How long should you expect to stay in your new home?
The Five Year Rule for Buying a House
When I first considered buying a house, my entire family got involved. I have the luck of being related to real estate agents, investors and other experts that are more than happy to give advice about buying a property — even before you ask.
The first thing they asked me was exactly how long I expected to stay in the house. Most people don’t know these sorts of things for sure, but we wanted to make sure that I’d own the house for at least five years.
The Upgrade Cycle
It definitely varies by geographic area — if not by specific neighborhood — but a lot of folks in my area will buy a townhouse or condo as their starter home. After about three years, they’ll start looking for a bigger place to upgrade to, either a bigger townhouse or a single family home. Depending on the family, that upgrade cycle can go through a couple of times as people work their way up to a house that they are happy with and is big enough for their family.
The thought seems to be that if you’re making a little more money every year, by three years out you’ll be in a position to afford a bigger house. And everyone
knows assumes that buying is more cost-effective than renting — as long as you’re paying down the principal on your mortgage, you’re going to come out ahead.
But with an upgrade cycle of about three years, there’s a good chance that you will lose money.