Ask McEnearney Jean Beatty 4.22.21

If you are a first-time home buyer, the idea of purchasing a home may feel daunting. A sense of permanence seems to be attached to every home purchase. At the end of the day though, you have to live somewhere.

The earlier that you buy your first home, the better. You are going to be paying to live wherever you live so you might as well put your money into an investment that will likely grow in value over the years. When you purchase a home, you are not just paying the mortgage, but building equity.

I have developed three questions to help my buyers determine whether they are ready to buy their first home.

1. How long do I plan to live here?

Renting makes the most sense when you are only planning to stay in the area for the short term, or if you are new to the area and unsure of where you want to live. If you think you are going to be in the area for longer than a year, you should probably take the plunge and purchase a home. Since interest rates are still so low, there has never been a better time to buy even if you only plan on staying in your house for a few years.

2. Do you have a steady job?

Nowadays, a steady job doesn’t necessarily mean working from 9 to 5. As long as you can show the mortgage lender that you have a reliable income, then you should be able to apply for a loan. Only a mortgage lender can say what size loan you are qualified for, but you won’t know what that is until you ask.

3. Do you have a little bit of savings?

The biggest misconception that first-time homebuyers have is that you need a 20% down payment to buy your first home. While this might be true to avoid Private Mortgage Insurance, or PMI, some conventional loans will allow you to purchase with a 3% down payment. The PMI will then be incorporated into your monthly loan payment.

Even though some loans only require 3% down, it is good to have a little bit of money in savings or in investments that can be liquidated so that you can pay for closing costs, moving fees and new furniture when you move into your new home.

If you answered “yes” to these three questions, it might be time to reach out to a Realtor and see what options are out there. Home ownership can be a very rewarding experience. After all, there’s no place like home!

Jean Beatty is a licensed real estate agent in VA, MD, and DC with McEnearney Associates Realtors® in McLean, VA. If you would like more information on selling or buying in today's complex market, contact Jean at 301-641-4149 or visit her website

If you would like a question answered in our weekly column or to set up an appointment with one of our Associates, please email: or call 703.549.9292.

McEnearney Associates Realtors®, 109 S. Pitt Street, Alexandria, VA 22314. Equal Housing Opportunity. #WeAreMcEnearney

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