I’ve heard it over and over again in one variation or another; “my friend says it’s a good time to buy”; “I heard on the news it’s a really bad time to buy”; “what’s your opinion, should I buy now or wait 6 months?” It’s not a naïve question, and in fact I’m normally pleased when I receive it, because it means my client is trying to follow the market and be truly involved in their home buying process. However, this question, in all its variations, is also an oversimplifications of the home buying process.
Over the past few years the terms “good time to buy” and “bad time to buy” have become almost daily phrases in news stories and throughout our nation’s economic discussions. And while the market certainly shifts up and down, from a buyer’s market to a seller’s market, this question tends to make purchasing a home a purely economic consideration, and ignores the many emotional factors that play into home purchases.
Ultimately, most home buyers do not, and should not, view purchasing a house as a purely economic decision. Yes, there are many economic advantages to owning a home; building equity, having a solid investment, reduction of monthly housing costs as compared with renting. But purchasing a house is purchasing a home, and there are strong non-economic considerations that buyers should consider. This may be where you want to raise a family, or start a new life, or host friends for unforgettable parties. And those factors are not market specific. Financial situation and market conditions may dictate when you can buy or how much you can spend, but ultimately the non-economic considerations will determine what you buy.
So, how do I answer this question? Well, there really is no one-size-fits-all answer. Each buyer is unique, and therefore determining an answer to this question, or at least a pathway that may lead my client to an answer, requires a careful analysis of my client’s individual situation. What is my client’s timeframe? Why is my client moving? What is happening in the market? What part of town do they want or need to live in? What is my client’s financial situation? Are there special factors that need to be considered?
So, all that being said. The answer to the question is, “I don’t know.” And neither do you. At least not until you get out into the market and start searching through homes, not on the internet, but by actually going through properties and getting a feel for what is available on the market at this point in time. Only through this process can you tell if the non-economic considerations of purchasing a home can be fulfilled. If so, you’ll know as soon as you walk in to the property that makes you feel at home. If not, perhaps slowing down and taking some time to explore the market over the next 6 months or so is the right decision for you.