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To buy or to rent? That is the question!

As a wedding planner many of my clients are not just getting married but also considering whether to buy a house or to rent. So I decided to ask Lancaster Realtor Jason Burkholder to be this week's guest blogger. We met several years ago when we decided to sell our house. He not only got us a good offer on the house we were selling, but also helped us find our new house! If you're buying or selling a house then be sure to check him out! Your New Life Together – To Buy House or Not to Buy a House?

Now that you and your significant other have decided to make the commitment and spend the rest of your lives together, it’s time to ponder another type of commitment – a house.   It’s a big decision, some would say it’s not as big a decision as the one you just made, others would say due to the huge impact it can have on your lives it’s even bigger.  Some people will tell you to buy a house right away, others will tell you to wait a few years.  These opinions vary between friends, family members, co-workers, even Mom and Dad might disagree on the right thing for you to do.  Who’s right, what should you do?

Well, the short answer is that it’s completely up to you.  You should rely on the advice of friends and family, their experiences can save you a lot of trouble, but in the end no one can make this decision but you and your spouse.  As a Realtor, I get asked all the time by nervous buyers whether I think they are making the right decision and while I am happy to give advice, my answer is always the same, it doesn’t matter what I think, because in the end YOU will be living in whatever home you buy and YOU will be paying for it.  For that reason and that reason alone, you need to tune out everyone else’s opinions and focus on what you and your new spouse (or soon to be spouse) want to do.

Contrary to what folks in my industry say, it’s not always the right time to buy.  That however, has nothing to do with market conditions; “good” market or “bad” market is irrelevant.  Whether or not it’s the right time to buy depends on you and your future plans.  If you think you will be moving within 2-4 years, I would suggest renting a cheaper home and saving your money.  The average home appreciates a little each year, historically, but given the large amount of money you put out for down payment and closing costs to buy, then the closing costs needed to sell, it is rare to be able to sell within the first 4 years of ownership and not have to bring a check to settlement.  Also, if you think your employment is unstable or if you have credit problems, you might be better off renting for a little while longer.

Market conditions are because many of the so-called “experts” quote national trends and statistics.  That simply is not an accurate picture of what is happening in real estate.  All markets are local and what real estate prices are doing in Las Vegas has no impact on what the prices are doing in Lancaster County PA.  So don’t base your decision on what you read in the paper.  Base your decision on what is happening locally, in your town.  Are the jobs stable?  Is the local economy OK?   Talk to some local experts and see what they say.

That being said, if you are planning on staying for at least the next 5-7 years, or longer, have stable income and good credit, buying makes sense, for a number of reasons.  First off, it is your home, you can do what you want, when you want, no need to ask anyone’s permission to paint or remodel.  Second, the interest is tax deductible, and there are also tax credits for certain repairs and improvements, so financially it makes much more sense than renting.

So, if buying is right for you, or if you don’t know if it’s right for you and you want to talk to someone, the most important step you can make is the one most people accomplish by accident….. talk to a Realtor.  Over 60% of home buyers use the first Realtor they meet, generally what they do is go out looking at houses and if they find one they like end up using whichever agent happens to be there..  Sometimes that works out great, others times they wish they would have made a different choice.

There is no question about it, you should not attempt buying a home without the help of a Realtor, the process is too complicated, the problems that may arise too vast.  But picking the first one you meet or just using whoever was at the open house you dropped into might not be right for you.  I’m sure, in planning your wedding, you talked to more than one florist, more than one baker, more than one seamstress for the dress.  You left nothing to chance.  So why not do that when selecting a Realtor?

Ask your friends and family if they know of any agents you should interview.  Look at the areas you want to purchase in and see which agents are selling homes there already.  Go search online, review their websites and blogs. Then go meet with them, ask them about the process, see what services they offer, how they do business, and then select who you are going to work with.  Picking the agent before picking the home ensures you will have a committed, competent professional working for you, helping you make the right choice for your future.  Good luck and Happy Home Buying!

WeddingsMelissa Martin