Hello. I wanted to ask a rent vs buy a home question in Portland, Oregon. Is it time to buy my first home?

Asked by Dazed And Confused, 97225 Wed Aug 24, 2011

I am just starting a new job - guarantee for two years then to be offered partnership. My credit score is > 775. I have at least 100K liquid for a down payment if necessary. I have been renting my entire life - but in the same space for the past 2.5 years. This would be my first home. Is it time? What would those who are in the property world do? Thanks in advance.

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Carla Muss-J…, , Portland, OR
Wed Aug 24, 2011
HOLY SOLID BUYER BATMAN!! What are you waiting for?!?

From what you're writing, you shouldn't be Dazed and/or Confused. You are certainly in a position to take advantage of the low market values in the Metro Portland Market.

Here's a Buyer's "tip" article I recently wrote: http://actvra.in/fwR

I've got more tips for buyers, so be sure to check out my blogs. I also offer a free one-hour consultation to first time buyers. Might be beneficial.

Best of luck . . .

Carla Muss-Jacobs, Principal Broker/Owner
EBA Portland, LLC
7 votes
Jane Peters, Agent, Los Angeles, CA
Wed Aug 24, 2011
I'm with Debe, Dazed. If you want someone you can trust to guide you through the buying process, Carla is your agent. I wouldn't hesitate to refer my clients to her. Put yourself in her hands. They are great ones.
Web Reference:  http://www.homejane.com
3 votes
Dazed And Co…, , 97225
Wed Aug 24, 2011
Thanks to everyone that took the time to answer this question and generate this thread. My motivation for home purchase is purely fiscal in terms of tax savings. After using payment calculators, it seems to make fiscal sense to purchase a home. However, I do not know how much to spend to generate the most tax relief. I will need the advice of a CPA soon, I guess. That is my principle rationale: lifestyle, # of kids, etc. does not factor in. Given the fact that my partnership is pending, I think home ownership is best deferred. Perhaps a vacation home is a better idea.

Again, thank you to everyone who took the time to respond. Kind regards to all.
1 vote
Debe Maxwell, Agent, Charlotte, NC
Wed Aug 24, 2011
Hi Dazed and Confused! I just wanted to make a recommendation here. Carla Muss-Jacobs is an agent that many agents across the nation refer buyers to. We've all heard RAVE reviews of her work with our trusted clients which is so important to us when referring a client to someone in a different city or state. Carla represents ONLY buyers so, you are certain to get the utmost in professionalism and she's a tough negotiator as well. I highly recommend Carla for the job! Best of luck with your first time home purchase.
1 vote
Renee Stilson, , Portland, OR
Wed Aug 24, 2011
Everyone has their right timing, your timing might not be the same as the next person's. You sound excited about owning your own home, the interest rates right now are amazingly low and we all know that home prices are low! When considering buying a home, you would want to be able to make a 2-5 year commitment to owning as the cost of buying a selling would be best recouped in that amount of time. Your credit score and employment look good, talking to a reputable lender and going through the pre-approval process will be a great next step.

I'd be happy to chat with you about your specific needs, feel free to contact me.
1 vote
Dave Sutton, Agent, Portland, OR
Wed Aug 24, 2011
You might want to start with the numbers. Trulia has a good rent vs. buy calculator at

Working with that for 10-15 minutes should show you how much it is to your financial advantage to buy, but of course that's not the only question to be answered. Do you want to be responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of a house? If you don't (or can't) then a condo or townhouse is probably a good alternative.

It may come as a shock, but I recommend that you not start with a Realtor until you've had a conversation with a lender. The reason you want to start there is that you want to learn how much home you can buy for a payment you're comfortable with. Don't try to do that yourself. It will only bring you grief. I can recommend two good ones. Mark Boeck at Windermere Mortgage (503) 497-5367 MBoeck@Windermere.com or Kelly Parkman at NW Mortgage (503) 528-9800 KParkman@NWMortgageGroup.com
0 votes
Jane Peters, Agent, Los Angeles, CA
Wed Aug 24, 2011
I'm with Debe, Dazed. If you want someone you can trust to guide you through the buying process, Carla is your agent. I wouldn't hesitate to refer my clients to her. Put yourself in her hands. They are great ones.
Web Reference:  http://www.homejane.com
0 votes
Richard Ness, Agent, Beaverton, OR
Wed Aug 24, 2011
You look at the crystal ball of life and the signs point to xxxxx Everyone has to live somewhere and in a general sense owning your own home as a credit decision is better. Stability wise owning your own home should a high degree of comfort for your future. The rates are at historic lows and prices are reasonable. Look at the negatives and if they outweigh the stability you would have by being able to plan for the future maybe you will find your answer. If you need help feel free to ask.
Richard Ness
Oregon First
0 votes
Lana Lavenba…, Agent, Grants Pass, OR
Wed Aug 24, 2011
I think that you need to own your own home - rent is getting expensive enough that it no longer makes any sense. You would have a nice interest write off for your taxes each year, you would be able to do anything you want with the home and not lose any money doing it because it is your own. As things turn, and they always do, you will have great equity in a home that you can make a profit on in years to come. Just be sure to make "smart" decisions in buying! Best of luck to you.. I know you will make out very well!
0 votes
Marvin Von R…, Agent, Tigard, OR
Wed Aug 24, 2011
We may be in somewhat of a buyers market but its not that easy. The majority of sales are SHORT SALES and REO inventory. You buy from the bank or from the actual seller after their lender agrees to take less than the original mortgage because the homes values has dropped. (A 'short' sale)

