Q: I’m thinking of retiring in about six years. I have a condo that is rented. I want to buy a house, not in the same town where I have the condo. Should I buy a house now or wait until next year? In my opinion, the market is good now to buy, but my concern is that if I wait too long, the home prices and interest rates will go up. –Mercedes

A: To be perfectly frank, I’m not a big fan of timing the market, in general. Most people wait too long to get the deal they thought they would if they timed it just right, and it makes much more sense to try to align your real estate buy with your life than with the market, in any event.

In your particular case, however, if you’re just trying to decide between this year and next, my advice is to go ahead and begin the mortgage-qualifying and house-hunting process now, for several reasons.

First things first — you can’t buy a home with no money. And the mortgage loan qualifying process has grown very complex, difficult and drawn out over the past few years, even for people who are truly creditworthy. For that reason, even if you were planning to buy a home next year, I’d be telling you this is the time to touch base with a mortgage broker, have them pull your credit, and work out an action plan for addressing any potential financing bumps in the road.

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