About a month ago, I started scrolling through listings at realtor.com to get an idea of what is out there: What can I get? How much will I have to spend? I started fantasizing about owning my own place. Took out a few books on home buying from the library. I even went to a seminar hosted by work for first-time home-buyers, where I got a better idea of what the home buying process entails.
I’m hearing a lot these days about why now is the “perfect time to buy a house.” Interest rates are low, there’s the first time home buyer tax incentive, and house prices have dropped significantly. We’re also reminded that you claim points and paid interest on your taxes, likely providing yet another tax incentive. Sounds like nothing should hold me back, right?
Of course we know it’s not that simple. Now is the time to buy IF you were planning on buying now. I hadn’t really planned to buy anything until further down the road of my financial, personal, and professional life. I mentioned a while back that my financial priorities are first to eliminate my student loans and car debt prior to getting involved in a mortgage. My student loan rates have dropped pretty low, so a mortgage would probably be at a higher interest rate. Plus I’d like to have more money for a down payment, which is counter to my desire to use extra savings to pay down student loan debt. And I’m not super keen on getting financially locked into a place (it’s a relatively non-liquid asset). I also figured I wouldn’t buy a place until I got married. But more and more people are buying for themselves, or as unmarried couples. And I don’t know if I’d have to move for my job. And of course, we don’t know how much more house prices might drop.
I also know that right now, the place I could afford would be small…a “starter home”. And I know I have an image in my head of what my future home should look like. How easy would it be to sell the starter home to buy a different place? It’s not as easy as it used to be…
Anyway, in the meantime, we’re going to keep looking at listings casually, and I’m going to default to saving/paying off debt for a while. I’ll keep reading books, and check out websites with helpful information.
What’s your plan? What do you think I should do? Is now the time to buy? Or should I wait to buy a bigger and better place in the future? And where else should we be looking for information?