Petal James, chief of retail sales at JN Bank, says while the sharp rise in inflation and other socio-economic challenges are fast becoming a concern for potential home buyers, real estate investment in Jamaica continues to be a profitable endeavour.
“The fact is that a predictable mortgage payment each month not only helps you hedge against rising prices elsewhere in the economy, but homeowners typically also have a net worth that’s much greater than renters. Buying, even if you must start small, is a path to building wealth,” she stated.
Miss James said, however, that the sector is not without its challenges, noting that the recent rise in inflation has begun to affect interest rates and may have some impact on existing mortgage rates. “But despite this reality, the market continues to be buoyant and the demand for housing continues to be strong,” she remarked.
The JN Bank executive, who was addressing educators at the Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA) Education Conference held recently in Trelawny, pointed out that there are several considerations that home buyers should bear in mind before venturing into the market.
“Among the things you want to look at are your ability to secure a down payment for the property you want to buy and whether you can afford to comfortably make your mortgage payments on a monthly basis,” she said. “Your mortgage should not be a burden.”
Miss James said potential buyers must evaluate the following criteria to decide whether their desire to buy translates into a wise financial decision at this time:
Pros for Buying
- A mortgage payment would be less or equal to rent. “Do your homework and work out whether renting vs. buying makes sense for your unique situation. You can use the mortgage calculator at jnbank.com to crunch the numbers to see what your mortgage payments would be for the home you want to buy,” the JN executive said.
- You have a down payment saved up. “If you have your down payment saved up, you are well on your way to home ownership. A down payment on a house is typically five to ten per cent of the purchase cost of the property. Do some research and get pre-approved so that you’re aware of how much you can afford to spend. Your budget will also help to guide you in terms of the type of home you can afford and the location,” she advised.
Cons for Buying Now
- You’re struggling with a down payment. “If you are unable to come up with the deposit or the other house-related costs, such as the closing cost and escalation, it might be wise to wait. Right now, you should focus your priorities on saving and building up funds in your bank account,” Miss James recommended.
- You’re in debt. Miss James said prospective buyers who are struggling with large debts, or a low credit rating should take some time to improve their finances by paying down high interest payment debts, boosting their credit score and building their emergency savings. “This could earn you a better interest rate or greater financing/lending amount in the future,” she said.
Miss James further noted that for those interested in buying a home in today’s market, there’s still a considerable amount of planning to be done to ensure they make an informed decision.
One of the first steps to take is to do your research and know your limits. She said the best way to do this is to get pre-approved for a mortgage. “The pre-approval process helps you to determine how much you can afford to borrow, which basically helps you to decide how much you can afford. This way you can limit your search within your price range,” she remarked.