Here's a question I recently received from a reader that I will call "Jack":
I'm 26. From L.A., recently moved here. Saved for a year, and moved with about 30k, (made 110k in '06) I was on disability for a year before after I almost died in an accident, so my previous savings were depleted. We are renting and working in Bellevue. Our rent for a 2 bed / 2 bath is $1,175. It's a pretty nice place outside of downtown BellevueHere's what I said to Jack:
I just closed on a 2/2 in Issaquah off of W. Lake Samm. Blvd. and I-90, for $219,950. Got good rates (I deal with loans of a different kind, so I did my homework). Anyway, my payment all in is $1,600, including approx. $140 in tax and $218 in HOA dues. Looking at the comps over the last 6 mos. I didn't steal the place, may have overpaid a couple of grand. I plan on living there for 4-5 years.
I've been well versed in med. emergencies, and work on commision, and am very worst case scenario oriented. My all in, PITI, and everything else is around 30% on the worst month i've had in a year, and around 12-15% on a good month, with plenty in reserves...
What is your HONEST opinion on this one?
My opinions on buying real estate right now are pretty simple. In general, I don't think that now is the best time to buy. However, those that do choose to buy will come out all right as long as their payment is affordable and they would be able to and wouldn't mind staying put if the price dropped to less than what they paid. Be aware that if price drops do come, it could take 5 to 10 years before prices come back up to their previous highs. By "affordable," I mean no more than 30% of gross income is going to mortgage, insurance, taxes, and HOA. Certainly there are exceptions to every rule, but it's always best not to start off with something that you can barely afford (approaching 50% of gross or more), because if a job loss or medical emergency crops up you could be in a tight spot very quickly.
So generally, I would say that if you're happy with your home, you're not stretching to make the payments, and you have a reasonable plan in case of financial problems, then more power to you. Enjoy your place.
What advice do you have for Jack, now that he has bought the condo in Issaquah?