Mood of the Market
But if your current financial plans didn't allow for you to buy your retirement home with integrity, falling in love with a place during a test drive should not change your decision-making. On the other hand, if you simply need to put retirement off, but it makes financial sense to buy now, while you have a salary and while prices and rates are low, then perhaps the test drive can help the property selection part of the process.
Either way, market dynamics and even falling in love with a particular home should not overshadow the personal finance and life plans that you know make sense in light of your numbers and your vision.
With all that said, I'm a huge believer that only a well-qualified, financially responsible subset of people who really want to be homeowners should buy homes.
But I also know that there are many things besides concerns that can be overcome by a stay in a home that stop even the best-qualified of wannabe buyers from moving forward, despite the current climate of high-affordability and low-rates (which are unlikely to stay this low for much longer).
More critical than the fact that a given house might not be the right one -- which is the issue ostensibly addressed by a test drive -- are the many, graver concerns with which smart buyers should rightfully be occupied.
From the long-term commitment to a mortgage, to the long-term commitment to a home or geography, to whether or not they are ready to buy or retire in the first place, buyers-to-be are smart to calculate for all these items they can't test-drive, but can plan and strategize for in their decision-making, before they test-drive or commit to a home.
Tara-Nicholle Nelson is author of "The Savvy Woman's Homebuying Handbook" and "Trillion Dollar Women: Use Your Power to Make Buying and Remodeling Decisions." Tara is also the Consumer Ambassador and Educator for real estate listings search site Trulia.com. Ask her a real estate question online or visit her website, www.rethinkrealestate.com.
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