3 Questions to Ask if You're Thinking About Buying A Home
Is now a good time to buy? This all-too-common and seemingly objective yes/no question can really only be answered by examining a variety of variables, many of which are neither objective nor binary.
There are two major issues that need to be examined: 1) the current market conditions and 2) your/your family's personal situation. When I'm asked this question people are invariably asking about the market. But the real answer is only revealed by examining the personal side of the equation. Why? Because the answer to the market question is almost always yes.
Ok, I can hear you rolling your eyes. A Realtor is telling you it's always a good market?
If you purchased a home in Silicon Valley in early 2008 your real estate wealth would have doubled or more today. But first, you would have suffered a rapid 25% loss almost immediately after buying. So was 2008 a good time to buy? Yes, absolutely, from a financial perspective. But should you personally have boarded that housing market version of Mr. Toad's Wild Ride? To answer that you need to examine your individual situation.
The Personal Evaluation
Are you committed to the location, and the house, for a reasonable length of time. The long-term financial benefits of owning a home are indisputable, but it really takes about five years until owning looks better than renting. From that point on the advantages of ownership get bigger every year.
Over 70% of homes are purchased with a mortgage, and most of those are 30-year loans. That's a commitment. So you want to feel confident going in that your income will be there to support it. If you're concerned about losing your job, a big contract, or even being relocated in a short period to time, you may want to rethink the purchase decision.
Owning means you have the freedom to do what you want to your home, but it also comes with a lot of responsibility. It might be as simple as fixing the doorbell, or you might need a new roof or sewer lateral. All houses need maintenance and repairs, so you need to be prepared to manage it personally and financially.
All in all, the scales tip deeply toward the benefits of owning your own home. And the long-term wealth creation vs renting is unmistakable. But timing is everything, and while the market will forgive most things in the long run, make sure that now is the right time for you personally.