Seattle Residential: I Do That: Don't Buy A Home Now

Don't Buy A Home Now

There are reasons why I say don't buy a home now. Let me give them to you.

You can read on and Trulia and Zillow and numerous other websites the Five, or Eight, or Ten reasons to buy, hints to sell, techniques to get a great deal and so on. There are reasons you should not buy a home now, and I'm not just talking about the Seattle residential real estate market. 

The first question you have to ask yourself, and it is one I ask every new buyer at our first interview, Do you really want to be a homeowner? It seems like that is a rhetorical question. Of course the buyer wants to buy a home. That is why he is in the office. The usual answer is, Well, yeah! And I always appreciate the enthusiasm. Then I ask, And what kind of down payment do you have saved up? And the answer tells me how motivated the buyer has been for long enough to save up whatever he has for the down. 

Three fingersSometimes the answer to the first question is, My folks really want me to.

And sometimes the answer is, All of my friends are.

And even, Not really but I guess I should.

These are three good answers that should be telling you that now is not the time for you to be buying a home.

A while back I was showing homes to a couple who were renting and they wanted to see a home just down the street from where they lived. I showed them that home and we chatted, but not enough. They both had good jobs, but very little to put down. They could only look week nights, because they liked to go skiing every weekend. When at the places we looked at, he was always looking for the spot where the big flat-screen TV would go, which they didn't own yet. 

Unfortunately, I wasn't listening very well. I found them just what they said they wanted and we made an offer that was accepted. At the inspection it turned out that they had changed their minds. There was so much to do and they would have to give up the ski weekends, and the TV and probably a few other activities they loved, once the winter changed into spring. So they didn't buy. They weren't ready to be homeowners quite yet.

So that is a reason not to buy a home now. You have a decent job but you're not ready to give up a few of life's pleasures to save up the down payment.

Here's another good one. You have a job and there is lots of opportunity to move up the ladder quickly, but it would mean a transfer to another city. Look in to the company transfer policy. If they won't fund the move and cover any loss you might have from the sale of your home, it might be better to wait.

house flippingAre you buying a home to flip and make a lot of money like Uncle Harry? Flipping is a job and akin to being an investor. Don't buy into this lifestyle unless you can afford to lose your investment.

It's harder these days to buy a house for very good reasons. Too many people who shouldn't have been homeowners bought when it was easy and now many of them are complaining that they were treated unfairly.

Homeownership isn't for everyone. If you're not ready to make sacrifices and save up for the down payment, don't even go there. If you don't like home maintenance, and can't afford to have every needed repair hired out, perhaps you should be a renter. When you are ready to be a homeowner, give a Realtor® a call. In Seattle call me. My number is right below.






Glenn Roberts



Comment balloon 53 commentsGlenn Roberts • May 03 2011 06:49PM


I like your questions to ask a buyer Glenn.  It's definitely a good idea to make sure they really WANT to be a home owner and have a somewhat realistic idea of what exactly that means.  Certainly some people just aren't ready - & that's OK.

Posted by Nancy Conner, Olympia/Thurston County WA over 9 years ago

Nancy - Episodes like that one remind me that I don't and never will know everything.

Posted by Glenn Roberts (Retired) over 9 years ago

Glenn, at first I was not sure where you were going with the title. But some people should not be buying until they are really ready. I liked the point about the possible transfer. I see that a lot. And  it's a bad time to be selling. Thanks for sharing.

Posted by Thomas OBrien, Atlantic County Short Sales Agent, CDPE (RE/MAX Platinum Properties) over 9 years ago

Glenn ~  This shows a great deal of insight -- you've made some excellent points; thank you.

Posted by Tish Lloyd, Broker - Wilmington NC and Surrounding Beaches (BlueCoast Realty Corporation) over 9 years ago

Thomas - I've run across two financial analysts lately with their own axes to grind about home ownership. They appeared to be quite young, may live somewhere like Manhattan and possibly can't afford to buy. The financials missed the point of earning that equity over time.

Posted by Glenn Roberts (Retired) over 9 years ago

Tish - It's not easy and you better really want it. Otherwise, everyone is spinning wheels. 

Posted by Glenn Roberts (Retired) over 9 years ago

Glenn, I have personally been buying and selling real estate sinse I was 20 years old. A family friend talked me into buying five acres of land and two years later I sold that and made a $22,000 profit.

I have never lost money in real estate as of yet but recently I failed to optimize my profits.

So I say go for it when asked... 

Posted by Paul S. Henderson, REALTOR®, CRS, South Puget Sound Washington Agent/Broker! (Fathom Realty Washington LLC) over 9 years ago

Paul - I  would say that you were and are an ambitious and capable sort of man and took to the advice enthusiastically. Some of the 30 year olds I've talked to in the past year probably still take their laundry home to mom.

