You have another baby on the way. Your aging parents have decided to move in. You are starting your own home-based business. There is an endless supply of reasons why a family may need to move up to a bigger, or nicer, home.

How do you know, though, that now is a good time to move up? Let's examine a few issues that will lead you to your answer.

Interest Rates. There is a huge difference between buying a home at 5 percent interest (June 2010), and buying one at, say, 13 percent interest (February 1983). The available rates can change from week to week, and how you qualify depends largely on your credit rating. The first order of business when considering interest rates is to contact a local mortgage lender to find out what rates would be available to you on what loans. Keep in mind rates also vary depending on the type of loan for which you are applying (fixed, adjustable, conforming, jumbo, 30 year, 15 year, etc.).

Income. Moving up to a bigger or nicer house will more than likely mean a bigger mortgage payment. Take an honest look at your budget to see if this makes sense for your family.

Equity. This is one way to avoid a bigger mortgage payment. If you have built substantial equity in your current home, and are selling in a good sellers market where you expect to receive around your asking price, then you could apply your profits from the sale of your current home towards your new mortgage.

Market Conditions. To find out your own local market conditions, contact your local real estate agent, or visit Real Estate-Realtor Times. Is your market favoring buyers or sellers? Are homes selling quickly? Are prices appreciating or falling? These are all important questions to answer.

Wish list. Many first homes are starter homes, and as families grow, needs change. Neighborhoods changes as well, as residents age and jobs come and go. Take a moment to consider what area of town would be best for your family. Think about schools, commute times, and neighborhood amenities.

Use these simple issues as a starting point on your journey to a new home.

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