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5 Stats Every House Hunter Should Know

Before you put a down payment on your new digs, be sure you’re familiar with these 5 crucial numbers.

Buying a new home can be quite the undertaking. In many ways, it’s a numbers game. Here are five stats, numbers, and percentages you’ll need to be familiar with to give you that winning edge.

1. 90% of all home buyers begin home shopping online

Today, 90% of all buyers begin their house shopping online. It’s the best way to get familiar with the market, the houses, the prices, the neighborhoods, and the current inventory — without leaving your home or office.

You can search for properties, compare similar properties, research the neighborhood, calculate commute times, rate schools, and even pull up crime stats for your area online. Most importantly, you will get an invaluable education about how much or how little your money will buy.

2. Plan to live in your home for at least five years

Statistically, based upon the national rates of home appreciation and prices, most homebuyers should consider buying only if they plan to live in their home for five years, minimum.

Otherwise, financially it may not make sense. If you have to sell again relatively soon, you could lose money. Generally, a home is not a good short-term investment because the transaction costs are too high.

Yes, you will have paid down some of your mortgage, but when you factor in paying an agent between 4% and 6% of the sales price and your monthly costs, it can amount to more than the average long-term annual national home price appreciation rate. So, depending upon your metro area, if you have to sell after only a few years, it might make more sense to keep renting.

3. Number of days on the market

When house shopping, knowing how long a home has been on the market can help you gauge if it’s priced too high or has too many flaws. On Trulia, you’ll find this important stat right under the photos of the for-sale home. Great homes in the right neighborhoods that are priced correctly tend to spend the fewest days on the market.

Homes in fringe neighborhoods, that are overpriced compared with comps, or have major structural or cosmetic issues tend to sit on the market much longer. But homes with long for-sale shelf lives aren’t all duds. Some may be slightly overpriced and just need a bit of TLC. With a little imagination and the right guidance from an agent, one of these could be your dream home!

4. Out-of-pocket per month

This statistic tells how much the home will cost you out of pocket every month: your mortgage and estimated taxes and insurance. You can find this on Trulia on every for-sale home’s listing page. Having this stat right upfront lets you tailor your shopping choices to those homes you can actually afford.

5. Borrower’s debt can’t exceed 43% of your income

This is a very important stat and a more recent development in the housing market. Under the new “Qualified Loan” mortgage rules, in general, the borrower’s debt, including mortgage payments, can’t total more than 43% of gross monthly income (although there are exceptions to that cap for the next several years). Also, points and fees are limited to 3% of the loan amount.

What are other key stats you think buyers and sellers should consider? Share in the comments.