Is now a good time to buy a home?

Ask some of your friends, relatives and neighbors whether now is a good time to buy a home, and you’ll probably get conflicting answers. Some may say yes since home prices have fallen, but others may caution you against buying now since prices may continue to fall.

The right answer is that buying a home should depend more on your own personal situation than on market conditions--or other people’s advice.

To assess your own situation, you’ll want to weigh the pros and cons of buying now or waiting and hoping that prices fall further. Here are six factors to consider:

Employment. If your income is steady, you may feel confident buying a home now. But if your job feels insecure or you might relocate to take a different job, you might not want to commit to buying a home just yet.

Mobility. If you’re planning to move within a few years, buying a home now could turn out to be a costly choice if prices in your area are declining. But if you’re planning to stay put for a while, a home could be a good long-term investment.

Budget. If you aren’t certain you can afford to own a home, buying now might not be realistic. But if you’ve assessed your budget and feel you’re financially ready to handle a house payment, plus property taxes, homeowner’s insurance and maintenance costs, becoming a homeowner may make sense for you.

Prices. If you already own a home, you may be hesistant to sell it at today’s prices. But keep in mind that if you sold your current home for less money now, you might be able to buy your next home at a lower price too.

Rent. If you’re renting and your rent is affordable, you may want to hold on to your apartment. But if rents are on the rise in your area, you might value the security of a fixed housing payment. Trading your apartment for a home also could give you several additional tax deductions.

Interest Rates. Remember that higher interest rates can wipe out the benefit of lower home prices. For example, if you had a 30-year, fixed-rate loan of $300,000 at 5.75 percent, your monthly payment would be approximately $1,751. If instead, your loan amount was only $280,000, but the interest rate was 6.5 percent, your payment would be $1,770, which would be $19 more per month.

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