Today’s affordable housing worth a look

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Dear Dr. Don,
My fiance and I both own homes. Once sold, we will have approximately $70,000 to either put on a new home or to invest. We both have excellent credit, but we have limited savings. What do you suggest we do?
— Meredith Matrimony

Dear Meredith,
Best wishes on your upcoming nuptials, and home sales. There are a lot of variables in play here. Because you’re both selling your houses, it’s clear that neither of you wants to make a home together in the other’s current residence. Talking to tax professionals about the ramifications of selling the homes before or after you’re married would be a smart move.

Your plans for the future will influence the decision that’s right for you. How long you plan to be in the area factors into the decision of whether to buy or rent a home. The Bankrate mortgage calculator “Buy or rent your next home” can identify some of the issues to consider in buying versus renting.

Like many financial planners, I think it’s a good idea to have three to six months’ worth of living expenses invested in an emergency fund. However, that may conflict with the goal of buying a new house and putting 20 percent down so you don’t have to pay private mortgage insurance.

Housing prices vary by market. But based on national averages, housing is much more affordable now and mortgage rates are near record lows. If that’s true for your market, and you plan on living in that area for awhile, it makes sense to look at buying a personal residence as you start a life together.

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Read more Dr. Don columns for additional personal finance advice. To ask a question of Dr. Don, go to the “Ask the Experts” page, and select one of these topics: “Financing a home,” “Saving & Investing” or “Money.”