There is no such thing as “a great time to buy.”

With home prices off a third or more around Seattle from their hyper-inflated housing bubble levels, interest rates still hovering in the sub-five-percent range, and numerous economic fundamentals indicating a market more balanced than it has been in nearly a decade, has the perennial claim of home salesmen come true? Is now, finally, “a great time to buy”?

2005 through 2008 was definitely a pretty terrible time to buy—the signs were easy to spot: bidding wars, waived inspections, skyrocketing prices… But does dramatic improvement in market conditions for buyers necessarily mean that today is a great time?

"Very Honest For Sale By Owner Sign" by Casey Serin

Obviously one can make an argument that there are still too many negative macro factors (unemployment, massive national debt/deficits, inflation/deflation, etc.) hanging over the market like the Sword of Damocles to make today a great time to buy, but I would like to make a different argument today. I contend that even if every possible economic and market measure were positive, it still would not be “a great time to buy,” because there is no such thing as a generic, “great time to buy” that applies to every potential homebuyer.

There is never “a great time to buy.” There is only “your time to buy.”

If home prices are at rock-bottom, interest rates are at one percent, the economy is booming, is it a great time to buy? Not if you’ve got a hundred thousand dollars of school debt and you’re working part-time at the Sizzler, it isn’t!

Likewise if some of the macro-economic factors are still in the toilet, but your personal situation is secure and you find a great home that you love, at a price you feel is fair, and can easily afford. Is it “a great time to buy”? Probably not, but it may indeed be your time to buy.

When I’m thinking about whether or not it’s my time to buy, here are a few of the factors I take into consideration:

  • income & job stability
  • availability of nice, affordable homes
  • current & near-future family situation (i.e. – kids, pets, etc.)
  • desire for stability
  • tolerance for risk (future price declines)

The stuff we spend every day talking about on this site generally falls into that second category, which is only one of the many personal factors that go into determining whether or not it’s my time to buy.

So, what are your factors? Is it your time to buy? I’m especially interested in hearing from readers that have bought in the last year or so. What led you to decide that now was finally the time to jump in?

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About The Tim

Tim Ellis is the founder of Seattle Bubble. His background in engineering and computer / internet technology, a fondness of data-based analysis of problems, and an addiction to spreadsheets all influence his perspective on the Seattle-area real estate market. Tim also hosts the weekly improv comedy sci-fi podcast Dispatches from the Multiverse.