundational erosion and collapse is every homeowner's worst nightmare, and fixing this problem isn't going to be cheap. Mud jacking can cost thousands of dollars if the problem is severe.

  • Plumbing and electrical repairs
  • Furnace and air conditioner repairs and replacements

  • Treatments for termites and other pests

Relationship Security
Your pocketbook is not the only thing that needs to be healthy before you buy a home. If you are married or in a domestic partnership, you need to evaluate the stability of your relationship before you commit to purchasing a home together. When two people who live in an apartment together divorce or break up, one of them simply moves out. When two people are listed on the title deed for a residence, getting one of them removed is much more complicated. When this happens, the person who stays must shoulder the entire cost of the home by him or herself (albeit with the help of child support or alimony in many cases). If you are having problems in your marriage or other relationship, then you need to seriously consider where the two of you will be in five or ten years. If you think that there's a good chance that you will split up, then homeownership should be approached with caution.

Personal Health
If you have physical or mental limitations that may prevent you from being able to perform normal maintenance tasks on your home, then you need to have a clear idea of how you will accomplish these things before you sign on the dotted line. If your health is in decline, then buying a fixer-upper is probably not a good idea unless you can clearly afford to pay for all of the repairs and maintenance.

The Bottom Line
Buying a home requires a certain level of emotional and mental maturity. The ability to think ahead and foresee possible problems down the road is key before making the commitment, especially for first-home buyers.

Related Articles
  1. Professionals

    7 Tips for Year-End Financial Planning

    There is always a rush to get financial planning tasks done at year's end. Here are some tips to help ease the crunch.
  2. Professionals

    Top Tips for Helping Clients Through a Divorce

    It may take a delicate touch to properly assist clients who are going through a divorce. Here are some tips.
  3. Professionals

    How to Protect Retirement and Help Adult Kids

    Parents can both protect their retirement money and help their adult kids. Here's how.
  4. Retirement

    5 Ways to Use Your Home to Retire

    Retirement is going to cost a lot, and for homeowners who face a shortfall, their home can be a source of income. From downsizing to renting, here's how.
  5. Home & Auto

    5 Luxurious Ways to Boost Your Home's Resale Value

    Not all renovations are created equal. Here are five that are most likely to make a property appreciate (and be appreciated by househunters).
  6. Personal Finance

    Choosing An In-Home Safe: Features To Look For

    What to look for in a box to protect your irreplaceable belongings.
  7. Retirement

    This Is How You Could Live in Costa Rica for $1,000 a Month

    Explore the cost of living in Costa Rica, and learn how you could sustain a nice middle-class lifestyle for yourself on about $1,000 a month.
  8. Professionals

    3 Benefits of Working Longer (and Retiring Later)

    There are many reasons why folks in their 60s may want to keep working until at least age 70. Here are three.
  9. Professionals

    How to Get Free Social Security Spousal Benefits

    Married couples should thoroughly examine whether they are eligible to collect free spousal benefits on their Social Security income.
  10. Retirement

    What Does It Cost to Retire in Costa Rica?

    Tally up the costs associated with taking your retirement in Costa Rica, and determine whether you have what it takes to live in paradise.
  1. What are the best ways to pay off my mortgage quickly?

    There are two main strategies for paying off a mortgage more quickly, which can be used alone or in tandem: making larger ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. What are the pros and cons of a simple-interest mortgage?

    The basic disadvantage of a simple interest mortgage lies in the fact that unless the borrower conscientiously makes all ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. Is a waiver of subrogation clause better for a tenant or a landlord?

    A waiver of subrogation clause is good for both a tenant and a landlord. A waiver of subrogation is a two-way agreement in ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. Is the high cost of installing solar panels justified by the money saved by going ...

    In favorable locations and under suitable conditions, homeowners can recuperate the cost of installing solar panels. The ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. If my home runs power off the grid, what is the specific environmental impact?

    Running a solar-powered home with energy that is natural or off the grid has several environmental benefits. By using solar ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. What is the key to finding your ideal mortgage?

    The key to finding your ideal mortgage is choosing the right lender. Select a lender who views lending as a collaborative ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Trading Center
You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!