Housing expert lays out what to consider when buying a home these days

·2 min read

The pandemic-era housing boom continues seemingly unabated in the U.S., but one financial advisor warns against getting swept up in the wave.

Buying a home is not only a major financial decision, but also a “personal decision” that should be evaluated alongside long-term plans, Van Leeuwen & Co. Managing Director and Founder Ken Van Leeuwen recently told Yahoo Finance Live.

“It's really a decision if you want to be in that community or if you think you're going to be there for a period of time,” Van Leeuwen said. It's situational and depends on your experience as a home buyer and seller.

A couple with their arms around each other gaze up at their home. (Photo: Getty)
A couple looking up at their home. (Photo: Getty)

For first-time homebuyers saving for their down payments, Van Leeuwen said it’s just like “creating any type of financial strategy.” Prospective buyers should analyze their budgets then meet with a mortgage broker who can suggest how much of a home they can afford based on current income, assets, debt, and credit.

Van Leeuwen also suggested accounting for windfalls like bonuses or raises and including those in the budget.

“Look at all your different cash flows then determine what you can afford...see if that is the kind of home you want to live in,” he said. If the current budget provides underwhelming prospects, extend the buying timeline to allow more time to save.

(Photo: Getty)
(Photo: Getty)

“It really is a process and it's better to start,” he said. “Rather than just going to an open house this weekend and deciding you want to buy a place but you haven't planned.”

One thing Van Leeuwen cautioned against is tapping into your retirement savings as a way to boost your budget. Despite the tempting tax code provision that allows investors to withdraw $10,000 from an IRA for a down payment without penalty, there’s still the income tax to be paid on it. Additionally, that money may work best for you financially if left untouched.

“That $10,000 over many years, especially if you're a millennial, can compound at a much better rate,” he said.

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Stephanie is a reporter for Yahoo Money and Cashay, a new personal finance website. Follow her on Twitter @SJAsymkos.

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