Buying a home is one of the most important personal and financial decisions that you’ll make in your life. In today’s market, it is essential that you understand the journey you are about to embark upon. Complex and seemingly contradictory economic headlines have misled many potential buyers into hesitance. While it’s easy to prioritize mortgage rates in your decision-making process, the economy is just one factor, but should not be the sole deciding factor. Your personal finances, life journey, and local market trends should all be taken into account and given their own weight.
There are a number of elements that may make this the ideal time for you to buy a home. Engel & Völkers has compiled a list of some of the most important factors to consider.
Credit. A high credit score will help you lock in a lower interest rate—which could save you thousands over your loan’s lifetime. And, get this, a recent credit scoring ruling has given millions of U.S. consumers 22 extra credit score points.
Savings. Lenders want to see that you have cash set aside in case of an emergency. While your down payment should cover 3.5 – 20% of the listing price, it’s essential to have extra cash—be it in savings, retirement, or anything else—so you can have a fallback in case of a job loss or need for major repairs.
Debt. Lenders considering your mortgage applications will be sure to look at your debt-to-income ratio. As its name implies, this number gives insight into how much of your monthly income is being used to pay off debts. Most lenders look for a ratio lower than 28%.
Market Prices vs. Your Budget: While both listing prices and your budgets are influenced by the economy, higher market prices do not necessarily mean your dream home is unaffordable. The trick is to evaluate the homes available in your desired market at your desired price range to see if they meet your needs.
Investing in Your Future
Over the past month, you’ve probably heard a lot about mortgage rates, inflation, and a pending recession. If these headlines are making you hesitant to buy a home, rest assured that the real estate market is in a much better position than they imply. Here’s why:
Historically low mortgage rates: Despite recent increases, mortgage rates are still historically low. However, they will continue to rise. By purchasing today, homebuyers can lock in lower rates and lower monthly payments than those that will be available in the future.
Prices are rising: While the real estate market has slowed, home prices have continued to climb—albeit more slowly. Delaying purchasing a home in the hopes that prices will fall does just the opposite: it ensures your new home will be more expensive. The moment buyers who are taking a ‘wait and see’ approach return, the market will accelerate again.
A substantial investment: As prices around the world rise, property values also increase—ensuring that real estate remains a stable investment. A home you purchase today could be worth significantly more in the future.
Make a deal: As the market cools, home sellers are more open to negotiations. Where earlier in the year buyers have been compromising on home inspections and inadvertently entering bidding wars, buyers now have more opportunities to make a deal. In fact, listing adjustments were up slightly from August 2020, with 17.3% of active listings having seen a price adjustment.
These market conditions will only hold for so long, and buyers who act quickly have the opportunity to purchase a property to secure their future.
Like many others, you’ve probably considered whether today’s economy is conducive to your homebuying goals. While mortgage rates and inflation are meaningful considerations, the real question is whether you are ready to buy a home.
Starting a family? Need to relocate for a new job? Or, perhaps, you finally have enough savings to enter the real estate market? No matter why there’s likely a timely reason that you are considering buying a home. Don’t delay in taking the next step in your life…the timing won’t be right forever.
National vs. Local Trends
Finally, most headlines focus on national and international housing trends—not those impacting your local market. It’s important to research local housing conditions, specifically mortgage rates, housing inventory, and listing prices. For example, cities like Cleveland, Ohio, are seeing median listing prices of less than $120,000 USD and are also reporting discounts in selling prices over the past months.
In order to properly assess your local market, it’s essential to work with an expert real estate advisor like those at Engel & Völkers—who, first and foremost, are your neighbors. Our local advisors have a comprehensive understanding of the trends affecting their markets and are well-equipped to evaluate how the market looks given your personal circumstances.