Buy a Dream Home, Not a Haunted House

by Aaron May

We work, we save, and we plan all of our lives to achieve "the American Dream." Landing the dream job, getting married, and having kids helps bring the dream into focus, but hanging out in front of us is the dream of homeownership. There is nothing quite as rewarding as staking your claim on a plot of land and calling it "home."

However this dream has taken on a nightmarish dark side. We all remember the struggles many of us faced when the housing market collapsed in 2008. A study taken at the time revealed that 1 out of every 200 homes was in danger of foreclosure. Many homeowners faced a tipping point due to job loss, illness, or lack of planning, which resulted in 85 percent of respondents admitting to missing one mortgage payment and 50 percent being two months behind. To make matters worse, most of the respondents had no savings and no available credit. What was supposed to be a blessing and a claim to a stable future turned into a trap that left many scared, depressed, and angry.

While the economy has improved over the past several years, many of us still face the same financial struggles and lack of preparedness when it comes to buying a home. And truthfully, most factors that can lead to a foreclosure are avoidable with proper planning. Here are a few tips to consider. m.


Before you take on a mortgage, make sure you have counted all of the costs and are financially ready for homeownership. There is a wide array of expenses that you will face as a homeowner that go above and beyond a mortgage payment. Here are just a few: 

  • Loan preparation and closing costs - this includes all of the inspections, title insurance, and administrative fees of the purchase process, and is in addition to your down payment.
  • Additional home repair costs - you are now the landlord. If something breaks, you must pay to fix it. Creating designated savings accounts for inevitable repairs will remove much of the anxiety when the water heater breaks or the roof needs to be replaced. The key is not to spend more than you make. 


Lenders are using a mathematical formula to determine your qualification for a mortgage. They cannot accurately account for everything you truly spend money on, such as eating out, shopping, and other expenses. Make sure you have a detailed, written budget that you are following to determine what you can actually afford. A good recommendation is to keep your mortgage payment below 25 percent of your total take-home pay.

Also, practice paying your desired mortgage payment and future utilities into a savings account for a few months to make sure you are able to make the payments consistently. 

Owning a home is meant to be a blessing. Don't go into this purchase unprepared. To speak with a trusted advisor in our mortgage lending department, please visit our Online Mortgage Center .

Aaron May photo

Aaron May

Advertising Coordinator at Texas Bank and Trust

Serving as the advertising coordinator for Texas Bank and Trust, Aaron May describes his true passion as helping individuals take control of their finances. His personal journey to financial freedom gives him a unique, yet relatable, perspective on budgeting, debt management, and saving for emergencies, the future, and beyond.