I value properties for companies hired by the lenders. Ive done about 1,700 of them over the past 18 months. Its going to make me very unpopular to say this but I dont feel its (GENERALLY) a good time to buy. Projections from many data companies are for another 20% drop in values! SOme salespeople are pushing current low rates as a way to push people into decisions. If you look at the payment difference between 1% interest increments, its not that big a deal if you lose 1 or 2 percent interest. The overall price matters more if you can get a great deal. Speaking of deals---these short sales and Real Estate Owned (REO) are usually not a deal at all. They are NORMAL. They have dropped from historic high values but those were inflated anyway by dangerous no-qualifying mortgages. These prices are now going to what they WOULD HAVE BEEN. The few exceptions Im seeing are some lenders who just want to get rid of inventory and take lowball offers on REO. You can get a good buy if you shop hard and have a knowledge of the market, area and process of dealing with the crazy lenders.

Thats the housing/market end of the question.

Regarding now being the time for you to buy, as others have said we dont know enough about your circumstances, desires, future plans, etc. Tax issues are important. It may be that you should find a cheap rental and invest your money until you know where you will land. I dont see Portland real estate values increasing for years. (sorry fellow salespeople)
0 votes
Kevin Levy, Agent, Portland, OR
Wed Aug 24, 2011
Looking at the history of the real estate market, watching home prices go up and down, and watching interest rates jump up very high and back down, we are seeing a time where the home prices and interest rates both cross paths at a low point. That is a GREAT combination for home buyers.
It sounds like you have your finances secured, which is important. I also work with a couple of Mortgage Brokers that are on your side to help with finding the best interest rate for you, I'm happy to send them your way. If you feel you are ready to take that next step into home ownership, now is a great time. Now, where to move is also an important question?
I've created a neighborhood guide to help you with that decision- http://relocationtoportland.com/portland-neighborhoods/ It's a neighborhood guide which includes ALL of the homes for sale within those neighborhoods. It's one of the most powerful interactive home searching maps in Portland.

If you are looking for fun places of interest that lie within many of your favorite neighborhoods, you can check out this great link: http://relocationtoportland.com/category/101-cool-portland-places/

You are welcome to call or email me anytime, I'm always happy to help.

Kevin Levy
Oregon Broker/ Portland Realtor
M Realty
0 votes
Dragos Tavir…, Agent, Portland, OR
Wed Aug 24, 2011
My advise to you is to sit down with your CPA and take a look on how buying a property will impact your income-tax and then get in touch with a mortgage/bank and see what you can qualify for and what will be your monthly mortgage and how would you feel paying that amount of money (or vice-versa). With your credit score and the money you mention I'm sure you can get a nice deal in the area but who can decide on what do with your life from now on better than yourself? Of course you'll need to know the properties' prices in a particular area in order to see if you'd like to live there or if you can afford to buy in that particular area but I still think it's a better idea to see where you stand at this time so I come back with: get in touch with a mortgage/bank because they can do a buy vs rent chart so you can get an idea if it's better to still rent or if it's the right time to buy. Rates are great these days.
For the part related with properties' prices I would be pleased to provide you as much information as I can. Also, if don't work with a particular lender, I can put you in touch with reliable companies in the area.
All the best.
0 votes
Marge Bare, Agent, Portland, OR
Wed Aug 24, 2011
Hi Dazed and Confused (perfect nickname!)
as already said, there's whether you can, and whether it fits into your life. Whether you can is up to a lender, that's your first step. From what you said, it would appear you're more than ready and capable of buying a home. You have good credit it seems, and a good rental history. The big question is a new job, and that would depend on lending guidelines and if its a new type of work for you, or just the same work for a new company. You definitely need to figure that out.

