Rent or Buy, Buying From a Builder, Selling Now or Later


Dear David,
I currently rent in a great building. My parents want me to buy a home, but that will mean getting a smaller place. With housing prices so high, shouldn’t I just wait? – Living Well

Dear Living: It can be daunting to bite the bullet, but I encourage everyone to get into the real estate market as soon as they can afford it. Instead of throwing money away that you’ll never see again, you can purchase a home with as little as 5 percent down and start building your net worth with monthly mortgage payments. I read one study that showed the net worth of homeowners to be about 45 times that of renters. If you have the means, I highly recommend taking your parent’s advice.

Dear David,
I’m buying new from a builder. It seems pretty straightforward, do I really need a Realtor? – Confident

Dear Confident: I can’t say this firmly enough: a buyer should always have their own representation. While the builder’s sales office will undoubtedly make the process sound easy, you need to remember that builders are looking after their own interests – and you need someone to be looking after yours.

We have many reputable builders in our area, but even so, Realtors are held to a high degree of fiduciary responsibility that a builder’s sales office is not. The Realtor’s role is to protect you and share information that might be overlooked, like zoning provisions that could affect your property down the road (like a quiet lot backing onto “future residential” land that looks perfect on paper, but could be facing a high-rise apartment in a few years). I also keep a safe emotional distance from the excited frenzy that can fill the sales office, and will help you select finishes and options that add perceived value on resale and can sometimes make the difference between a good investment and a great one.

It’s important to be clear about exactly what you are buying. As your Realtor, I know that life can change and I’m always thinking about your exit plan.

Dear David,
Should I sell my house now, or will I get more money if I wait until spring? – Patience

Dear Patience: Market prices tend to be driven by supply and demand; ideally, you want to sell when demand is high. Early spring is typically such a time, as it usually takes a few weeks for inventory levels to build once buyers come out of hibernation. This “seller’s market” generally normalizes as more homes hit the market. That said, you need to move when the time is right for you, and here’s why:

Most people buy and sell in the same market. Your home may sell for more in spring, but the home you buy will likely be purchased for top dollar, too. On occasion, someone wins the “spring sale” lottery, but I’ve seen people sell in the spring, wait a month to buy, and end up being priced out of the market. None of us has a crystal ball and trying to time it all just right is next to impossible.

A desirable, well-priced home will attract attention in every season. Our team uses proven strategies that achieve the best results through preparation and planning, regardless of what the market is doing.