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Is now the right time to buy your first house – or upgrade to a new one? Don’t do anything until you do this.

Red SHOES Financial Wellness Program

Spring is a great time for fresh starts and new beginnings. And what feels more fresh start-y than being on the hunt for a house?

But before you get caught up in the excitement of more closet space, a shorter commute or whatever puts you in your housing happy place, we strongly encourage you to do these four things.

1. Take a good look at your life.  Is now a good time for you – and your family – to change your living arrangements? Sure, buying or upgrading a house is fun on lots of levels but the process requires time and energy. And even things that could make a home purchase seem like a no-brainer (you’re about to have a baby and are living in a tiny one-bedroom apartment) could require a second look. For instance, maybe having a baby means one of the parents will only be working part-time or the expense of daycare means your budget can’t handle one more thing!

And there are plenty of other situations that could make you pause and pass on the idea of a big move. Maybe your job feels a little shaky, you’ve had some health changes or your high school senior isn’t so big on switching schools. Or maybe you’re just not that excited about spending your free time maintaining a house and yard.

2. Consider what it will really costs to move in. Moving to a different house has lots of obvious costs – the ones related to the home purchase and the move itself. But there are lots of not-so-obvious costs too. Here are just a few to think about: furniture and home furnishings, tools for lawn and home maintenance/repair, appliances, (potentially) higher insurance costs and real estate taxes. And if you’re currently renting, be sure to wrap your head around the reality that you’ll no longer have a landlord to call when the plumbing fails or the roof springs a leak.

3. Figure out if you’ll still be able to contribute to your savings. Buying a house shouldn’t mean putting your savings goals on hold. You still need a nest egg. You still need to plan for retirement. You still need to think about your kids’ college. And, as we already discussed in #2, home ownership can mean unexpected costs – so it’s more important than ever to have emergency savings.

4. Get preapproved.  Know how much mortgage you can qualify for before the hunt begins. This gives you a budget to work against and might convince a seller to go with you if there are multiple offers on your dream house. And (bonus!) your Summit preapproval is absolutely free and Summit’s mortgage experts are just waiting to help.

Gone through all four steps and ready to own your new home-sweet-home? Congratulations and count on Summit to help you make it happen!