Posted by Glenn Roberts (Retired) over 9 years ago

I think most should buy, I just think they don't always need as expensive as they think.. overbuying is what got a lot of folks in trouble in the past few years...

Posted by Sheila Newton Team Anderson & Greenville SC, Selling the Upstate since 1989 (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices - C. Dan Joyner) over 9 years ago

Glenn - considering that so many people bought homes who couldn't afford them and that's how we ended up where we are, I think you are giving out, sound, pragmatic advice. Home ownership isn't for everyone - it's a big. long term financial responsibility and as you pointed out - be prepared for maintenance and upkeep which can be very costly.

Posted by Kristine Ginsberg, NJ Home Stager (Elite Staging and Redesign, LLC) over 9 years ago


I see endless marketing by agents trying to convert renters to buyers, and it just isn't my approach.  Far better to work with buyers who have independently arrived at the conclusion that they want to be homeowners, I think.

Posted by Mike Jaquish, 919-880-2769 Cary, NC, Real Estate (Realty Arts) over 9 years ago

Sheila - Keep the budget under control is key to happiness. Skiing for some. Long term equity building for others.

Kristine - Just like, maybe it's too easy to be a realtor, it was way too easy to get a loan.

David - There has to be real desire. It's a tough course to go through.

Mike - I think so too.

Posted by Glenn Roberts (Retired) over 9 years ago

Eye-catching title, Glenn and some great reasons not to buy for those who are not ready.

Posted by Jane Peters, Los Angeles real estate concierge services (Home Jane Realty) over 9 years ago

Jane - I find financial explanations so contrived that I looked for some real reasons. And there they are.

Posted by Glenn Roberts (Retired) over 9 years ago

Oh I so many don't really understand waht is involved in being a home owner ...we definitely need to ask questions...and abotu the type of a home they buy....I had clients who were so price conscious that they were looking at major fixer uppers....but they were constantly running with their 3 children...we finally found them a home that was flipped...and doesn't need any work!!! Yeah!  they don't hve time to fix up a home...and in the long run they will save money because they won't have as many repairs!!!

Posted by Deborah Byron Leffler BzyBee Real Estate Lady! (Keller Williams Realty Boise) over 9 years ago

Deborah - Buyers are not liars. It just takes them a while to realize what they really want and what they can handle.

Posted by Glenn Roberts (Retired) over 9 years ago

Great questions, Glenn. When working with buyers, I want them to be excited about putting down roots, painting rooms to fit their tastes, having room for hosting family dinners--all sorts of reasons. I want to see the emotional commitment. When it's not there, I agree it's probably not the right decision. Nicely put.

Posted by Lottie Kendall, Helping make your real estate dreams a reality (Compass) over 9 years ago

Glenn, and I have a feeling fewer are ready than will admit it too.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 9 years ago


Sometimes people are out there looking for all the wrong reasons.  I love the way that you brought that out and sometimes they just aren't prepared for what it entails.

Posted by Don Barrett (Integrity Real Estate Services) over 9 years ago

Thanks for the post, I enjoyed the read.


Patricia/Seacoast NH & ME

Posted by Patricia Aulson, Realtor - Portsmouth NH Homes-Hampton NH Homes (BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY HOME SERVICES Verani Realty NH Real Estate ) over 9 years ago

The title threw me at first, but I do see where you are coming from.  It is acually our responsibility to bring these factors to all of our buyers so they can make sure they are ready to buy, or don't become house poor to the point that all they can afford to do is sit at home and make the payment.  Great blog Glenn!  Thanks

Posted by Colin Call, Principal Broker (RE/MAX Integrity) over 9 years ago

You are super smart to ask the basic questions like do you want to be a homeowner and what have you saved up for the deposit? They may be basic but very telling depending on the answers.

Posted by Betsy Schuman Dodek, (Washington Fine Properties - Washington DC Area Real Estate) over 9 years ago

Hi Glenn.  I'm sure your clients appreciate you asking those questions.  That line of questioning clearly demonstrates that you indeed are looking out for their best interest.  Knowing how committed they are from the outset is very valuable information to have, especially if they end up getting cold feet after you show them a dozen houses.  Also, doing the unexpected is never really a bad thing in my book.  Thanks for a thought provoking post.  Have a great evening.

Posted by Mitch Gover ( over 9 years ago

While they are saying Glenn, please remind them to save for the home inspection and appraisal too.  And although considered part of the down payment, let's have a little talk about that earnest money too.

