For a lot of people, this has been the year of transition. Work from home, back to the office, zoom school, back to campus, hybrid everything, and each month there’s a new set of rules. The big question I’ve heard a lot—is buying a home still a smart move? Is now a bad time to buy a home? What about moving out of state? Is now the time to relocate and buy a home that better fits my lifestyle?
The Rising Cost of Homeownership and the West Coast Dilemma
I’ve got clients across the west coast in California, Oregon, Washington, and Colorado. Depending on your situation, now is still a great time to buy.
Rates are still low. Inventory is low in some popular areas like the SF Bay Area, but this isn’t the case everywhere. If you’re thinking of becoming a homeowner for the first time, or selling your home and getting more house for your money somewhere else, believe it or not, you’ve got some solid options. Keep reading.
Buying a Home in Today’s Housing Market Has Its Challenges
Buying a home right now has its challenges—inflated home prices, low housing inventory, bidding wars with all-cash offers, especially in sought-after neighborhoods across the San Francisco Bay Area, Portland and Seattle.
Rates are still low, but they’re starting to rise again.
If you’ve got a high credit score and liquid assets, you’ll have the upper hand when it’s time to make an offer. But over-bidding can be a risky move. No one knows the future of the housing market.
If you’re thinking about making an offer, shopping for a new home, or relocating to another state, there are many options ready and waiting for you.
First Things First: How much home can I afford?
Set a Budget
First, figure out your real-life budget. Take a look at the past year and take inventory. Be honest about where you’re spending, saving, investing, and where there’s room to shift gears.
Use a Mortgage Calculator
Check out the mortgage calculator and find out what you can afford. A mortgage calculator can help set a tangible goal toward homeownership. Also, it will provide a ballpark budget to help estimate your price range before you start shopping.
Calculate Your Real-Life Cost of Living
Once you’ve got your budget, you’ll know what you’re spending on average for groceries, commuting, gym memberships, restaurants, kids’ expenses, sports, and everything in between. Be realistic about where and how you spend money. And take into consideration anything that might change in your new location.
Maybe you wouldn’t have to commute anymore. Or you might decide to enroll your children in private schools. Will you be further from family and need to travel more often to visit?
Choose Your Desired Location for Your New Home
Next, narrow down the areas you’d like to buy. Where can you see yourself purchasing a new home? The housing prices might be shocking at first—super low or too high! The good news is that there are several variables to help determine how much you can afford.
Check out the cost of living in your desired areas. Housing prices will be the most obvious, but don’t forget to look at the general cost of living, too. Food and dining, transportation, entertainment, public vs. private school, and so on.
If you’re looking to move from California to Oregon or Washington, the cost of living will most likely be much different. And when your cost of living shifts, that can bump your affordability for your next home. Lower cost of living? Now you can afford a little more house.
A Short Lifestyle Q&A
Think about what’s important to you in your new home and the lifestyle you’d like to build.
- near the highway, city life, rural and quiet
- near medical services, shopping malls
- walking distance to dining and entertainment
- easy access to mountain biking, hiking, and trails
- close to skiing, golf, lakes, all-terrain
- public vs. private schools
- transportation options, commuting
- neighborhood culture, parks, community events
- access to airports for frequent travel
Get Started: Find Your Next Perfect Home
When you’re ready to start house hunting, check out open houses and community events. Virtual open houses and events across different cities can be helpful, but ultimately, you’ll want to visit your new neighborhood in person. And ideally, travel and visit the area more than once.
Scope out the neighborhoods, drive around at night, see what life is like during the week and on the weekends. Try out the activities you’re looking forward to enjoying: restaurants, hiking, parks, downtown city life, the coastline?
I’ve worked with clients across California, Oregon, Washington, and Colorado, and there are many great loan options available! I’d love to help connect you with a realtor and help you get started on your pre-approval. Together, we can put everything in place early on, so you’re ready to make an offer that wins.