Skip to main content
Preparing to shop

Consider whether it's the right time for you to buy

Buying a home is a big financial decision. Now that you’ve looked at your finances and estimated how much you can afford to pay for a home, consider whether now is the right time for you to buy.

What to do now

Compare your estimate for the home price you can afford to the prices of homes in your target area

Real estate websites can help you find general prices for neighborhoods you are interested in. If the typical home price in your target neighborhoods is more than you can afford, you can explore options in other neighborhoods or adjust your search criteria.

Explore the financial tradeoffs of renting vs. buying

If you’re currently renting, or moving to a new area, a calculator like the New York Times’s free “Is It Better to Rent or Buy?” calculator can help you assess the financial tradeoffs of renting versus buying based on your situation and the length of time you expect to be in your new home.

  • Calculators necessarily make assumptions about future economic conditions, such as the rate of home price growth. These assumptions can have a big impact on the calculator’s results. Try several different scenarios to see the range of possible outcomes.

What to know

Understand the risks and responsibilities of homeownership

Homeownership can be rewarding and a good way to build wealth. But there are risks and responsibilities associated with owning property. When you rent, your landlord is responsible for the property and takes on the risks. When you buy, you take on these risks and responsibilities:

  • Your home value could decline, and you could lose equity or even owe more than your home is worth.
  • If something breaks – for example, the furnace quits working, the roof starts to leak, or the plumbing backs up – you have to pay for often expensive repairs to get it fixed right away.

How to avoid pitfalls

In some situations, it could be better to rent

Is your current employment short-term or unstable?

  • Owning a home is a big financial commitment. If you’re not confident that you can continue earning a similar income for the foreseeable future, it might make more sense to keep renting.

Is there a chance you might move within the next few years?

  • Renters have more flexibility. It can be risky and expensive to buy if you end up needing to move again within a few years. You pay real estate agent commissions, taxes, and other transaction costs to sell your home and buy a new one.

For more information, consult the CFPB page Making the decision to rent or buy.

Visit our sources page to find more about the facts and numbers we reference.

The process and forms described on this page reflect mortgage regulations that apply to most mortgages.