Are you up for a promotion that would send you halfway across the country? Have always wanted to live in a grass hut on the beach halfway around the world? If either of these is the case in your life, now may not be the time to buy.
You'll want to examine things like the market in your area. Are home values rising, and how quickly? You may pay closing costs when you buy the house, and perhaps be asked to pay them again when you sell it. And the thing about home mortgages: Most of your monthly payments for the first few years cover the interest. You don't make much headway on the principal for a while, which means you aren't building up equity.
The bottom line is this: Even if you live in a buyer's market now, you may not be able to make much money if you try to sell your house within the first few years. On the other hand, if everyone from your great-grandparents on down has lived in the same neighborhood and you aren't about to break with tradition, now may be a great time to buy a house. Look for a home that can grow with your family – or at least accommodate all the family members in the neighborhood who will be dropping by.
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Author's Note: 10 Things to Consider Before Buying Your First Home
As a former real-estate agent, I've seen lots of first-time home buyers make plenty of mistakes, from buying more house than they could afford to taking on a more decrepit house than they could realistically make habitable. Despite their best intentions, agents can only do so much with their advice. The first-time buyers I saw who stayed happiest in their homes were the ones who had done their research, planned their purchases, communicated with their partners and agents and did not step too far outside of their comfort zones. I'm all about taking risks in life -- I went from selling real estate to writing about it, after all. But, a home is often the biggest purchase you make in life, and it's a purchase that follows you around for years. Do your homework before you buy. And happy house hunting!
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In 2008, the U.S. government introduced a new program for first-time homebuyers and sellers. Learn just how helpful it was at HowStuffWorks.