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September 18, 2019

Low mortgage rates aren't the most important factor for potential buyers to weigh

Real Estate Mortgages

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With mortgage rates fluctuating in an enticingly low range over the past year, it's natural for many aspiring buyers to consider jumping at the opportunity while it's there.

A 3.6% interest rate on a 30-year fixed rate mortgage carries a lot of appeal, but it shouldn't cloud a buyer's judgment when reviewing the fundamental reasons to buy a home.

As the Washington Post points out this week, rates are not everything:

There may be events in your life that impel you to buy a home — such as getting married or having children. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, interest rates peaked at 18.6 percent. But that didn’t stop people from buying homes. People buy when they need to buy. That hasn’t changed.

The story notes that home prices were significantly lower 50 years ago, so the higher interest rates were less onerous for those who needed to buy.

What remains the same is that there are core reasons for purchasing a home: family, career, investment and access to amenities are all driving motivations that should come before the financial incentive applies.

Part of the reason this is so important now is that it has become harder to flip properties for short-term profit. Transaction costs for purchasing property generally mean that breaking even can take anywhere from three to ten years or longer, even when low interest rates are helping to offset them.

Recognizing unanticipated costs for maintenance and comparing overall expenses relative to renting are necessary steps to take when evaluating whether it's the right time to buy.

While 2019 has seen a boom in refinancing and continued growth among first-time homebuyers, going through a checklist of the areas above will provide the clarity to see 10 years down the road and determine whether the decision to buy will be as smart then as it seems now.