Buy That House! What Are You Waiting For?

For the past few years, the question on every homebuyer's lips has been: Are we at the bottom of the real estate market? Allow me to propose an answer: It doesn't matter.

First of all, if the motive for your inquiry is financial, the smarter question to ask is whether we are at the bottom of the interest rate ladder. A house selling for less next year may still cost you more if interest rates are higher a year from now -- and all indications are that they will be.

But the larger question that buyers should be asking themselves is one put most articulately by Inman columnist Tara Nicholle-Nelson, who asks: Why do you align your real estate purchases with the market and not your life?

In other words, why would you delay buying your retirement dream home in Florida because you think that next year it might sell for a little less? What's the sense of keeping your family -- new baby and all -- living in a cramped rental just because you think prices could fall another few percentage points? Let's face it: No one has a crystal ball, and no one knows precisely when any given home will hit its lowest-ever sales price.

Tara's argument -- and mine -- is that timing the market isn't the most important thing. When it comes to the homes we live in, we live in them a good long while. Even if you pay more now, will it ultimately matter that much in the decades to come? Decades that you've spent watching your kids grow up in a family house or in a home that allows you to comfortably age in place.

Where does the paralyzing fear of buying a home come from? Perhaps public pressure is behind it. For the past few years, we've defined one another by where we've stood in the real estate market. You were "greedy" if you succumbed to the pressure to buy the most house you could afford -- the mantra of the mid-1990s. You were "stupid" if you grabbed onto one of those adjustable rate mortgages readily available and sanctioned by the major lenders. And as a renter, you used to be "too broke to own," but now you are "too wise to buy."

But what's the point of delaying our dreams and our needs, just from fear that we may get snookered -- however slight the snooker -- again. Nobody wants to be the last soldier killed in the war and nobody wants to be the last guy who paid too much for a house. But somebody has to be.

More on AOL Real Estate:
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Get property tax help from our experts.

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