Is now the time for big ticket purchases?

September 19, 2008 6:18:33 PM PDT
With so many ups and downs on Wall Street, you might be wondering if now is the time to wait on making big purchases, things like cars and homes. Some deals out there might look too good to pass up, and if you have money in the bank, why not get that shiny new car you've been longing for? Well, chief economist Pearl Kamer has some reasons why not.

"You have to think about how secure your job is, and where would you be if you lost your job," she said. "How would you be able to live?"

We found Bob Mait at a Mercedes dealer. He wasn't buying anything, but fixing what he already has.

"I got my car serviced, it was a recall," he said. "For free, which I like. It's my favorite word, free."

These days, it is for most people. But Bob remembers a more frivolous time, spending like there was no tomorrow.

"It was America!" he said. "You spend money crazy and all of a sudden, you realize what's going on in the world."

So what's happening with other big ticket items, like houses?

Some say now is the time to buy, since foreclosures and recent housing market slumps have brought prices down.

We found a home selling for about $390,000 in the heart of Lindenhurst, and Century 21 realtor Frank Dell Accio says it's a deal for the buyer. He says that in a sellers' market, the same home would go for at least $50,000 more.

"The home that was once out of your reach is now in your reach," he said. "So now is a good time to buy."

But Kamer says not so fast. She suggests you delay on big spending.

"It's not simply a time to spend spend spend," she said.

Kamer says people whose wants are overriding their needs will try again. But she points out that buying big ticket items often require big loans, and the chances of getting a loan are slim right now, unless your credit score is superior, meaning 800 or higher.

"This is going to go on for several years, so I think caution is the watch word of the day," she said.

On another note, Kamer says if you have to use your credit card regularly, she suggests keeping it at the halfway point for its limit. Because once it is maxed out, it could be years before another credit card company will accept you.


STORY BY: Long Island reporter Emily Smith


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