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SMART MONEY A COLUMN BY BRUCE WILLIAMS

First home puts strain on bank account

Tuesday, December 3, 2013 - 12:01 am

DEAR BRUCE: I just purchased my first home in a nice, quiet neighborhood. It is a modest home with a picture-perfect white fence. I paid $125,000.

How long do you have to live in a home, or how much do you have to pay on the mortgage, to qualify for a refinance? Now that I moved in, and the bills and repairs are milking my checking account, I am scared I won’t be able to stay above water. – G.P.

Dear G.P.: There is no magic time period. If the home goes up in value, then it’s possible to refinance. Generally, it’s going to be a couple of years before anyone will seriously consider you for refinancing, assuming the value of the home has increased.

What I am concerned about is your worry that you won’t be able to stay above water on your mortgage, which means you paid more than you could afford. That’s the simple reality.

Let me suggest that you might wish to consider getting a part-time job. Even if you have to work for minimum wage in a hamburger joint for 25 hours a week, at $8 an hour, that is $200 a week.

I am certain that money, even after taxes, would go a long way toward taking the pressure off. You won’t have as much time to enjoy the home, but at least you will be certain you won’t be losing it.

Send questions to bruce@brucewilliams.com. Questions of general interest will be answered in future columns. Owing to the volume of mail, personal replies cannot be provided.