If you ask a Realtor or a national association of individuals within that profession whether now is the perfect time to buy a house, they would say yes. Of course, their answer was yes a year ago, when average prices were low, and their answer was yes a few years ago, when average prices were at all-time highs. Real estate agents are supposed to be the experts when it comes to the housing market, but they are biased. Whether buying or selling, agents make money as long as the industry is moving.
But I’ve been watching the real estate industry for the past few years. I haven’t zeroed in on a particular location yet, so I’ve been watching the national averages. Money Magazine is saying that now is a great time to buy a house, and they were able to pull off the article without any quotations from real estate agents. If, of course, you can qualify for the mortgage, and you still shop around for a deal, buying a house now might be a good choice.
Notice that I didn’t say that it would be a good investment. There is more than a good chance that the price of your house won’t move up much over the next thirty years. The short boom that we saw in the real estate market might be over, not to return for fifty years or even a century, if ever. Consider the expenses that you pour into owning a home, and you might not even come out with a profit when you sell.
It shouldn’t be the pseudo-investment aspects of owning a house that interests a buyer, it should be the ability to customize your living space and tailor it to what you and your family would like. That’s the primary benefit of ownership, but even that isn’t necessary for many people. Continuing to rent is always a valid option, skipping time-consuming maintenance needs and up-keep expenses, but having the possibility of increasing rent and the the need to rely on a landlord to take care of problems.
Would you buy a home today?
Updated January 3, 2011 and originally published December 14, 2010.