Since the cost of housing is perhaps the greatest expense you’ll ever incur, you must study your personal situation, research the possibilities, and pray for the Lord’s guidance in order to make educated decisions about what’s right for you.
CONSIDER THE VARIABLES
One decision you’ll face in your search for housing is whether to buy or rent, which depends on how much you can afford to spend. And the only sure way to determine your spending limit is to live on a budget. With a budget, you know how much is coming in, how much is going out, and areas in which you can cut costs. This allows you to take the monthly amount you’d be paying on a certain house and try fitting that amount into your budget. It should be stated at the outset that buying a house without first checking your budget can place a tremendous financial burden on your family. The resulting stress can destroy your relationship with your spouse.
Of course, buying a house within your budget may require you to settle for a smaller house than you desire. But one thing’s for sure: The less you owe on your house, the faster you can pay it off. Then, you can take the money you were using to make payments and invest it for your children’s college or for retirement. The state of our nation’s economy is another reason to pay off your house early. The continuous buildup of federal debt must eventually produce severe economic consequences. The people with the greatest amount of debt at that time will be likely to suffer most as a result of these consequences.
Thus, we may conclude that living on a budget is the first step in buying a house. But even though your financial situation will be the major factor in determining what type of housing you need, there are other factors that must be considered. Prayerfully give these questions some thought.
1. Is your job secure enough for you to start making a mortgage payment? If not, consider renting instead of buying a house.
2. How long do you plan to stay in the area? If you know you will be staying in the community for at least five years, house ownership may be a good option.
3. What is the economy like in the area you are considering? Is the area growing substantially, and will the house appreciate? You don’t want to be stuck with a house that you can’t sell because of a poor economy.
4. What is the cost of living in the new area? If it is high, it will definitely affect your budget and may change the amount you can afford for housing.
After answering these questions, take the amount you can spend for housing and determine if house payments, including taxes and insurance, upkeep, and maintenance would be equal to or less than rental payments for a similar house in the same area. If they would be, then buying a house may be a wise choice.
RENTING A HOUSE
If you’ve decided that renting a house is a better option for you at this time, there are several things to consider. First, decide what type of dwelling you want to rent.You can rent a house, apartment, town house, mobile home, or even a room or suite in someone else’s house. The people in your church are often a good source of information about availability, location, and cost of rentals around the area.
BUYING A HOUSE
If you’ve decided that buying a house fits into your budget and is in your best interest long term, you can begin to look at the options available to you. Included in these options are new and used houses and condominiums.
First you will need to decide whether you want to purchase a new or used house. The advantages of purchasing a new house are that you can design the interior of your house to fit your individual needs. But new houses also have a big disadvantage. With few exceptions, those who bought a new house end up spending more than they planned to spend. Changes made, i.e. renovation, while the house is still new cost a lot of money, and it takes considerable time and mental effort to oversee the renovation of a new house.With used houses, there are several advantages. You know exactly what the house is going to cost and you can get more extras.
Used houses may come with curtains, curtain rods, towel racks, ceiling fans, lights in the closets, light bulbs, built-in cabinet, renovated kitchen/dining area, and occasionally appliances (air-conds, entertainment, fridge, washing machine etc). Be sure the contract states exactly which items will come with the house. One disadvantage of a used house is that it will likely have some wear and tear, which means repairs. The older the house is, the more repairs it’s likely to need. You should always check the heating and air conditioning, roof, water heater, kitchen cabinet, and appliances to see if they are in working condition. You may choose to hire a house inspection service to do this for you.
After the house has been checked, you can decide whether to purchase the house as is or back out of the deal.
This type of a house can be purchased at a relatively lower cost than other used houses. But you’ll need to take into consideration the extra funds for repairs, which will be in addition to the normal housing allocation. Be sure to have the house checked thoroughly, including foundations, roof, plumbing,and wiring, so you’ll know exactly what is wrong with the house before you buy it.
Another option is a condominium. You need to be aware of some additional costs involved above the purchase price, such as maintenance fees and club fees. Be aware that the maintenance fees are subject to change each year, and you have no control over them. This is not a bad option, especially if you don’t want to bother with yardwork.
Now that you’ve decided what type of house you want to buy, you need to decide how to pay for it. In order to serve God in the very best way, the goal of all Christians should be to become debt free—including their homes. If you choose to borrow money to purchase the house, you should make it your goal to pay the house off as soon as possible.
The best way to buy a house is to pay cash, provided you are financially able to do so. The idea of owning a house debt free is not a new one; in fact, it’s quite ancient. Most families used to own their houses, and those who didn’t were abnormal. Couples who couldn’t afford the large house they wanted followed a procedure that young couples need to follow today.
1. Buy a smaller house;
2. Put a great deal of time and effort into it, thereby improving its value;
3. Sell it; and
4. Buy the next larger size house.
Eventually, these couples got their dream house without going into debt.
Remember: Patience is the key, as the bible says "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23)