Author Topic: Housing: buy now, or wait?  (Read 3660 times)

arebelspy

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Housing: buy now, or wait?
« on: September 07, 2012, 08:41:56 AM »
I got a PM from another MMM reader with a question about waiting until prices drop before buying.

He said:
Quote
I'm in Nevada too (Sparks). I have a few properties and I'm wanting to buy at least one more.  This AB284 thing has screwed up the Reno RE market. It is shooting up now but I expect it to drop once the AB284 dam breaks.  What do you think? If you had $80k cash would you be looking now or waiting 6 months or a year for prices to drop?  If I'm wrong I could end up paying a lot more.

I didn't put this on the forum because it's only a NV issue.

(Small background: AB284 is a law passed in Nevada that went into effect last October which has made it very difficult for banks to foreclose.  Consequently, inventory has dropped, leading to rising prices.)

After replying to him, the answer seemed to apply to more than Nevada residents (I'm sure there are people all over wondering if they should buy now or wait), so I decided to go ahead and post it here as well.

The following is what I responded back.

I'm not sure that AB284 will be resolved in 6 months. The next legislative session won't even begin until next February, and it certainly won't be resolved as soon as they do.  It could take another year, or more.

That being said, I do think we will see an increase in inventory nation-wide (including Nevada) after the election.  I think banks are holding back some inventory to create some false house appreciation for political reasons.

I'm still buying right now, though I do expect prices to go down.  I'm not a big fan of market timing in general (even slow moving markets like real estate) and I'm not sure what will happen in the future.  All of the above are my predictions, so take them with a big grain of salt.

Furthermore, I like to leverage and get mortgages, and interest rates will rise at some point.  Even if home prices drop, I may be paying more monthly due to rising interest rates, so trying to time the bottom of the interest rates as well as the bottom of home prices is doubly tricky.

I also think of it as dollar cost averaging - the house I buy today may cost slightly more than the one I buy a year from now (and will have declined in price some), but since I don't know when the bottom is, if I keep buying now, and then, I'll dollar cost average into some very good prices.

Also I ran some calculations once and determined that buying now (or rather, at that point) was better than waiting, even if prices fell, due to benefits (cash flow, among other things) gained in the meantime.  For example, say I buy a 70k home today.  Cashflows $250/mo.  Say prices decline 5% over the next year.  In a year, I'll have gained $3000 cash, and lost 3500 in equity.  Seems like I lost $500.  But with mortgage interest writeoff and depreciation I'll have likely gained more like 2,000.  Having your money sitting in cash (to keep it liquid while waiting for a bottom) versus investing it now and getting an immediate double digit return.  I'll generally take the latter, even if the asset value is going to decline a little more.

If you are just purchasing an investment home as a one-off thing (i.e. not to build a portfolio of multiple rental properties), and you strongly feel the market is going down, wait a bit.  Even after the election for winter time, when prices sag a bit seasonally.  That's fine.  Waiting for AB284 to be completely resolved or repealed is probably not worth it, IMO.

And last: a deal's a deal, regardless of the market.  I wouldn't pass on a great deal, personally, I'd make it happen.

tl;dr summary: Due to a number of factors (inability to time market, potential of rising interest rates, dollar cost averaging, gains made even on an asset declining in value, and I don't like passing on a good deal), I'm still buying now.  Waiting a bit isn't a terrible play if you're only purchasing one.

Hopefully that helps someone or gives someone something to consider.  Thoughts?
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TLV

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Re: Housing: buy now, or wait?
« Reply #1 on: September 07, 2012, 10:06:42 AM »
For example, say I buy a 70k home today.

*sigh*

70k would be a down payment + closing costs for a small 70-year-old house in need of remodeling in our area.

I've run the numbers for buying/renting ourselves dozens of times, hoping that the outcome will change. It *might* be worth it (from a pure financial perspective) to buy in this area once we have enough kids to need a 3-bedroom, but by then I expect to be FI (or nearly so) and we'll move to a lower-cost area.

tooqk4u22

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Re: Housing: buy now, or wait?
« Reply #2 on: September 07, 2012, 10:09:53 AM »
Good post - I agree that if you are long term investor and the numbers work today then go for it.  Your point about potentially rising interest rates is important - people tend to forget that we buy payments and not houses and a big jump in rates can translate to a higher payment or lower loan amount. This is also why housing prices won't be going up any time soon.  First the economy and jobs have to come back, then incomes need to rise, all that translates into higher rates back to more normal levels, and provided that continues then housing prices will rise from there.  Example - a $100k loan at 3.5% is a $449/mo payment but if rates go to 5.0% then it will be $536/mo - doesn't sound like much but that is a 20% increase. 

