Should you buy a house now or wait?

Published 9:05 pm Thursday, February 22, 2018

By Phillip Hines

This is a question I hear a lot. Is this a good time to buy a home? Is the market favorable to buyers?

Here’s my answer: it depends. There’s no arguing the fact that interest rates have risen by more than half a point in the last eight weeks, which is why many pundits encourage people to buy a home — to lock in a low rate. But the question of when to buy a home is so personal (unless you’re an investor).

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I cannot normally accept the premise of this question, and so I suggest reframing it: are you ready to commit and want the benefits and responsibility of a house? If so, then yes, now is the time to buy. If not, then perhaps you need to do some more soul-searching. In real estate, there are always deals. That’s what’s great about real estate, if you can find them.

Are you emotionally ready?

Are you ready to commit to staying in a place for more than, say, two years? Buying a house is highly emotional. Where will you live? What kind of neighborhood do you want? Does your neighborhood define who you are? Diving head first into a home purchase can be incredibly exciting while also exhausting. So many people offer up their opinions. You start to second guess your decision. Ask yourself if you can see yourself being happy in the house. Does the yard fit your needs? Is the house suitable for you and your family? Is the location what you want, keeping in mind potential future job changes and schools?

Are you actually financially ready?

Awesome — the mortgage company just served you up a pre-approval letter for $250,000! You are approved, by their standards, to buy a house. But are you really? Buying a house not only requires a down payment, money for closing costs and more, but it also requires keeping up with the house. You are responsible for the HVAC, the yard, the plumbing during the snowstorms. It’s your house. While I’m not a financial adviser, I will say that it is helpful to have some money in the bank (or at least access to capital) in the event you have a major house repair.

Why even buy a house?

This is a serious question you should ask yourself before you sign on the dotted line for several hundred thousand dollars. It’s amazing how one of the biggest drivers in our economy — real estate — is driven by such quick decision-making. I’m not trying to discourage you from buying; I just want you to be thoughtful. Once you’re intentional about your home purchase, you will most likely feel more in control, feel better about your decision, and make a better decision for your house purchase.

So … are you ready to buy a house?

Phillip J. Hines is a local real estate agent originally from Smithfield. Visit his website at www.PhillipJHines.com.