With interest rates more than double what they were a year ago and a significant slowdown in the housing market, many are wondering if now is still a good time to buy?
Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. A year ago, I would have told all my clients to buy, but in the current market, it really depends on your individual circumstances.
If you have a stable job and plan to live in the same place for the next seven years or more, now could be a great time for you to buy. Adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) can offer you the opportunity to pay a lower monthly rate now in the hopes that when you want to refinance in a couple years, the mortgage rates will have dropped.
If you already own a home, then now is a good time to trade up or downsize. Since the market has cooled a bit, you will have an easier time buying a home because there is less competition in the marketplace. If you can't buy without selling, you should know that homes that are well prepared, priced well and marketed appropriately still sell quickly.
If you are looking to buy only for economic or investment reasons, then you may want to wait a bit. With inflation continuing to rear its ugly head, having cash on hand right now is a great idea. If you are a young person with career uncertainties and possible family changes on your horizon, and you plan to borrow the money for your purchase, you may want to wait to buy.
If you know with great certainty that you will need to sell within the next seven years, then you may not have time to recover from the coming downturn in the real estate market. Before buying, figure out what you could charge in rent for the property you hope to buy. If your costs exceed your potential rental income, then you could be in a difficult set of circumstances.
In general, it is best to not count on mortgage rates dropping in the near future. For some, the 2/1 buydown might be a great option as this program is now being offered by many lenders. The seller gives money to the buyer at settlement for a rate reduction of 2 percentage points for the first year and then 1 percentage point for the second year. This scenario works best if you are expecting your income to increase in the future.
As I tell my clients, every real estate transaction is unique, regardless of what the real estate market is doing. A good Realtor can help you navigate the market and find the best solution for your individual scenario. Be cautious of Realtors who always say "yes." A great Realtor uses their knowledge and skills to put their client’s needs first.
Jean Beatty is a licensed real estate agent in VA, MD, and DC with McEnearney Associates Realtors® in McLean, VA. If you would like more information on selling or buying in today's complex market, contact Jean at 301-641-4149 or visit her website JeanBeatty.com.
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