Monday, August 5, 2013

Keeping an Eye on the Market

I wrote this article for the Equity Northwest Properties Blog this morning and decided to re-post it here for you.

There is a huge inventory of homes that were purchased at or near the height of the market from 2004-2008. The average homeowner moves every seven years so many of these homeowners that bought at the peak are getting towards that "time to move" point. The problem is that values for many of them are still not quite high enough to clear the loan obligation. Many of these would be sellers are sitting on the fence patiently waiting for the market to yield the price they need to exit clean.

For Realtors® and sellers this is a 'watch the market' time. We enjoyed a robust 8-12% gain in values over the last twelve months. If this upward pricing trend continues, many homeowners will finally exit the proverbial tunnel and be able to sell their home and clear all liens and fees.

Our local market and many other markets around the nation are seeing tight inventory, especially in the entry level price range. This is driving an increase in price. Low interest rates are also helping to keep demand relatively high. As these 'top of the market' homes become viable to sell again, we will see less of a squeeze on inventory. This can be a bit precarious, too much inventory may cause prices to flatten out if demand does not keep up. So long as interest rates remain at or below 5%, I believe the market will continue its growth, even if inventory levels fatten up. A combination of higher rates in the more normal range of 6-7% and bulkier inventory would likely cause the prices to stop rising or at least severely slow down.

What does all this really mean? For buyers that really want to own, rather than rent, now is truly the time to buy. Rates are low and there is no guarantee they will remain low. Prices are rising but still relatively low. For sellers, things are a little dicey at the moment. Selling now could be the genius move of the decade or it could be one of those "oops" I should have waited situations. No one really knows what this fragile market will do. If you are a owner occupant seller and you actually want to move then selling as soon as possible makes sense. If you are selling based on an investment then you are forced to gamble a bit. Wait or sell? For an investor I would wait a little longer but of course that may or may not pan out. In the end, I believe real estate should be a long term investment and waiting will rarely cost you money, it may just cost you some time.

Sellers and would be sellers should remain 'market engaged'. In other words, pay attention. Things are moving in generally positive directions and the opportunity to sell will present itself soon. Potential sellers should stay in contact with their favorite agent or broker and 'keep and eye on the market'.

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