Real Estate Rebound: Time to Buy a Home?

 As the real estate market starts to climb out of the doldrums and consumer demand begins to increase, you may be thinking of buying. Before you start a house hunt, let’s take a look at some general financial planning rules with regards to what could be the biggest purchase of your life.

Picking Your Price Point

Probably the most important rule to keep in mind when you are deciding which house is right for you is determining what you can afford.   The general rule of thumb is that your principal, interest, taxes, and insurance (commonly referred to as PITI) should not exceed 28% of your gross income.  So to put that into perspective, if your total household income is $100,000 ($8,333/month), you should try to keep the PITI to no greater then $2,333 (28% of $8,333).   Please keep in mind this is a general rule and not an absolute truth.  To make a truly responsible financial decision, you should have a good understanding of your monthly cash flow and determine how much of that $2,333 you can take on without being “house poor”. 

Unless It’s Long Term, Rent

Length of time you plan to be in the home is also a big consideration.  In fact, if you plan on being in the home less then 5 years it’s probably better just to rent. The reason for this is in the first 5 years of a typical amortization schedule, you hardly pay down the principal.  The majority of your monthly payment is going to interest and, unless there is substantial appreciation in the real estate market over that 5-year period, you probably won’t have much equity in the home when you try to sell it.

Prepare for PMI

If you aren’t putting 20% down, then you’re probably going to be subject to private mortgage insurance (PMI), which will increase your monthly payment.  Once you have 20% equity in the home, and a period of two years has passed since the initial purchase date, you can apply to have PMI removed from the loan.  Until that time, you need to be prepared for the additional burden on cash flow.

Moving isn’t cheap! 

The average moving company charges between $1,000 and $5,000 for transporting all your precious possessions from one house to the next so plan on setting aside a little cash for this expense.

Most Common Questions

Purchasing a new home can be fun, but it can also be very stressful. Some common questions that we get a lot from our clients at The Center are:

  • Where do I take the money from for the down payment?
  • Should I do a 15 or 30-year loan?
  • How much should I put down on this house?

Whether this is your first house or your tenth, take a deep breath and be sure to consult with trusted advisors. When you talk through all of these issues, it’s easier to decide if it really is your time to start shopping for a new home sweet home.

Matthew Trujillo is a Registered Support Associate at Center for Financial Planning, Inc. Matt currently assists Center planners and clients, and is a contributor to Money Centered.


The foregoing information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that it is accurate or complete, it is not a statement of all available data necessary for making an investment decision, and it does not constitute a recommendation. Any opinions are those of Center for Financial Planning, Inc. and not necessarily those of Raymond James. C14-009197