Should we sell now to buy or wait for the market to improve?

Posted by Alex Narodny on Friday, October 15th, 2010 at 3:52pm

We're heading into the last few months of the year and the real estate market is holding steady. The numbers have dipped slightly but some of that has to do with the time of year. There are approximately 1270 homes  on the market of which 316 are in escrow. That 27% in  escrow is the same as it was in our last report in June. Inventory is down and so is the number of sales, and the general public keeps getting inundated with the media reports on the volatile stock market, the stagnant employment  picture and the gruesome state of the California economy. So how does all this affect you as a homeowner? Here are the two most frequent questions we get asked:

1. Should we sell now to buy or wait for the market to improve? Answer: Time is not your friend in this case, and if the reasons for moving hinges on financial considerations and seeking an improved quality of life, we say don't wait. All signs indicate that home values will not even begin to rebound before 2014. They should stabilize, but don't expect any serious appreciation for a while. If you expect to stay in your next home for at least 5-10 years then yes, there will be appreciation by then. Wouldn't you prefer to have that appreciation happen on the home you buy and improve, than the one you're in now? If you wait to sell, you may get more for your current home, but you will also pay more for the one you buy. There is one more factor - interest rates. There is 4% money available now, and these rates are only going to go up in years to come. Keep in mind, just a 2% jump in interest rates on a $500k mortgage means approximately $900 more a month in payments. What will saving that amount do to your cash flow over 5-10 years? 

2. Will the market be better in the spring? Answer: Be very careful when banking on a spring flourish. Typically, we see a 20-30% jump in inventory in the spring, but next spring we have an added factor to consider. Currently, there are approximately 375 notices of default in Marin which means that unless cured, these homes will become foreclosures.  In addition, there are 281 short sales and 103 bank owned REO's already on the market. Yes, some lenders have stopped the foreclosure process, but  that will only mean a pent-up supply of bank-owned homes. So what will happen to the current  value of your home when inventory jumps by 40% and buyers have that many more choices? Timing, pricing and marketing are the most important factors in getting the best price for your home. In making major decisions like this, we also look at the bottom line which is more than just financial. The question is, will a move today improve your quality of life?

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