You may have loved your home when you first moved in, but over the years your feelings have changed.
You start to dream about another setting for your household -- on the beach, in the sky, on a golf course. You dream about a downstairs master suite, a bigger yard, an open kitchen -- something you don't have about your home right now.
So how do you know it's time to make a move? Here are three tests to help you make a decision:
1. You can afford to move.
Affording a new home means you have enough for a down payment (between 10 to 20 percent), your income and credit are good enough to qualify for a bigger loan, and your debt-to-income ratio is below 36 to 40 percent. You should also be able to comfortably handle moving costs, homeowner's association fees or maintenance costs for your new home. When you run the numbers, be sure to include higher mortgage payments, including higher hazard insurance and property tax escrows.
2. You can sell your home easily.
Your home is worth more than your current mortgage, to the point that you can easily cover approximately eight percent of the sales price for closing costs. You're willing to spend the money and/or time to put your home in top condition for marketing, especially for repairs and updates that will help you sell faster in the current market. You're prepared to do the dirty work of cleaning, decluttering, and staging your home. Most important, you're willing to price your home for the current market.
3. You can improve your quality of life.
It's not just about the costs; it's about how you want to live your life. Having more space is one of the most important things to homebuyers. A bigger kitchen can mean quality time cooking with your spouse. A different neighborhood can mean better access to friends, family, an easier commute, better schools or other benefits and amenities. Ultimately, you want your next home to solve problems for you, like giving you more room for your growing family.
Think carefully about the pros and cons of moving. Most real estate professionals would suggest that you sell your home before you buy a new one, but you also need to have a plan and know where you're going.
It's easy to jump online and look at homes for sale and run mortgage calculators to see what you can afford, but until you talk to a real estate professional and learn what your home is likely worth, you won't have the information you need to make a decision.
Together, you can run the numbers -- how much you can clear, how much you need to spend to make your home market-ready, and how much you'd have available to put down on your next home.