Does the smell of fresh-cut grass make you yearn for a yard of your own?
Does your idea of a relaxing Sunday afternoon involve working on a car or building a DIY pegboard in your garage?
Do you dream of a house with a white picket fence?
Maybe you’ve noticed that you’re slowly becoming the resident grumpy person. You shake your fist at your night owl neighbors with their too-loud music. Or you knock on your ceiling with a broomstick in response to heavy footsteps. If any of these things describe you, then the idea of owning your home is probably starting to sound great.
But liking the idea doesn’t necessarily mean you’re ready to sign your name to a 30-year commitment. If you’re trying to decide if you’re ready to buy a house, here are some solid indicators that it’s time to move out of your apartment and into a home of your own.
1. You’ve called in a noise complaint more than twice
You’re tired. You’re frustrated. All you want is a good night’s sleep. But your work-hard-play-harder-until-4-AM neighbors insist on keeping you awake at night with their bass-heavy music and boisterous laughter.
Paper-thin walls are a common grievance among apartment dwellers. Maybe at first it was funny to hear your neighbor’s shower serenades, or convenient to be woken up by someone else’s alarm clock.
But if what was once a minor nuisance has become a major point of discord, especially to the extent that your sleep and well-being are affected, then that might be a sign that renting an apartment is no longer working for you.
2. Beige walls are making you blue
Have you started to suspect that your apartment’s neutral walls are making you tense, anxious, or restless?
You’re not crazy. Paint color is known to affect mood. For instance, blue can have a calming effect, and red is known to be energizing. But despite common advice to stay safe by painting walls with versatile neutrals, too many neutrals can have a negative effect on your mood.
If you’ve been experiencing the overwhelming urge to finally personalize your home without having to worry about filling holes and painting over walls when you move out, then begin your hunt for a permanent living space.
3. You’re spending time and money on repairs
It’s 2 AM and your toilet is running. Do you take the lid off the tank and start tinkering until it stops? Or do you immediately call your property manager?
If you prefer to hold someone else responsible for even the smallest of home repairs, then it’s not the time to purchase a house.
Owning a home means that you’re in charge of maintaining it – including all of the unpleasant tasks, such as unclogging a toilet, cleaning a 10-year accumulation of hair out of a shower drain, or replacing a part in a broken dishwasher.
If you’re a handy do-it-yourselfer who prefers to roll up your sleeves and take care of things (or you can afford to pay a professional to do it) then you might be ready to own a home.
4. You feel cramped
Is your bedroom more “bed” than “room?” Have you already tried all the storage hacks and space-saving furniture out there, yet you still feel overwhelmed by clutter? These are signs that you need to move into a bigger house.
Storage can be a great short-term solution, especially if you’re going through a transitional period and need to get situated before you’re ready to move all of your things into a permanent home.
It also gives you a chance to “clear the air” and then gradually move your belongings back into your new home, evaluating each trinket or piece of furniture to keep it around or donate It.
5. You’re not going anywhere
You finished school. You finished paying Sallie Mae back. You settled into a job you love. You have go-to restaurants and the barista at your local coffee shop knows exactly how you like your latte.
Maybe you’ll have kids one day. And you know that if you do, the schools in your area are fantastic.
But before you sign your name to a 30-year contract, be sure that you’re ready to live in the area long-term.
If you’re positive you’re not going to move in the near future, purchasing a home in your neighborhood could set you up for years of happiness.
6. You’re ready to start investing
It’s dawned on you that all this time you’ve been sending your rent checks out into the abyss, you could have been investing them in your own property.
You’ve done the math, and the equity you could have been building with your rent checks makes you hyperventilate.
Purchasing a house is an expensive process. But if your finances are sound and you’re already thinking in terms of long-term investment, taking the first steps toward home ownership just makes sense. Which brings me to sign #7 …
7. Your finances are in order
Have you been in your current job for at least a year?
Do you save at least 15-20% of every paycheck instead of betting it all on cryptocurrency?
Are you focused on organizing your finances to plan for the future?
These are important stepping stones toward owning a home.
It’s not enough that you have the income to meet your mortgage payments (here’s a mortgage calculator). You should understand how much you can really afford and also have plenty of cash ready for a down payment and other expenses.
Many people are surprised to learn how much money is involved in purchasing a home. Inspection costs, earnest money, closing costs, and initial repairs can easily add up to several thousand dollars. Be prepared.
This article was written by Phil Karp. Phil leads Brokerage Services at Owners.com, where you can save money buying your first home. Phil prides himself in educating first-time homebuyers to prepare them for an upgrade from apartment living. He owns his own home in the Greater Atlanta area, where he resides with his wife and rescue dog.