i'm not sure where people get the notion that there is security in owning a home. The vast majority of people will owe a lot for a long time, so that's a false sense of security. You don't own the home until it is paid off. Second, even if you pay off the home, how secure are you, because you can be, and many people are, house rich, but poor since home equity is isn't as easy to tap (especially nowadays), and when you do, then you owe again.
i believe that in this new economic era, you need to get your whole financial picture in order and lined up before buying a house. a house isn't the end all. i'm 39 and we are just now buying our first home; however, i don't believe we were in the financial situation i wanted to be in before buying a home before now. i still cannot believe people are taking out ARMS, interest only, and no to little down mortgages. Ok, there are situations where some of these products are beneficial; however, zero to no down? really? i was really pissed at my credit union, because they do no give fixed rate mortgages for jumbo loans anymore. they only do ARMS. I was like what the heck, i thought we just went through this whole crisis because of all these ARMS etc, and now in order to get a jumob, i'd be forced into one if i went with them? give me a break!!! i can understand banks want to earn a buck, and they are earning millions and billions wiht the free money tax payers are giving them, but to make more by forcing folks into ARMS is ridiculous.
The flip side are banks like USAA, who are really retrenching. They want 30-35% down. Where did the 20% rule go? They gave an excuse that this is the new Fannie Mae guidelines. I go, you got to be kidding 30-35% is the new guideline, because I don't know other lenders requiring 30-35%.
that's my rant.
anyways, back to OT. If you do not have an emergency fund (regardless of how "decent" safe job you have), you need to have one. Stuff happens. If you aren't saving for retirement, you ought to be. sock money away money for those and to save for a house, and go from there. it is in no way "secure" to feel that buying into a large debt like a mortgage when you do not have cash reserves. aside from stuff happening in life in general, stuff happens with houses along with routine maintenance items.
if you have cash reserves and you can put money down on a house, then i would buy a house within the next year, because the only way to go for rates is up. the big test will be in march when the govt's MBS buyout expires.