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Home / House or Car: What Should You Buy First?

House or Car: What Should You Buy First?

Deciding between buying a house or a car first is one of the decisions a lot of us have to make. It’s a big move especially when you are about to spend a lot of your hard-earned money or potentially take down a loan just to afford it. Moreover, it can impact your monthly payments, debt-to-income ratio, and overall financial situation.

Whether you want a car that can take you to places or a roof over your head that you own, that decision still feels heavy. This is why we have outlined the pros and cons to determine which major purchase makes the most sense for you.


Factors to Consider If You Should Buy a House or a Car First

Buying a house or a car is a big investment in itself. These are some of the factors to think about before buying a house or a car. 

Financial Stability and Goals

Before deciding whether to buy a house or a car, evaluating your financial stability and long-term goals is crucial. Assessing your financial health involves examining your income, savings, debt, and monthly expenses to ensure you have a solid foundation for making such a significant purchase.

Consider how a house or a car fits into your long-term scenarios—building wealth, securing housing expenses, or needing monthly savings for plans. A house might offer better investment opportunities and the potential to build equity. At the same time, a car provides essential mobility that could be necessary depending on your lifestyle needs and career requirements.


Credit Score Implications

Your credit score is pivotal in determining the interest rates you’ll be offered on loans for a house or a car. This can impact the total cost of borrowing money. Buying a car can be quicker. If done responsibly by making timely payments, it can help build your credit. However, taking on an auto loan increases your debt-to-income ratio (DTI ratio), which might affect your loan qualification for a mortgage later.

Conversely, purchasing a house first can significantly impact your credit score due to the immense loan amount and potentially higher debt level. Still, it’s also a chance to invest in an asset that appreciates over time.


Lifestyle Needs and Priorities

Your current lifestyle needs and priorities significantly influence whether to buy a house or a car first. For individuals relying on public transportation or living in cities with accessible transport networks, prioritizing a home purchase might make more sense.

However, buying a car could be the more immediate need for those in suburban or rural areas where a car is essential for daily commuting. Additionally, consider your employment status, whether your job requires frequent relocation or if you work remotely. These factors can dictate the practicality of one purchase over the other.


Investment Potential

When considering investment potential, a house generally offers a long-term investment that real estate typically appreciates over time. It provides a place to live, the potential for rental income, and significant value appreciation. In contrast, cars depreciate quickly, making them a less favorable financial investment.

However, the cost of ownership, including monthly payments, insurance, and maintenance, can be lower in the short term for cars. When deciding between a house or a car, both options requires a careful analysis of savings, potential for investment growth, and how each aligns with your financial goals and lifestyle.


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Advantages of Buying a House First

A house with a lawn

Before deciding between buying a house or a car first, take into considerations the advantages of a house. These will help you understand your priorities and needs.


Building Equity

Homeownership is important for a lot of people because it can significantly build equity and increase personal net worth over time. Unlike paying monthly rent, which offers no return on investment, monthly mortgage payments gradually reduce the balance owed on the home loan. This increases the homeowner’s equity in the property.

Furthermore, as real estate typically appreciates, the investment can grow, offering a substantial return when selling the property or leveraging its equity for other financial decisions. This is a good reason to prioritize buying a house over a car first.


Tax Benefits

Owning a home can also provide notable tax benefits. Homeowners may be eligible for mortgage interest deductions, which can lower the amount of income subject to taxes. Additionally, certain costs associated with buying and owning a home, such as property taxes and closing costs, may be tax-deductible.

Between a house or a car, these benefits sounds good to prioritize a house first. It can reduce the overall cost of homeownership and should be considered when evaluating the financial situation of buying a house.


Stability and Security

Beyond the financial aspects, home purchasing offers stability and security that renting cannot match. Homeownership provides a permanent residence and a sense of belonging in a community, contributing to emotional well-being and a stable family environment.

Between a house or a car, a house also offers the freedom to make personalized changes to the property. This turns it into a long-term investment not just in real estate but in your personal life and future. This sense of permanence and control over one’s living situation is a significant advantage for many prospective home buyers, contributing to their emotional and financial security.


Read More: Renting vs. Buying a House: Make the Smart Choice Now


Advantages of Buying a Car First

A blue carBefore deciding between buying a house or a car first, these are some good reasons to consider a car first. These will help you understand your priorities and needs. 

Mobility and Flexibility

Securing a car grants immediate mobility and flexibility, enhancing your ability to commute, travel, and access opportunities that might otherwise be out of reach. The convenience of personal transportation can be a game-changer, especially in areas with limited public transportation options.

Owning a car offers the independence to manage your schedule without relying on external transit systems, making balancing work, social engagements, and other responsibilities easier. This mobility can also open up broader employment opportunities, as you’re not confined to job offers within a strict radius of your home or accessible transit routes.


Lower Initial Investment

When comparing down payments and closing costs, buying a car typically requires a lower initial investment than buying a house. While home buying entails substantial financial commitments, including a significant down payment, closing costs, and ongoing housing expenses, the barrier to entry for purchasing a car is usually much lower.

This can make car ownership more accessible in the short term, particularly for those who are still building their savings and might not have the substantial funds required for a home purchase.


Potential Impact on Credit Score

Responsibly managing an auto loan can positively affect your credit score. Regular, on-time loan payments are reported to credit bureaus, contributing to a positive payment history—a critical factor in credit scoring models.

Successfully paying off a car loan can demonstrate your reliability as a borrower to lenders and credit institutions, potentially making it easier to qualify for future loans with better interest rates. For individuals looking to build or improve their credit, acquiring a car loan and handling it responsibly can be a strategic move toward achieving those financial goals.


