Your Questions Answered
At Ashlar, I firmly b that an educated home buyer or seller is best equipped to make their own decisions. That’s why I take time out of my day each and every day to answer someone’s real estate question. And, when I think the answer can be useful to you as well, I share it here. So without further ado:
I found myself in your same position back in 2003-2006. So I do know that feeling of “missing the boat” and “no hope of ever being able to own”.
The thing to remember is that circumstances change. Both your own, as well as the market. You will get promoted, change jobs, probably have a time or two where you’ll need to tighten the belt, but overall on average as you increase in age, your income climbs along with it as you learn to be more effective with your experience.
The real estate market as well, will go up, and down and sometimes sideways, which is a bit of what it’s doing currently. The other thing to know is the market takes a loooong time to move. The Great Recession crash took from 2006/7 – 2011. That’s nearly 5 years for homes to lose 20%-50% of peak value.
The reason why is real estate is very much a pure market dictated almost 100% by supply and demand. When demand is huge and supply is limited, which has been much the case for the last 2 years, prices increase dramatically. When demand falls however, which is the case with rising interest rates, prices do not fall at the same rate as the rise because people don’t like losing money and will hold out.
The market is going to do what it’s going to do, and is entirely out of yours or my control or ability to predict, and typically affects all homes similarly, so while you should keep a general eye on it you shouldn’t base your entire decision on trying to time it.
My best advice is to search for the best house in the area you 100% want to live in that is in a budget that won’t cause you pain if you experience a financial downturn. While all home purchases include some compromise (no house is perfect), negative compromises look like trying to maximize return on investment or “buying a deal”.
If you *know* that you would be happier in a different home or new living arrangement then your happiness is worth more than what the market is going to do. I say this as someone who missed buying in 2002-2006, bought a home in 2013, and someone who bought and made a move in July 2022.
Having Return on Investmnent as a main concern for the home you live in is a great way to be miserable because they are usually not the area you want to be in or a house that needs huge projects completed. I usually only am ok with a buyer seeking ROI for their primary residence if they are ok with their home being destroyed for a year or two.
And if you are seeking ROI, my recommendation is to buy a project house in the best neighborhood within your budget.
But the enjoyment of a home and lifestyle (neighborhood, location, features) within budget should be nearly 100% of the buying decision for most home buyers.