Background: I just got a new job in downtown D.C. and I'm interested in buying my first home since interest rates are low and I have excellent credit (750-ish). I will be making 130K a year. I have student loan debt but no credit card debt and no car loan. I'm a veteran so I can use the VA Home loan. (edited for brevity)
Question #1: My main concern is I just don't know how long I'll stay here since I don't know if I'll like it here (i.e. I have no plan I'm just seeing how it goes), and I know it's normally a bad idea to buy if you aren't settling down. I work for a contractor so I could move eventually for a number of reasons.
What I'm trying to figure out is if it would be safe to buy despite my uncertainties if I purchase a city condo that I can rent remotely if something comes up and I decide to move out. I always hear how bad it is to buy if you aren't staying long, but for me I just don't know if I'll stay long or not and don't want to lose out on a good opportunity with interest rates being so low. On top of that from what I've read, rent is supposedly like 32% (Edit: old data, in 2018 it was 28% if I understand correctly) more expensive than buying in DC, so it makes me question things even further.
Question #2: Since I'm not putting down a down payment, my mortgage payment will probably be higher than my rental value. I've read on a comment in another thread that that doesn't necessarily mean I'm losing money. It was explained like this: "Even if rent - expenses < mortgage you are still turning a profit as long as rent - expenses > interest." Could someone explain this to me a little simpler?
Question #3: I've read that housing prices are rising because inventory is struggling to keep up with the supply of new people moving in from new government jobs and the new Amazon Warehouse/HQ moving in, mainly because of DC's weird restrictions on how tall buildings can be. How should I view this as an investor? It sounds good that prices will go up, but if new regulation gets passed to lift those restrictions, could that instead be really bad?