When Is The Best Time To Buy A Home? How do you answer this question?

Real Estate Agent with Century 21 Alliance


My short answer...When you are ready!  By ready I mean financially ready, willing, & able.  

It used to be that home-ownership was a primary goal in people's lives.  Now society is so wrapped up in instant gratification that we do not properly prepare for life's true expenses & do not value true accomplishments (a trip to the Caribbean every year should not be considered an accomplishment if you need to charge it!).  With all of the negative news on current state of the economy & mortgage "meltdown" blah, blah, blah...I think that we need to be better prepared for what is really important in life (yes, I am including myself in here).

I remember (growing up in a family of 6 children) wearing hand-me-down clothes & eating whatever dinner my mother could afford to prepare because paying the mortgage was the most important thing that my father could do!  The roof over our heads came well before the goal of owning an expensive car or going on exotic vacations.  By the way, my parents never had a credit card, car payment, or exotic vacation but they kept the roof over our heads & raised some great kids! 

Home-ownership may just be the most financially rewarding & self esteem boosting goals that we can have. So why do most of our first time buyers already have car payments & vacation experiences prior to having a substantial down payment?  Quite possibly it could be because we are a society based more on instant gratification rather than long-term goals.

So what do we do about it?  Getting back to the question "When is the best time to buy a home?", let's start by educating our upcoming first-time buyers well before it is time to buy.  Let's prepare our children by not giving them everything they desire the minute they ask (how many times have you bought the PSPs & Ipods only to see them collect dust in 2 weeks?)  .  Let's start teaching our kids to work for what they want and save money rather than spend.  Let's lead by example.  Let's take the time to prepare young people so they can be Financially Ready, Willing, & Able to buy a home before they spend their money on expensive cars & exotic vacations.  

I know as Realtors we are also driven by Instant Gratification and we want the quick sale to close in 2 weeks but we should also take some of our time & knowledge to help prepare our future Homeowners & future Real Estate Investors so they can be prepared when it is their turn rather than caught off guard when they need to make a move. 

My son just bought his first home at 20 years old and I will admit that I did not begin preparing him until just a few months ago but I learned a good lesson while helping him accomplish his goal of owning a home.

Your thoughts & advice are truly welcome.

Kathleen Manganello

RE/MAX of Ocean City, NJ

Working with Buyers & Sellers throughout Cape May County.


Comments (45)

Charles Stallions
Charles Stallions Real Estate Services - Pensacola, FL
800-309-3414 - Pensacola, Pace or Gulf Breeze, Fl.

Everything is instant now a days even owning a home if you look at the mess 100% loans, no income verification. I wreally worry about x, y and even last of the baby boom generation because of all this instant stuff. What will do when the generation befor the baby boomers die off. People will absolutly have no moral compass or guidance what so ever. Oh well just my thought.

Oct 21, 2008 12:55 AM
Lonnie Glessner
America's Mortgage LLC - Littleton, CO

So very true. The buyers need to be ready financially first. I believe the most important question a mortgage professional should ask a homebuyer especially a first time home buyer "is what's your monthly budget for a house payment? Then, compare that to their rent payment and savings history and see if their monthly budget number is appropriate for them. This is why in nearly 11 years in the business I have only had 1 client lose their home to foreclosure.

Oct 21, 2008 02:29 AM
Emily Lowe
RE/MAX Homes and Estates, Lipman Group - Nashville, TN
Nashville TN Realtor

Great post!  I think a lot of instant gratification is now taking a backseat as people are seriously looking at our economic reality right now.

Oct 21, 2008 02:53 AM
Karl Peidl
Moorestown, NJ
Accredited Loan Consultant

Kathleen - Thank you for this wonderful post.  I tend to work with a lot of first time home buyers and have noticed a feeling of entitlement.  Many feel they deserve the biggest and best home with no investment of their own money.  The mortgage industry certainly did fuel this fire by allowing this to happen the past few years.  Educating our customers, particularly the young ones is the most important part of our jobs.

Oct 21, 2008 03:33 AM
Ellie Viray
Deasy Penner Podley - Pasadena, CA
Realtor, GRI

Kathleen, great post. I have worked with many first time buyers, and they have so many other debts to begin with.  It will be a challenge to educate the  too many "me, me" public but as realtors we need to help them.

Oct 21, 2008 05:02 AM
Connie Harvey
Pilkerton Realtors - Brentwood, TN
Realtor - Nashville TN Real Estate

Kathleen, educating my first time home Buyers has always been something that I have focused on. After 15 years I can not tell you what a joy it is to be selling them thier 3rd or 4th home. Most of them tell me that they've come back to me because I made sure that they knew what they were doing. I don' have children. Sometimes I feel like my First Time Buyers are them.

Oct 21, 2008 06:49 AM
Joyce Logan
RE/MAX Achievers - Westerville, OH

Hi Kathleen,

You asked for thoughts and advice,.....I must say that this was a great post so I am giving you a compliment instead of advice. 

The buyer must be ready, as much as we want to sell a house after we have spent numerous days with a buyer ....the buyer must be happy...."Ain't nobody happy until the buyer is happy".  It's such a great feeling to know that you did all you could do to help find that perfect home for someone and their family!

Best wishes to you!

