Plan to stay
Buying a home might seem like a no-brainer if your mortgage payment would be less than the rent you're paying.
But that comparison doesn't account for other costs of homeownership, including down payment, mortgage-related fees and home maintenance and repair expenses, says Ed Conarchy, a mortgage loan originator for Cherry Creek Mortgage Co. in Gurnee, Ill.
With those factors considered, short-term homeownership rarely makes sense.
"When you buy a home, you should know you're going to stay for a minimum of five to seven years, and longer is better," Conarchy says. "If you try to do everything you need to do to make that house yours and then you turn around and sell it after three years, you're not going to break even and you're at risk of the market."
If your employment situation feels secure and you're prepared to stay in one place for a while, you might be ready to buy.