Should We Ever Buy a House?

Janelle and her husband are on Baby Step 2. They move every two or three years due to their jobs, and Janelle wonders if it ever makes sense to buy a house in that case. Dave says not usually.

QUESTION: Janelle in Dayton and her husband are on Baby Step 2. They move every two or three years due to their jobs, and Janelle wonders if it ever makes sense to buy a house in that case. Dave says not usually.

ANSWER: Very seldom, especially when you’re in a lethargic real estate market. Some of these markets have come back alive and are doing very well and some of them are worse than slow, so it depends on where you’re moving.

The deal is this: Can you get out of the house and get it sold at all when you move? It depends on the market. If you move into a really hot market where things are buzzing, then the answer is yes. The question is can you sell it for enough more than you paid for it to cover the costs? Otherwise you’ll be writing a check for home ownership, and that’s not really a plan either.

The answer that we deal with most of the time, like when we talk with military families, is that most of the time, a two-year window is not enough to own. There is a rare example occasionally, where you have a rapidly escalating price market and a hot market where you can turn the property that it does make sense to own. But if you’re not careful, you’ll end up with rental property stuck back there in all the other places you used to live because there were homes you couldn’t sell.

You don’t want dotted rental properties like bread crumbs that trail from everywhere you’ve lived. In most cases, I would rent in this scenario. But if you found a real estate market that was on fire and you were convinced you could get your money back out of the house, then you’d be all right.

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