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Long-Term Financial Impacts of Buying a House or a Car First

Long-Term Financial Impacts of Buying a House or a Car First

Depreciation vs. Appreciation

One of the most critical distinctions between investing in real estate versus a car revolves around depreciation and appreciation. When choosing between a house or a car, note that cars are notorious for their rapid depreciation. A new car can lose a significant portion of its value within the first few years of ownership, continuing to depreciate over time. This contrasts sharply with real estate, which typically appreciates over the long term, often increasing in value and potentially offering substantial returns on the initial investment.

While there are exceptions and market fluctuations, real estate is generally considered a long-term investment that can contribute to building wealth, unlike cars, which are often seen as depreciating assets that lose value when driven off the dealership lot.


Cost of Ownership

The cost of ownership for a house or a car encompasses a variety of ongoing expenses beyond the initial purchase. For homes, these costs include monthly mortgage payments, property taxes, homeowners insurance, maintenance and repair costs, and potentially homeowners association (HOA) fees. These expenses can add up but are offset by the property’s potential to appreciate and the tax benefits and equity homeowners can build over time.

On the other hand, owning a car involves costs, including loan payments, auto insurance, maintenance, repairs, and fuel. While these expenses generally do not contribute to increasing the car’s value, they are considered necessary for the convenience and mobility a car provides. Both types of ownership have their financial considerations, and the cost of ownership should be carefully weighed against the benefits and potential for value appreciation or depreciation.


Read More: Home Loans: Which One Is Most Beneficial For Me?


Making the Decision between a House or a Car First

A car parked in front of a house

Evaluating Personal and Financial Circumstances

Choosing between buying a house or a car first necessitates thoroughly evaluating your personal and financial circumstances. Begin by assessing your financial stability, including income, savings, debt levels, and monthly expenses. Consider your debt-to-income ratio and how a new loan would impact it.

Reflect on your long-term goals and lifestyle needs—do you need a car for daily commuting, or is homeownership a more pressing dream? Consider your current housing and transportation situation; how urgently must you address each? Evaluating these aspects will help clarify which purchase aligns better with your immediate and future financial and personal goals.


Seeking Professional Advice

Given the significant financial implications of buying a car or house, consulting with financial experts can be incredibly valuable. Financial advisors or planners can offer personalized advice based on your financial situation, helping you understand the long-term scenarios of each decision. They can provide insights into the interest rates you might qualify for, suggest strategies for improving your credit score before purchasing, and help you navigate the pre-qualification process for loans.

Additionally, they can assist in projecting how either purchase would affect your ability to meet other financial goals, such as saving for retirement or building an emergency fund. Seeking professional advice can ensure that your decision is informed by a comprehensive understanding of your financial health and long-term investment potential, helping you make the choice that best supports your aspirations to build wealth and secure your financial future.


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Choosing between buying a house or a car first is a significant decision that hinges on your personal and financial circumstances. Consider your long-term goals, economic stability, and lifestyle needs. Whether you prioritize mobility or investment potential, ensure the decision aligns with your path to building wealth and achieving financial security.


Frequently Asked Questions

Can I afford a house if I already have a car loan?

Affording a house with an existing car loan depends on your debt-to-income ratio, monthly mortgage payments, and other housing expenses. It’s essential to assess if your financial situation allows for both loans without straining your monthly budget.


What are the long-term financial benefits of buying a house over a car?

Real estate typically appreciates over time, offering long-term investment growth, tax benefits, and the opportunity to build equity. Cars, however, depreciate rapidly, making houses a better investment for building wealth.


How long after buying a car can I buy a house?

There’s no set timeframe, but waiting until the car loan has positively impacted your credit score and you’ve adjusted to the monthly payments is advisable. Give it at least a year to ensure your debt-to-income ratio remains favorable for securing a home loan.


Is it wrong to buy a car before a house? 

Buying a car before a house isn’t inherently wrong, but it can affect your debt-to-income ratio and credit score, potentially impacting your ability to qualify for a home loan or secure favorable interest rates. Consider your long-term financial goals and monthly budget before making a decision.


Can you buy a house and a car at the same time? 

Yes, you can buy a house and a car simultaneously, but managing both loans requires careful financial planning without overextending your debt-to-income ratio. Ensure your financial situation supports monthly payments and considers potential impacts on loan qualification.


Does having a car loan affect a mortgage? 

Yes, having a car loan can affect a mortgage application by increasing your debt-to-income ratio, which lenders scrutinize to determine your ability to afford monthly mortgage payments. It’s crucial to maintain a healthy credit score and manage debt responsibly.


Should I pay off my car before buying a house?

Paying off your car loan before buying a house lowers your debt-to-income ratio, making it easier to qualify for a home loan and secure better interest rates. However, assess your financial situation to ensure this aligns with your overall personal finance goals.


Should I refinance my car before buying a house?

Refinancing your car loan before buying a house can be beneficial if it lowers your monthly payments or the interest rate, improving your debt-to-income ratio. However, consider any refinancing costs and how they impact your financial situation and savings for a down payment.


How long after buying a new car can you apply for a mortgage?

You can apply for a mortgage soon after buying a new car, but it’s wise to wait until the car loan positively affects your credit score and you’ve adapted to the monthly payments. A buffer period of 6 to 12 months is recommended to ensure your debt-to-income ratio is optimized for home loan approval.


Does buying a car affect refinancing a house?

Buying a car can affect refinancing a house by altering your debt-to-income ratio and potentially your credit score, which lenders evaluate during the refinancing process. Before proceeding, it’s essential to consider the timing of major purchases and their impact on your financial profile.


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