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Don't rush into buying a home

Ominous headlines about layoffs. Soaring prices at the pump. For-sale signs and plummeting stock markets. Everywhere you turn lately, you see a test of your financial faith. Never fear. Here are common-sense tips to survive the current money crunch:
 Don’t rush into buying a home. We know your in-laws say you’re throwing your money away by paying rent. But leasing is preferable to saddling yourself with a high-interest mortgage that sinks you in the long run. That’s precisely what’s happened to thousands of people who took on adjustable-rate home loans and found they couldn’t afford the payments once rates, well ... adjusted. Zale’s rule of thumb: Wait until you’ve saved a 20 percent down payment that will allow you to start with some equity and secure a solid interest rate. Yep, 20 percent will take a while to stash away. “Even if you have to wait another year to buy, patience pays off,” he said. The only – repeat only – time to consider an adjustable-rate deal is if you’re certain – repeat certain – you’ll be leaving a house in a few years and your employer will buy or sell it.

– Ted Zale, a veteran financial counselor, has wisdom to see you through economically troubled times.

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