Buying strategies for today's market
Start building equity as quickly as you can – Some prospective buyers have made the mistake of holding off on their purchase while trying to save for a larger down payment. This frequently doesn't work out, since you're also paying rent and just saving a small amount. In the meantime, house prices are still rising, which can leave you farther and farther behind. As soon as you have an acceptable amount for a modest down payment, it will usually pay to get into a rising market right away.
Get in at a level you can afford – If today's prices for a single family detached home are beyond your reach, why not start with something more modest? Your first step on the “property ladder” might be a condo apartment or freehold townhouse as you work your way up.
Choose a home that only meets your current needs -- Buyers often try to move into their ideal home with their very first purchase. In a market where prices are high, it really doesn't make sense to start with a home that can already accommodate future needs. You don't need to be paying for extra rooms now if you don't expect to be starting a family for another two or three years. Choosing a home that just meets your current needs will keep the price down and allow you to build some equity quickly. Then, when that future need arises, you're already in the market and ready to either upgrade or renovate with some equity behind you.
Consider an income-generating property – Buying a home that has an area that could be rented out is a time-honoured strategy. Why not let your tenant help pay off your mortgage, at least in the early years when you're just getting started.
Start off with joint ownership -- If you there's another close and trusted person in your life who's also looking to enter the housing market, it may be in both your interests to start out by sharing one property, such as a duplex. This is a more complicated option, and it will definitely require consulting a lawyer to draw up a prior agreement that spells out all the buy-out conditions should one of the parties wants to sell off their share. However, if your relationship is a solid one, such as siblings or parent/child relationships, then this can be a great alternative for both parties.