Smart About Money: “Will I ever be able to buy a house?”

Nick Maffeo

A lot of young people who grew up in the Metro Boston area are wondering if they’ll ever be able to buy a home around here.

It may take time. It may take work. It may take luck. But the good news is that if there is something you really want to make happen, usually there is a way.

The bad news is that there has been an explosion of places to hear about how “awful” things are and supposedly always will be. Anyone wanting to buy a house has to find good sources of useful, action-oriented information while tuning out the relentless predictions of impending doom.

If you talk to people who bought homes around here 10, 20, 30, 40 and even 50 years ago, many had the very same fears and questions young people have today. Will house prices be going down soon – should I wait to buy? Will I be able to afford the mortgage? Am I making a big mistake on a huge purchase? It’s natural to be asking yourself those questions, and prudent.

The first thing is to accept that you don’t have a crystal ball. No one knows the future. Can housing prices keep going up? They certainly can and history shows that in the Metro Boston area, housing prices have gone up consistently over decades.

That’s part of what makes owning a home in the Metro Boston area a potentially good investment. Huge demand. Limited supply. Not a lot of developable land left. An area that’s very appealing.

One thing that has definitely changed a lot over the years is that there aren’t as many starter homes or houses in rough shape where part of a young person’s equity can be “sweat equity.” Starter homes for young people today are more like people’s aspirational homes were not very long ago. So that’s certainly also a reason for the high prices of houses around here.

If you have decided that homeownership is the path you want to pursue, a very good next step is to get to know a local lender – a person with your best interests at heart who you can talk to about your situation and your options. These people do exist! You’re looking for someone you can work with over time, someone who will be honest with you and be a key member of your team.

A local lender will probably also be able to recommend other local professionals who you might want to talk to – real estate agents, a real estate lawyer. People with a track record of success helping buyers in the area where you want to buy.

If you’re not ready to buy a house around here now – if that’s not your dream or you’re not sure you want to stay in this area – that’s fine too. Knowing you don’t want to buy a house is as important as knowing you do want to buy one.

Henry David Thoreau once said that, “In the long run, we find what we expect. Expect great things.”

If you want to buy a home in the Metro Boston area, stay positive in the process, focus on making reasonable decisions at each step and trust that it will work out. If someone else has done it, you can too.

Nick Maffeo is the President & CEO of Canton Co-operative Bank – right next to the Post Office – in Canton. Have a question? Email to

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