Posted by Charita Cadenhead, Serving Jefferson and Shelby Counties (Alabama) (eXp Realty) over 9 years ago

Glenn, very good post, the idea and dream of owning a home is not for everyone.  Sometimes the yard and picket fence are not what a buyer really wants but a great condo with zero maintenance could be perfect.  The education phase prevents buyers remorse.  Thank you !

Posted by Tanya Runkle, NMLS/MLO#307502 (America's Premier Mortgage) over 9 years ago

Glenn -- Great post.  Homeownership is NOT for everyone.  I am thinking of one couple right now who I know personally, purchased their house years ago, have considerable equity but both combined have not done one hour's worth of work and maintenance on that house....which was once beautiful and pristine.  They just 'live' there and take no pride in ownership. Their neighbors are not too happy with them.

Posted by Barbara Altieri, REALTOR-Fairfield County CT Homes/Condos For Sale (Kinard Realty Group Fairfield and New Haven County CT Real Estate) over 9 years ago

Great advise and congrats on the feature, most of the time the buyers remorse comes out and it is better sooner than later in the transaction.

Posted by Christine O'Shea (Christine E O'Shea Broker) over 9 years ago

Home ownership is not for everyone... that is for sure.  We have to be good listeners to determine whether an propsect is worth our time.

Posted by Anonymous over 9 years ago

Glenn, excellent post. rarely does someone address issues you just pointed out. In the end, not everyone is cut out to be a homeowner. At least not to own a single family. Condo is an easier purchase because of lesser upkeep efforts. Yet costs of mortgage plus condo fee plus insurance plus taxes (especially when they are high in certain neighborhoods) might be close to what you pay in rent.

Posted by Anna Tolstoy (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage) over 9 years ago

A very common sense approach to home ownership. It's really not for everyone. I'm glad the clients got out when they did instead of realizing their mistake once they were completely overwhelmed.


Posted by Mel Ahrens, MBA, Kelly Right Real Estate, Customized Choices for your Real Estate Needs (Kelly Right Real Estate) over 9 years ago

Nice Post Glenn - I have had a few of those - these days I think I am better at spotting them, but then again, not always...

Posted by Terkel Sørensen, Realtor, 951.805.0773 , Bank owned and Short Sales (Real Estate Places) over 9 years ago

In general - I think it is best NOT to buy a house for the reasons sited above.  The biggest thing with me - TIME!!!!   If you buy - buy something you can stay in a while.  5 years MINIMUM but 7 years is better.  Trying to further than that into the murky future - please don't make me polish my crystal one knows that far ahead.

Posted by Ruthmarie Hicks (Keller Williams NY Realty - 120 Bloomingdale Road #101, White Plains NY 10605) over 9 years ago

Thanks al for the many comments. 'm on a vacation starting toda and don't get much computer time.

Posted by Glenn Roberts (Retired) over 9 years ago

It all comes down to the interviewing process.  If their replies are iffy, then it pretty much may be telling you that they may not really committed at this time...I think  we all have gone thru a buyer's remorse at one time or another.

Posted by Ronald DiLalla, No. Orange Cty Real Estate (Century 21 Discovery DRE 01813824) over 9 years ago


You make some great points, I just had this discussion with a few of my friends the other night. Although I believe it is the right time to buy a home, most people don't truly understand the responsibility in home ownership. On the other side of the coin, I recently read an article on MSN that stated some wealthy people are waiting until they see a true upward turn before they buy. It may be to late then. We will see.

Posted by Michael Durnell, Escondido Home Inspector (PRP Inspections ) over 9 years ago

Hi Glenn, These are good questions for young buyers and you have given me an idea for a similar list of questions for older sellers who have or are in the process of losing the ability to maintain their homes and yards, or they are now too far from their kids & grandkids, or because medical needs have made it necessary to move closer to medical care providers or even assisted living communites. Thanks for posting.

Posted by George Bennett, Inactive Principal Broker, GRI (Inactive) over 9 years ago
Glen, hit the report concern message on this post to get rid of the spam comments.
Posted by Cheryl Ritchie, Southern Maryland 301-980-7566 (RE/MAX Leading Edge over 9 years ago

Good Post.  I also wasn't sue where you were going with the title, but you are right and homeownership is not for everyone.  People who don't like maintenance can always opt to purchase a condo. 

Posted by Jeremy Joslin, Professional Real Estate Marketing and Sales (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage) over 9 years ago

Interesting perspective Glenn.  Yes, home ownership isn't for everyone.  Many young buyers jumped on the bandwagon because they didn't want to get passed by for when they were ready.  We suspect that the huge rise in renters is partially a result of people's recognition that there are other alternatives. 

