So, is this a good time to buy? I get this question almost daily. But the better question to ask yourself is “Why do I want to buy?” Are you an investor? A first-time home buyer? Are you looking for a vacation home? A retirement property?
If you’re an investor, you must have deep cash reserves, the ability to play a long waiting game, and you should be able to rent the place out for more than you put into it. I’m not a financial advisor, but investing in something that slowly drains your pockets doesn’t seem wise. And it isn’t.
For first-time home buyers, ask yourself if your mortgage and expenses will be the same or less than you are paying in rent. If it is, this is a no-brainer. But also consider the possibility that you lose your job–do you have the reserves to pay your bills, and still fill the fridge in your new kitchen? If you’re ready, low prices combined with the $8,000 first-time homebuyer’s tax credit make it a great time to stop signing lease papers and put your John Hancock on a mortgage.
Second home, retirement or vacation home buyers have to think both short and long-term. How many dollars are going into the investment and how much will you be using it? Can or should you rent it part of the year? And if you retire in 10 years, will you be happy you bought at today’s prices?
Above all, I encourage you to buy only after considering your financial position and knowing why you want to invest. Only you (with input from your trusted real estate agent and financial planner) can answer these questions. Yes, our market is down 75% in some areas. Are we at the bottom? Nobody knows for sure. Will it go down more? Maybe. Will prices go up soon? Probably not. While you’ll never be able to pick the exact top and the exact bottom, you have to swing the bat if you want to hit a home run. But knowing ALL the rules and risks of the game before you step up to the plate will help you recognize a great pitch–and shrink your chances of striking out.