Rent or Buy? How to Pick the Right Neighborhood?
Overall, do you think it is a good idea to rent rather than buy in a new city you have just moved to? I am not sure in which area in DC I want to live – or maybe it is Ballston, Clarendon, Burke, or Potomac, Kings Farm or Kenwood Forest! Help! And of course it will matter where I land a job. I hate to throw money to the landlord, but I hate to buy in an area I may regret later. Other than living fairly close to my job, what else should I be considering about the rent-vs.-buy issue? –Renee Renter
A: If you are new to the area, you are not alone in deciding whether to rent or buy your home right now. This is a frequently asked question, and you need to evaluate some bigger issues than just the market: your life, your vision and your commitment to the area, rather than the market. It doesn’t matter if you are a first time homebuyer or a luxury home buyer! If you are new to the area, it is hard to pick a neighborhood!
If you’re going to buy, this is a great time to buy — but it’s not looking like either home prices or interest rates are going to skyrocket anytime in the next couple of years. The greater DC metro area is actually one of the few real estate markets in the country that has stayed relatively recession-proof throughout the nationwide housing crisis.
Sill, I do not advise you not to rush into buying.There is a high level of value toward “investing” your housing dollars into an asset that you own: the tax and long-term appreciation advantages from owning make renting seem like a terrible, horrible, very bad no good idea.
But on today’s market, because of the long, slow recovery path that housing appreciation will likely take over the next decade, buying a home that you can’t hold for at least seven to 10 years may not be financially wise.
The only thing worse than living in a neighborhood you cannot stand is buying in a neighborhood you cannot stand, and being stuck in that home and that neighborhood because, in the short term, your home’s value declines or even stays flat and you can’t afford to sell without coughing up thousands of your own dollars to pay off the mortgage or closing costs.
I’ve also seen newly relocated folks regret buying a home in an area they like, only to discover an area they like more after living in town for a few months.
Rethink renting as an investment in making the right decision about buying. Either get into a short-term rental or month-to-month lease and aggressively get to know your new town, even working with a real estate professional now like the Lise Howe Team who can patiently help you explore neighborhoods that seem like they might be a good fit for your personality and your lifestyle. Lise is used to people relocating to the DC area who take a number of months to find that perfect location. After all, there are lots of communities to explore and life styles to identify.
In this way, you won’t be stuck in a lease if you do happen to find “your” home and neighborhood sooner than later.
Consider areas within an easy commute from work, and some which are farther away but might offer more recreational opportunities. Decide what you want to do with your spare time — gardening, entertaining, home improvements, strolling to the coffee shop, or “downward dogging” at the local yoga studio? Do you want to drive to work or drive to play?
These sorts of decisions about the “flavor” of your desired lifestyle can influence the right neighborhood pick for you. Give us a call at the Lise Howe Team and we can help you sort out your thoughts about the various parts of the DC metro area!
If you are new to the DC area, please continue visiting the Lise Howe Team blog. We invite you to explore the finest DC metro neighborhoods through specific blogs – or start your search for DC Metro homes for sale. Of course we’d be more than happy to speak with you more about the homes in Washington DC, Bethesda, Chevy Chase, Potomac, Georgetown, Mc Lean, Great Falls and beyond! Just give us a call. We’re always happy to help you with your home search.