Joyce Logan, Realtor, Real Living HER, Columbus, Ohio

Oct 21, 2008 01:29 PM
Harriet Finkelstein

It's not always about paying the mortgage. People are fooling themselves if they think that is the litmus test for being a good (affordable) time for them to buy - for example in the case of a young couple with a baby.

Besides taxes, increased insurance, maintenance, heating, electricity costs - higher than when they were renting something smaller - they will also be experiencing increased living costs ..... the BABY!

To start with - diapers, diapers, and more diapers. Clothing, equipment and toys. Then there is daycare, immunizations, less income if a parent stays at home.

A bigger place needs more furniture. A kitchen needs appliances. The house needs an alarm system. Bigger family room? Bigger TV screen. See where this is heading? I'm holding off on the deck and dining room set.

The buyers need to understand what they are getting into and the agent must look for red flags too.



Oct 21, 2008 04:14 PM
Sean Reilly
Re/Max of Ocean City / The Reilly Team - Ocean City, NJ


I agree with your post.

I think the responsibility of determining when someone is ready to buy should be shared by the Real Estate professional as well.

Clients rely on us to help them make decisions that may shape their future. By putting our clients needs ahead of our own we can gain their trust and loyalty which in return may benefit us more in the long run even if it means delaying our own financial gratification.

Thanks for your honest informative ideas.

Sean Reilly,  RE/MAX of Ocean City , www.Oceancitytradition.com

Oct 21, 2008 04:24 PM

Let me guess, it's always the right time to buy.


It was the right time to buy in 2005, it's the right time to buy now.


Do you know what a tautology is?

Oct 22, 2008 02:47 AM
Kathleen Harron
Century 21 Alliance - Wildwood Crest, NJ

My first AR blog ever and I must say I am very pleased with the responses and I really appreciate the kind words!

I guess I am pretty excited that I received 34 very nice comments before one idiot had to come out of the woodwork and imply that I am trying to mislead people into buying a home at any time.  Well Mr or Mrs. (oh that's right...you did not include your name or contact info!), take a moment to reread my post and you will see that I do not try to convince anyone that NOW is the right time to buy a home...EVEN THOUGH I THINK IT IS!  Once again,  my 20 year old son just bought his first home...would I let him do that if I felt it was a bad time to buy???

Keep up the good work fellow AR members!


Oct 22, 2008 08:36 AM
David Green
RE/MAX at The Shore - Cape May, NJ

I think alot will change when people can at least stand behind their words and sign their name to something. I hope that wasn't "Tautology" .

Anyway , good post Kath. Anything that causes one to think is a great thing. I was in Vermont over the weekend and right before we turned our rental car in I realized the radio had only been turned on once while my wife was in a store for 5 minutes.

In cool hand luke the line was " what we have here ...... is a failure .... to communicate"  how true. Good communication is the hinge pin that brings about responsible choice. Maybe we should have a national turn off the DVD player in the car day !

Dave Green

Oct 23, 2008 06:06 AM
Karl Peidl
Moorestown, NJ
Accredited Loan Consultant

Kathleen - According to Wikipedia:

"Tautology can refer to:

I still don't know exactly what that means, however I do know the meaning of words such as integrity, responsibility, and morality.  They are character traits that you displayed in your post as you attempted to explain how to determine if it's the right time for a particular individual to but a particular home. 

Keep up the good work. 

Oct 23, 2008 09:14 AM
Doris Freeman
Reliant Realty - Gallatin, TN
Broker/Agent, Realtor

You are so right, they need to be ready and informed.

Have A Great Day

Oct 23, 2008 01:28 PM
Cristal Drake
Prudential California Realty - Fullerton, CA
Realtor - Fullerton Real Estate

Kathleen!  It looks like you are new here but I am sure you will become a quick favorite of many with great content like this!

Dec 07, 2008 06:16 AM
Marian Gregor-Ann
Keller Williams - Ann Arbor, MI
Arbor area Real Estate

Hi Kathy, You made some really good points. My parents worked hard, paid cash for every car & believed that one needed to actually earn something to truly value it.

Dec 12, 2008 01:37 PM
Tom Giansante
The Title Company of Jersey - Wildwood, NJ

Kathleen,  Nice job here!  I'm just getting back in the saddle here on AR.  Way to take it to knuckles there a few posts ago...


Dec 12, 2008 03:04 PM
Pacita Dimacali
Alain Pinel - Oakland, CA
Alameda/Contra Costa Counties CA

My stock answer: when you find a house that sings to your heart, at a price you like, with monthly payments that you can afford without being house rich but cash poor, where you think you will be happy to get settled in and entertain your friends and family. A house you can be proud to call your home.

Dec 12, 2008 05:45 PM
Kay Van Kampen
RE/MAX Broker, RE/MAX - Springfield, MO
Realtor®, Springfield Mo Real Estate

Sometimes I think we've lost some of our personal values.  My parents didn't have much money, but we had a roof over our heads, our clothes were clean and we always paid our bills.  We didn't eat out, but once a month we were treated to the movies or special outings at the local skating rink.  Let's forget trying to keep up with the Jones and get back to basics.

Dec 13, 2008 11:13 AM
Catherine Sinocruz
Coldwell Banker Select Real Estate - Reno, NV
Broker-Salesperson, ABR, GRI, CRS

Hi Kathleen,

The right time is subjective.  It all depends on the prospective buyers' situation.  They have to be ready financially and emotionally.


Dec 16, 2008 09:00 AM