When the news shifts daily from doom and gloom to positive affirmations from Warren Buffet that there's no better time to buy, interest rates are at an incredible low while lenders are tougher than ever on qualifying, how do you know when it's right for you to buy?
You can find dozens of websites and calculators on line that can assist you in determining your credit score and debt to income ratios and what you're qualified to borrow; you can read up on how to evaluate a home, how to budget, crime reports and school scores for neighborhoods you're interested in; you can pull up hundreds of homes on Realtor sites that you are pre-qualified to buy. No question.
If you're big on evaluating communities, you can find neighborhood walking scores, information on shopping, parks, local events, sports, even political and neighborhood watch information.
If you're a creative or dreamer, you can utilize thousands of decorating and renovating sites, watch HGTV, visit home improvement centers, and develop Pinterest boards with ideas you've collected to share with your friends and keep track of your plans.
It's everything and anything you want to know, downright information overload out there! It's completely available, and for the most part, free. But all that data and advice doesn't answer the one true question most first time buyers ask: Is this the right time for me (us) to buy a home?
At the risk of being revolutionary, my answer will contradict what most Realtors will propose -- Trust your gut.
More specifically: Do your homework, and then trust your gut.
Why? What I've discovered in more than 12 years of selling hundreds of homes is that first time buyer(s) and I always get a butterfly belly feeling, a knowing in the spirit, when we are standing in the right house for them. It's not practical, it's not scientific, and it has never failed.
As a Realtor, my role is to assist clients in buying a home, one first next step at a time. I am also expected to be the practical expert to point out visible areas of concern in the condition of the home or location that the buyer might overlook, to provide resources and referrals, and to make sure my clients are educated about the home buying process.
But what I've discovered over time, is that the ultimate step, the one that can't be taught but is the barometer for whether a client is truly ready to buy, is that gut feeling that "this is it". I've never represented a client, no matter how practical or analytical, who didn't "feel" they've found their home when they did. I notice when buyers are trying to talk themselves into a house when it's not quite right, and I notice immediately when that "feeling" happens.
The right time to buy a home is when you're prepared financially, educated, and have found the perfect place to call home. The perfect home is the one that is in your price range, you can't quit thinking about it, and lay in bed dreaming about it. That's the one to write an offer on. If you don't get the home, trust that the right one is still out there for you.
I've had clients write an offer, not get the house, experience heartbreak, and then recover, only to find the absolutely perfect home for them, grateful that their previous offer didn't go through. I trust the process, both the practical AND the emotional/spiritual. And encourage you to, too!
After you've prepared financially, determined acceptable neighborhoods, established style and features, then it comes down to trusting your feelings. Do your homework, then trust your gut (even if the answer for you is "not now.")
Happy House Hunting.