I was talking with a respected Tallahassee accountant this morning about a newlywed couple and their desire to buy a home.
Unlike newlywed couples of ten or twenty years ago who were trying to buy as much house as possible, these "kids" are conservative and looking to spend far less than their means would allow.
On the surface, they appear to be making a wise move, but a thorough review of real estate market conditions suggests there might be a smarter path for them to choose.
Real Estate Advice For A Newlywed Couple
First of all, I do not advocate "advice for all," everybody has a unique set of circumstances that must be considered for every major decision in life. I am going to address some generally good real estate advice for the newlywed couple in question. I suspect much of this can be useful for many other married couples in similar situations.
You have to live somewhere - I would first look at real estate (housing) not as an investment, but rather as a quality of life issue. If you travel a lot, perhaps you do not have the same need for a homestead than you might if you work a lot from home. Ultimately, every couple should discuss the importance of a home in the big scheme of things.
A home can be an investment - It is hard to justify spending "more money" on dining, cars, travel, entertainment, and all those other things that we want to do. They do not make sense using debt, because we consume those expenses and once they are gone, the debt remains. But a home is different. We can buy a home with the same money we would have used for a lease, and one day own the home. Because of this long-term value, we can consider a home a relatively safe place to spend "more money" than we might feel comfortable.
There is a time and a place for everything - Housing considerations for a young married couple are typically far different than for an older couple. Whether or not there are children is one huge factor, as well as security of employment. Not many people in their twenties can be confident that their careers are on track, while most people in their forties and later have a good understanding of where they will likely be in the coming years. Thus, a newlywed couple should diligently consider the likelihood of remaining in a market before they choose how deeply to invest in a home.
Real estate market cycles should factor into decision making - If a newlywed couple is unsure of their expected time in a community, they should be hesitant to make too big a leap into the housing market, regardless of real estate market cycles. But in today's environment, where interest rates are low, values are low and beginning to rebound, there is a significant opportunity for a young married couple to buy a long-term home. So if you find yourself fairly confident in your near-term future and you want to buy a home, you should explore the upside potential of buying your second home first.
Newlywed Couple Should Buy Second Home First
Most newlywed couple's first homes are simply replacements for the apartments that they have lived in over the past five or ten years. Perhaps an upgraded townhouse or condominium, or even a small single family home. This type of choice is perfect for the newlywed couple who is uncertain about their employment future.
But if you are a newlywed couple who feels confident that you will live in Tallahassee for longer than five years, you should buy your second home first. Most young married couples (not so young anymore) buying their second home choose a home with family in mind. They look at school zones, bedrooms, bathrooms, and the overall usability of the home. The backyard is important, as well as location in relation to children's activities.
Because the cost of money is so cheap, today's young married couple can buy the second home first for monthly payments very similar to yesterday's first home payments. And the likelihood for appreciation is far better today than ever, with most home values still below replacement value.
Even though a newlywed couple might not see the home as an investment first, choosing to favor the investment benefit will reward them greatly in the years to come. Not having to move after five years (like their peers) will save them time and expenses, and their quality of life will be far higher during the first five years.
So if you are a newlywed couple, and you need some help deciding what to do, simply drop me a note and we can schedule a time to review your situation as well as the entire home buying process.