Should I buy a home in Tri-Cities, WA if I’m only going to be there for a year?

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I had a client referred to me a few weeks ago.  Her lender is out of Seattle, which is where she is from, and she’s been here for about a year.  Her lender suggested she buy a house because of the tax advantages and to get her homeowning feet wet.

She was gung ho until she thought she might be moving in about a year, and then she didn’t know if she wanted to take the home-buying step.

Her lender friend was dumbfounded.  In a conversation with me he told me, “She should buy and start building equity.  Even if she doesn’t make anything in a year, she’ll at least recoup her costs, right?  You guys have a good market, right?

I told him we DID have a good market, with steady appreciation.  However, she might not recover her costs in just a year.  The maximum appreciation we’ve seen in a desirable area with a good style (rambler or two-story, not a mid-entry) home and excellent maintenance is about 5%. So, buy a home for $200,000, sell it for $210,000, the next year, it’s will cost you approximately $18,900 (taxes, title, escrow and commission costs) and you have $191,100 left to pay the remainder of your mortgage.  What if you bought the house with anything less than 5% down? You’ll have to pay to get out of the house.  That’s not fun for anyone.

Wait 365 days later, and you’re fine.  Assume another 5% appreciation, and you’re covered.

I can’t tell you about the ins and outs of how you might actually save after only a year because the interest on your mortgage is tax-deductible, I’ll have you talk to your favorite accountant about that.

But the fact is if you plan on staying here longer than 2 years, yes, buy a house.  If you’re here for under two years, then rent, unless buying and selling at a small loss makes sense tax-wise for you.

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About The Author
Cari McGee

My husband and I came to the Tri-Cities in 1994, and we thought it would be a temporary stop on our way to larger cities. He was a television sports anchor at the time, and we planned to go wherever the "next step up" took us. Twenty-plus years later, we're still here and we've loved every minute of it! We have two children now, and we've found the Tri-Cities area is a wonderful place to raise a family. It's a great place to do outdoorsy things -- I like to hike Badger Mountain or run along the river path. I also love reading ... by a cozy fire in the winter or a beautiful picture window in the summer (with the A/C on!). I've been a licensed Realtor since 2004. I earned my managing broker's license in 2016, which means I can run my own brokerage, or create a team of real estate agents and supervise them, which is exactly what I did when I formed the Cari McGee Real Estate Team in 2018! We have administrative and marketing personnel, as well as additional agents to serve you. I became a director of the Tri-Cities Association of Realtors Board of Directors in 2016, became Secretary/Treasurer of the organization, and was elected to Vice President in 2019. Want to talk about real estate? Click here to schedule a meeting with me!

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