The “5-Year Rule” as it applies to Northern New Jersey homes listed for sale is a pretty good one, as far as real estate rules-of-thumb go. It’s part of the family of truisms that have been around long enough that you’d figure they have to be reliable—like the rule that you should plan on maintenance costing 1% of a listed home’s selling price per year; or the one the government often quotes that housing costs should be no more than 30% of income.
The 5-Year Rule has it that if you don’t know you will remain in a new home for at least 5 years, you’d be better off not buying. The reasons are the oft-cited dollars and cents issues. In addition to the closing costs, commissions, and costs of moving your household, emotional issues are often cited: as in the familiar “moving is one of the most stressful events in life.”
But like most other similar guidelines, the 5-Year Rule is useful as a starting point only. If you have no overriding issues that have set you to checking out the homes listed in Ringwood, Wanaque, Pompton Lakes and Wayne, it’s a reasonable starting point. But if other factors are nudging you into action, it’s only one way to look at the practicality of buying a home—not the final verdict. Some outside factors that might make it worth at least considering overruling the 5-Year Rule:
- One of the homes listed is a perfect fit AND a genuine steal. When you come across a property that is exactly what you have been looking for and the asking price is clearly below what comparable Passaic County homes are currently commanding at market, it might make sense to reconsider the 5-Year Rule. The reason is simple: if you have to move, you have reason to believe that you will be able to sell at a price that offsets the costs of the transactions.
- The emotional cost of not owning your home is substantial. This is easily overlooked, but for some people (often, for those whose entire childhood was centered in one home) the feeling of being untethered—or of delaying the familial commitment that accompanies the institution of homeownership—can be emotionally disruptive. It’s impossible to put a price on this, but it can make a real difference in well-being.
- Knowing what you don’t know. The 5-Year Rule is based upon a certainty: that you will be moving away from Ringwood, Wanaque, Pompton Lakes and Wayne in at most 5 years. But what if there is less certainty? What if you simply don’t know? This is a fairly common 21st century conundrum, and it can lead to paralysis in any number of decision-making situations. Especially right now, when the homes listed in the Northern New Jersey are qualifying for today’s incredibly low mortgage interest rates, it may be worthwhile to pencil in the cash flow tradeoff versus the renting alternative. If you still don’t know 5 years from now, that same tradeoff might look a lot less worth doing!
When the 5-Year Rule isn’t at issue (or if it might give way to one of the overriding factors), you want to be sure you are being shown the listed Passaic County homes that offer the best value in your price range. That’s where I will be certain to be your strongest asset. Call me!