What’s the next step?

Let’s say you’re renting, but you’d like more space and a home you can make your own.  You’d like to buy, but you’re not sure if you’ll buy here or somewhere you can get more house for less money.  What’s the next step?

And is there another motivation, even more important than the need for space and control, that you’ll have to have to be a successful Silicon Valley homebuyer?

Whether you buy here depends to a large extent on how much house you can afford here.  Talk to a loan agent about how much loan you qualify for.

Once you know your buying power, you’ll have to decide whether it gets you the combination of features–space, convenience to work, attractive neighborhood, maybe good schools and whatever else is on your wish list–that makes it worth buying.  Can you afford the kind of home most people want, a single-family home in move-in condition, or does it need to be a fixer?  Or would you be fine with a condo or townhome?

The best way to answer these questions is to look at open houses, preferably with someone who can tell you the pros and cons of each property and what it’s likely to sell for based on a Comparative Market Analysis.

If properties close to work in your price range don’t offer what you’re looking for, then you’ll have to decide whether owning your own home is worth a longer commute.  Can you time your commute to avoid the worst of traffic?  Can you work from home, some or most days?  There’s no doubt that the further from job centers you go, the cheaper homes get–but you may not have to go all that far.  There are significant price differences between close-in cities and cities just ten or fifteen minutes further from jobs.

Buying here is always a matter of trade-offs.

Do you put a premium on a short commute?  If so, you may wish to continue to rent, although if rents keep going up eventually you may find yourself priced out of the more convenient locations.

I’ve found that people need a third reason, besides more space and more control over that space, to buy here:  commitment–the desire to put down roots in the Valley.  In fact, this may be the most important motivation, because without commitment, Silicon Valley prices don’t make sense.

For years, the Valley’s powerful draw has been the combination of career opportunities and lifestyle it offers.  But ask yourself, Is there anything in particular that ties you to this area?  Or can your job, relative salary and lifestyle be replicated in, say, Knoxville or Austin?  If you’re truly portable, you may well find it difficult to make the substantial commitment this area has long demanded. 

copyright © John Fyten 2017

Leave a Reply