As far as the 2 year guarantee, I would definitely try to buy while you have that set income before you change to a partnership. I dont know the particulars of the partnership but it could be that a lender would not look as favorably on a new partnership, so before that change would be better.

as far as a good time to buy, I'm getting out my crystal ball now... most people agree prices aren't going up, from there, opinions abound. Will they go down a bit, will they stabilize but stay stagnant, that varies by opinion and will also vary by where you're buying. Our inner city has not gone down as much as other areas, and remained more stable. the rest of the city and outskirts vary, but that research is done as part of the buying process and a Realtor can help with that information.

with what little I know, I say you're a great candidate to at least take the first step and contact a lender. FIrst time buyers have a tendency to go to their bank. I highly recommend a local Mortgage Broker with local underwriting, or a credit union. Just my opinion.

Bottom line, take the first step to make sure the new job isn't an issue, they may want to see 6 months or more on the new job, that will be up to them. But go for it!

If you want to see what's out there, my website (link below) has a free search of neighborhoods in Portland and the suburbs so you can see what's out there that you might like. Then once you have your pre-approval in hand, you can get serious about looking, and with the current rates and availability of homes, its a great time!
Best to you,
Web Reference:  http://www.betterhomesnw.com
0 votes
Michael Sull…, , Portland, OR
Wed Aug 24, 2011
Hi D&C,
If you are ready to own a home then it certainly is a great time to buy. The reason is simple: Rates are low! Being able to borrow money at a low cost is really an opportunity that should be taken advantage of, again, if doing so is right with you. I would suggest you talk to your CPA, your financial planner and a mortgage broker so you can get all of the information you need to make this decision. With out the facts, you just won't know what to do. To answer your final question, many of my peers and myself included have purchased homes (if not refinanced) simply because it's so affordable right now.
Good luck and let me know if you need any other information as I welcome group meetings with your other key advisors.
Michael Sullivan
503 445 9525
0 votes
Donn Rasch, Agent, Clackamas, OR
Wed Aug 24, 2011
The short answer: It depends.
The long answer: It still depends.

It would be nice to be able to "time" the market and buy at the bottom. But that will only become evident in hindsight. If you do decide to buy in this "buyers market" buy below your means. There are some great deals out there and finance rates are awesome! I'm here as a resource if you need me. Best of luck in this process, and please feel free to reach out with any questions at all.
Web Reference:  http://donnrasch.com/
0 votes
Adrian Gaste…, , Portland, OR
Wed Aug 24, 2011
I will agree with Mr. Majors the only person who can answer this question is you. With Housing at an all time low along with interest rates it definitely is a buyer game. Good luck and if you want to make sure you qualify call one of us lenders to give you an estimate and see what makes more sense for you.
0 votes
Heather Wrig…, Agent, The Dalles, OR
Wed Aug 24, 2011
Its a great time to buy! Interest rates are at an all time low and home prices are great! Portland is such a great place to buy as well, there are so many excellent unique neighborhoods. Sounds like your now in a great place in your life to take the leap and buy. If I can answer any questions, please feel free to contact me.
0 votes
Don Tepper, Agent, Burke, VA
Wed Aug 24, 2011
It sounds as if you're able to buy. (Check with a lender to confirm that.) So, the question is: Should you?

As I expect most everyone here will say, that's a personal decision. Depends on you.

Here are a couple of factors to consider:

-->How long would you expect to live in that property? Even if you make partner, which isn't absolutely guaranteed. But is this a large company where you might be transferred to another location? Maybe even be expected to set up an office somewhere else? If your answer is 5 or more years, that'd probably be enough to consider buying. But if you answer: "There's a 50% chance I'll be moving in 2-3 years," then that's risky enough that you might not want to purchase just yet.

-->Would the home that you could buy today serve your needs for the next 5 or more years? I don't know Portland real estate at all, but I'm guessing that being on the partnership track and having $100,000 for a down payment (though you didn't mention student loans or other indebtedness) will let you buy a pretty nice property--not a 1-bedroom condo, for instance. Still, recognize that your life and lifestyle could change in the next 5 or so years. Getting married, if you're not. Having children (or more children). Needing a place suitable for entertaining (if partners are expected to do some of that). And so on. If you think the home would suit your needs for the next 5 years or so, then certainly consider buying. If you think you'd outgrow it in a year or two, then wait.

Those are some of the factors you might want to consider.

Hope that helps.
0 votes
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