Posted by Howard and Susan Meyers (The Hudson Company Winnetka and North Shore) over 9 years ago

Its so true that some people are just not ready to be homeowners yet. Being a homeowner entails an extra set of responsibilities that renting does not require. SO if you are not ready to take that plunge you feel like you are running out of air the further into the contract it goes, and thats when you end up with a cancelled contract. Better to dig into the situation a little more in the first place to feel out these people out. 

Posted by Rosalie Evans, The Evans Group, Sioux Falls, SD Homes For Sale (Meritus Group Real Estate) over 9 years ago

Glenn, what an interesting post and instead of holding up your sign that says BUY NOW!  ITS A GREAT TIME TO BUY! ETC. ETC. ETC.  You shed some light by telling the truth to homebuyers and that says a whole lot about you as an agent.  Very well written and respected post with not just garble about buying a home but the honest truth.

Posted by Gina Chirico, Real Estate Agent - Essex County, New Jersey (Lattimer Realty) over 9 years ago

Great post Glenn.  A very responsible look at home buying.  So many people buy for the wrong reason.  It's definitely a good idea to really feel out your buyers before investing hours of time into them and then find out they are not yet ready to buy.  I've been there...  Good reminder to ask the tough questions.

Posted by Kelly Wuthrich, Eagle & Meridian ID Real Estate (Silvercreek Realty-Eagle, Meridian, Boise, Kuna, Star~IDAHO) over 9 years ago

Glenn, your are absolutely right! Buying a home is a commitment and should be thoroughly thought out before making a purchase.

Posted by Michael Setunsky, Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA over 9 years ago


Longer term it usually makes more sense to own than rent, however, rental has its advantages.

In Canada, a principal residence is exempt from capital gains tax, so that encourages home ownership here.


Posted by Brian Madigan, LL.B., Broker (RE/MAX West Realty Inc., Brokerage (Toronto)) over 9 years ago

It is true, that not everyone should own a home, You do have to work towards it... and even if you want one, if you think you will sell it in a few short years, you are probably better off renting. RE is a great longterm investment, but the short run has to many "IFs"

Posted by Robert Rauf (HomeBridge Financial Services (NJ)) over 9 years ago

I think you are right Glenn.  Most people really don't know about everything that comes with home ownership.  It's kind of like the guy who wants a puppy cause it's cute and all and then reality sets in when you have to walk him several times a day.

Posted by Morris Massre, Real Estate Instructor Broward County Florida over 9 years ago

I think I have read 10 posts in the last couple of weeks listing reasons to buy a home, so your article caught me by surprise! Really thoughtful post though, buying a home is a huge commitment that not everyone is ready for.

Posted by Torgie Madison, Websites and Contact Management (Quicksilver Real Estate Solutions, LLC) over 9 years ago

Glenn, so many people buy into the notion that they have to buy a home without considering the and maintenance...not a step to go blindly into...homeownership is definitely not for everyone.

Posted by Nick T Pappas, Madison & Huntsville Alabama Real Estate Resource (Assoc. Broker/Broker ABR, CRS, SFR, e-Pro, @Homes Realty Group, @HomesBirmingham & Providence Property Mgmnt, LLC Huntsville AL) over 9 years ago

Great post and well thought out Glenn! My nephew is in his early 20s and is just buying his 1st home, he is definitely ready to make the commitment, his dad is the one who wasn't ready for him to make that step!

Posted by Wanda Kubat-Nerdin - Wanda Can!, So Utah Residential, Referral & Relocation REALTOR (Red Rock Real Estate) over 9 years ago

Hi Glen, I hope you are enjoying your vacation.  You've made numerous excellent points here.  I also like your comment #17...."Buyers are not liars. It just takes them a while to realize what they really want and what they can handle."  I think that is part of our job...helping them understand what they want. 

Posted by Sondra Meyer:, See It. Experience It. Live It. (Star View Real Estate ) over 9 years ago

Hi Glenn-you are right a lot of people are doing it for the wrong reason but there are still some incredible values out there

Posted by Tim Peterson, Realtor Safety Training Classes (Wisconsin Realtor Safety and Concealed Carry Classes) over 9 years ago

Tim - That's the Costco/Walmart mentality. Because it's a good deal you should buy it. A home is too important. But I agree...there are good deals out there.

Posted by Glenn Roberts (Retired) over 9 years ago

What a great post! You are right it isn't your family, your friends or the media that is going to be paying for that home and the upkeep it is you and unless you really want it, then don't buy it or you are just buying into hype not a home.

Posted by Todd Clark, Principle Broker Oregon (eXp Realty LLC) over 9 years ago