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2009-02-19 21:57:23

Why You Can't Outsmart The Housing Market

A deluge of discouraging news from rising mortgage interest rates to falling stock prices have economy watchers moaning that the worst recession since the 1980s is here and housing is going to get worse.
If you're a buyer waiting for the perfect alignment of the house buying stars – low interest rates, high inventory and low prices, guess what? It’s here. 
According to my favorite mortgage market guru, David Reedmortgage interest rates are creeping up because of “capacity.” That’s what lenders do to slow the pipeline when they have too many applications.
Why is this happening? Because interest rates under 5 ¼ are a rare gift. Not only are purchase loans being processed by fewer banks and staff, refinancings are clogging the works, too.
Translation? By waiting just one week to finance, you added $50 a month to your monthly mortgage payment thanks to higher interest rates.
Hindsight is 20-20, so you can see well enough to kick your own butt.
But don't despair. Just consider it a little lesson in market timing – you can’t outsmart the market. 
All you can do is watch the indicators and make your move when you think the most variables are in your favor.
And right now they are.
Existing home sales were 13 percent lower in 2008 than in 2007, but as home prices and interest rates drifted downward, that created additional affordability. So more people applied for loans to buy homes, which accounted for the rise in December home sales of 6.5 percent over November 2008. The consequence of more housing sales was lower inventory. Instead of 11.2 months on hand in November, December inventories were down to 9.3 months on hand. 
That’s still a buyer’s market, but how long do you think the best selection of homes will last if interest rates and prices continue to fall?  Inventories may rise again in the spring as sellers test the market, but with interest rates so low and prices already down to 2003 levels, it’s unlikely sellers will offer further bargains.
Have you considered a new home? Now might be a very good time to buy new. The credit crunch is adding to builders’ desperation. They're finally realizing that they can't keep adding to stagnant inventories.
New construction for months has been at record lows. New home inventories are creeping upward – now well over 11 months supply on hand. It’s a terrific time to negotiate, before spring buyers add to your competition.
I know, I know. You’re waiting for government incentives. But so is every other buyer.
Keep in mind, there are only a few things that matter when you're buying a home: getting the home you want, at the price you want, at an affordable monthly payment. If you get all three, you've made a good deal.
The housing crunch won't last forever, and when it turns, think about where you want to be -- with your first choice or the leftovers.  
Blanche Evans is CEO of Evans Emedia, Inc. and publisher of The Evans Ezine. As an award-winning journalist, Blanche has been named one of the "25 Most Influential People In Real Estate" by REALTOR Magazine, and twice recognized as one of the industry's most "Notables."   

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