December 2006 Vol. 1 No. 2
• The Most Inappropriate Question You’ll Hear This Holiday Season • Debbie on Fox25 News • About Us

The Most Inappropriate Question You’ll Hear This Holiday Season

During the holidays, you’ll socialize at office parties, family gatherings, open houses and maybe even a formal gala or two. It’s likely that conversation will turn to the real estate market during at least one of these affairs, as home prices continue to fall and interest rates hold steady.

It’s a buyer’s market, we keep hearing. So someone is bound to ask what I believe is a silly, inappropriate question : “Is it a good time to buy property?” - Here’s why: this is usually not a great question:

  1. Some people will say yes, because they think the market has bottomed out and you should take advantage.
  2. Some people will say no, because they think home prices will fall even further.
  3. You’ll end up with conflicting, meaningless information that serves no purpose in your real estate decision.
Asking if it’s a good time to buy is like asking if it’s a good time to get married. It’s not a general question! Every person’s situation is different, and while it may be a perfect time for one couple to get married, it may be a terrible time for another. It’s the same thing with real estate – each decision is individual, based on specific circumstances and objectives.

One couple I’m working with recently celebrated their first wedding anniversary. (They decided last year that it was a good time to get married!) They’re happily renting a two-bedroom apartment in a duplex and saving for a house. A few months ago, however, their landlord informed them that he was selling the house and they’d have to move.

They called me to get their finances in line and see about their mortgage options. Under ideal circumstances, they wouldn’t have called me for another year. But life took an unexpected turn, and now became the right time to look for a house.

The Real Reason To Buy Real Estate
In general, life events – not the market – is the main driver of home buying or selling decisions. Here are some life events that drive many real estate decisions.
  • Marriage
  • Divorce
  • Baby
  • New Job
  • Empty Nesters
  • Retirement
  • External factors – a fire, landlord selling, condo conversions, etc.
During these times, people realize they need more or less space, they can’t afford their current home, or they need to move to a different city, state or country. When going through a divorce, for example, many women want to stay in the family home with the children but realize that they won’t be able to afford it if they have to buy out their ex- husband’s share of the home. Buying a less expensive property becomes an alternative.

If You Can Wait, Wait!
If your current life situation is not triggering a move, stay put for now. It can be tempting, especially for first time home buyers, to want to grab a home that continues to fall in price. But your time may be better spent getting your finances in order and creating a plan so you’re fully prepared to make an informed offer.

Spend some time exploring these questions:
  • How much are you paying per month for your home? Are you looking to spend less or more?
  • Do you have good credit? Get a copy of your credit report(s) and address any discrepancies.
  • What kind of lifestyle do you live? Are you home bodies who want to spend your weekends on do-it- yourself house projects or do you like to get up and go and spend money on recreation like travel and dining? If you like to have cash on hand, you may not want a lot of money tied up in your house.
  • Are you conservative or aggressive financially? This will help you determine how much risk you’ll be comfortable with when taking on a new mortgage.
Prices aren’t going anywhere for a while. In fact, I believe they will continue to fall.

Enjoy those holiday parties. Just don’t make any real estate decisions at them!

Debbie on Fox25 News

If you missed it last month, take a peek at my recent interview with Fox25 News' Bianca de la Garza.

As always, I enjoyed talking with Bianca about my favorite topic – helping consumers find the best mortgage for their unique situation!

Follow this link to watch!

Happy Holidays and thank you for returning for a second helping of "Raising the Roof!," my monthly guide to maximizing the financial potential of your home.

One of the most interesting – and sometimes frustrating! – parts of my work is hearing people’s nightmare mortgage stories. I’m always amazed to hear how people have been persuaded into buying homes they can’t afford, pushed into programs that don’t fit their needs or pulled out of perfectly good living situations just because it was a “buyer’s market.”

If you’ve ever have suffered a hellish home buying/selling/refinancing experience, please click “reply” to share it with me. I may highlight it in a future issue so other readers can learn from it.
I’m always here to answer your mortgage questions.

Best regards,
Debbie Siegel
Westchester Mortgage

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Click here to read my "Mortgage Minute" in the ForeclosuresMass Monthly newsletter.

This month's column: What is mortgage insurance and do you need it?

December's Home Value Improver

Whether you heat your home with oil or gas, make an annual heating system check a top priority.

Keeping your system functioning properly and clean will extend its life and save money on your heating bills. It could also save your life, since carbon monoxide can leak out of a faulty system.

Make the smart choice and invest in annual maintenance, typically less than $100 a year. Much less than a new furnace will cost!

Westchester Mortgage simplifies the complex and often stressful process of finding the right loan program based on your financial goals and situation.

We provide unbiased advice regarding mortgage products offered by a wide variety of lenders. Our relationships with numerous banks and lenders allows us to select from thousands of programs to find the one that best meets your needs.

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