These politicians that pass such laws are hurting the market more than helping the market as supply/demand will work itself out eventually so it just delaying the inevetible, it is amazing they don't get it.  Furthermore, if it is or becomes way to difficult for lenders to foreclose on homes when people don't pay then lenders will either increase rates to compensate for the risk, make lending standards really difficult (low LTV, real stable people) or just not make any loans in those markets. 


arebelspy

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Re: Housing: buy now, or wait?
« Reply #3 on: September 07, 2012, 11:13:53 AM »
70k would be a down payment + closing costs for a small 70-year-old house in need of remodeling in our area.

I hear ya.  I grew up in that area (went to Inglemoor High School in Bothell).

It's an area that would be more difficult to be investing in real estate, for sure.  I'd likely be investing in Real Estate elsewhere were I living there.

(Heck, I'm sure I would, as I currently am investing in other areas besides my own - Mississippi and California, and potentially Texas and Arizona, and that's even with me viewing my local area as a great place to invest.)
« Last Edit: September 07, 2012, 11:20:04 AM by arebelspy »
We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, spent some time traveling the world full time and are now settled with three kids.
If you want to know more about us, or how we did that, or see lots of pictures, this Business Insider profile tells our story pretty well.
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arebelspy

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Re: Housing: buy now, or wait?
« Reply #4 on: September 07, 2012, 11:19:36 AM »
Good post - I agree that if you are long term investor and the numbers work today then go for it.  Your point about potentially rising interest rates is important - people tend to forget that we buy payments and not houses and a big jump in rates can translate to a higher payment or lower loan amount. This is also why housing prices won't be going up any time soon.  First the economy and jobs have to come back, then incomes need to rise, all that translates into higher rates back to more normal levels, and provided that continues then housing prices will rise from there.  Example - a $100k loan at 3.5% is a $449/mo payment but if rates go to 5.0% then it will be $536/mo - doesn't sound like much but that is a 20% increase. 

Absolutely.  And here's the thing: that 536/mo payment would have been equivalent to a house at 120k at 3.5%.  So if rates rose from 3.5% to 5%, one that could afford a 120k house at 3.5% can now only afford a 100k house at 5%.  Thus prices will stay low/depressed to accomodate those (eventual) interest rate rises.  Because people can't afford a higher purchase price (leading to a larger payment) AND a higher interest rate (leading to a larger payment).  It's one big reason why the Fed is pursuing the ZIRP.  But it will be painful when it goes away, and keep prices depressed.  Either way though, once rates go up, your payment will likely be going up as well (as house prices will stay low and not rise due to the ZIRP ending, but not necessarily fall).

These politicians that pass such laws are hurting the market more than helping the market as supply/demand will work itself out eventually so it just delaying the inevetible, it is amazing they don't get it.  Furthermore, if it is or becomes way to difficult for lenders to foreclose on homes when people don't pay then lenders will either increase rates to compensate for the risk, make lending standards really difficult (low LTV, real stable people) or just not make any loans in those markets.

Yup, yup.  Completely agree.

Kicking the can down the road.

Well, we deal with what we have in front of us.  Thus the OP with my reasons of why I'm still buying.
We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, spent some time traveling the world full time and are now settled with three kids.
If you want to know more about us, or how we did that, or see lots of pictures, this Business Insider profile tells our story pretty well.
We (rarely) blog at AdventuringAlong.com. Check out our Now page to see what we're up to currently.

salmp01

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Re: Housing: buy now, or wait?
« Reply #5 on: September 07, 2012, 12:34:30 PM »
I live in the Minneapolis, MN area and have purchased around 20 properties in the last 3-4 years.  This year I have had a harder time finding the deals that I found a couple years ago but the deals are still out there.  I try and purchase properties significantly less (20-30%) than the current market value and ensure they cash flow a few hundred dollars a month.   At some point in the future when prices and/or interest rates rise (faster than rents) it will not make sense to purchase rentals but I think that may be a few years away.   So for now keep buying!