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Does it Make Sense to Buy in Cambridge or Somerville in this Crazy Market?

To buy or not to buy. That is the question. In the past couple years, many of my buyer clients have asked me my opinion, and while it’s hard to give an across the board answer, I do still think buying has many advantages over renting.

When I bought my own condo, I did it for many reasons — after years of bopping around the country and the world, I was ready to put down roots in Cambridge, I wanted a home I could renovate to my own tastes for my own benefit, I was tired of living with the fear that my landlord would decide to sell my apartment and I’d never find a place as nice that would allow my dog, and I looked forward to knowing that the checks I wrote each month were building equity that I could some day cash in on, rather than fattening someone else’s bank account. My decision was clear.

Fortunately, in 2009 when I was looking, the market was a lot more balanced, and I was not faced with bidding wars at every turn. And I have asked myself what I would do if I had not bought then and was in the market now — would I still be gung ho to buy and would it still make emotional and financial sense. And for me, the answer is yes: it would still make sense for me to buy a home today, even given the lack of inventory and rising home prices.

But what about those of you out there who may be struggling to decide whether to plow ahead and buy now or hang tight in your rental for a bit longer? Well, I can tell you that I had clients who bowed out of the market when it started getting competitive in 2012 and have told me since that they wished they had stuck with their search and bought two years ago, since the market has only gotten more competitive, and rents have continued to rise right along with home prices.

I’m not one to strong arm anyone into buying a home — there are many factors that come into play, and only you can know if it makes sense for you. But if you need a little motivator, and want to examine the financial side of the equation, I highly recommend you check out The New York Timesgreat buy v. rent calculator. The best way to do it is to go into the advanced settings mode so you can plug in real numbers for condo fees, taxes, etc. to get the most accurate result. And if you’re wondering what numbers to use for any of the variables, feel free to get in touch and I’ll help you plug them in.

Is it better to buy or rent?


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