Friday, July 3, 2009

Current Market Trends

Story from the Press Democrat

The real estate industry is full of clichés and metaphors, for example: “location, location, location,” “a wave of foreclosures is about to hit the market,” “are we at the bottom of the market?” and “interest rates are the lowest they’ve been since the Macedonian Period!”

These clichés and metaphors are spewed out more frequently than the phrase “bailout” flashes across the ticker on Fox News, MSNBC and other media conglomerates who attempt to shape our economic thought process and buying habits. The million-dollar question: “Is this the right time to buy real estate?”

Although we can’t look into the future and give an accurate answer to that question, we can look at history and trends.

According to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, “It’s a good time to snag a bargain if you’re confident in your job prospects and you don’t plan to sell for at least five years.” Over the past decade, real estate lost its way. Real estate was typically purchased to have a place to call “home” and raise a family or create lifelong memories. However, when real estate rose faster than a kindergartner’s hand when asked by their teacher “who wants a cookie?” real estate became a commodity and the American dream of owning a home changed overnight to an appreciation feeding frenzy.

Consumers thought it was their right to gain 20 percent appreciation year after year until they were ready to sell and retire from the proceeds or refinance with a less risky loan and take cash out for exotic vacations, vehicle and boat purchases or trips to the local home improvement store where homes were transformed from an outdated and sometimes unlivable dwelling to the neighborhood Taj Mahal.

With all of that aside, it does seem like now is a good time to buy real estate. In fact, according to, the number one item on their list of things to buy before the economy improves is housing. “This may be the best time in a generation to buy a home.”

The Pew research center reported that 75 percent of Americans said it was a “good” or “very good” time to buy ( The Wall Street Journal reported that median home prices in the San Francisco Bay Area are up 9.2 percent year-to-date and MSN Shiller posted the following statistics regarding return on investment from Jan. 1, 2001 through Dec. 31, 2008: The Dow Jones down 19.8 percent, the S&P down 35.2 percent, the Nasdaq down 59.9 percent and real estate up 69.8 percent.

I am often told by consumers that they’re waiting for the market to go down even more before they decide to buy. However, keep in mind that if homes decrease another 10 percent, you’ll save $50,000 on a $500,000 purchase, but if interest rates increase by more than 1 percent it will offset the $50,000 you saved on your purchase price and your monthly cost will increase.

USA Today is currently estimating that California’s excess supply of homes will be substantially depleted and new construction will be needed to meet demand, thus leading to a housing recovery. Over the past six years, 30-year mortgage interest rates have hit historical lows on five different occasions, followed by quick and dramatic increase in rates as reported by the Federal Reserve.

Again, one cannot predict the future, but with data and statistics one can be informed and make an educated decision. Our market place (especially homes priced under $400,000) is very competitive. Buyers in this price range are often bidding against multiple offers, homes are selling for above asking price and inventory is very low — all creating a demand for a supply that has decreased dramatically. It is a good time to buy, so contact a real estate professional, get pre-qualified with a loan officer and let the shopping begin!

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