Many real estate agents, mortgage professionals and economists have been saying it: “now is a great time to buy.” In fact, those cries have been echoed for the last year or so. Interestingly, there ARE many ready buyers out there, but inventory is so low and it is very difficult to be the lucky one whose offer is chosen, as many homes that are listed on the market obtain multiple offers, often in the first day or two.
So what makes now such a great time to buy real estate? There are 3 main reasons:
1. (Still) historically low interest rates. The interest rates are still at unprecedented lows. Part of this reason is because there is little inventory in most markets. As prices climb, inventory will rise (because sellers will see a good reason to finally sell again) and in turn interest rates will likely rise. It’s a Catch-22, but if you want the best rates, the end of a long downturn is a great time to take advantage.
2. Prices are rising in many markets. Many buyers have been waiting, some for a long time, until the market “bottomed out.” Well folks, we have reached that point and are now on the upswing. Prices in north county have risen, homes are receiving multiple offers, and the condo market is officially a seller’s market. Single family homes are soon to reach that level as well. If you are a buyer who has been “on the fence,” now is definitely the time to climb off and start looking, lest you find yourself facing higher prices and more competition as we head toward the Spring/Summer selling season.
3. Distressed inventory is down. Foreclosures have slackened off since the start of the summer, mostly in part to lenders embracing short sales and other programs, like loan modifications or sales to third party investors that help people stay in their homes. With less distressed inventory prices can continue to rise at a steady, “normal” pace. Note that even if you live in an area where there are still a lot of short sales, the jump in averages prices in those neighborhoods will cause lenders who hold paper on the distressed properties to seek prices that are more in line with the comparable sold properties, and since many lenders are trying to close short sales quicker and are being stricter with prices they will accept, it is likely such sales will not have a substantial effect on comparable properties.
4. Rents continue to rise and rentals are harder to find – great for investors, not so great for those seeking to rent. Rents have risen over the past year and are at a 10 year high, according to research reported in the Wall Street Journal. One study by Trulia even found that it is cheaper to own rather than rent in many markets. Not to mention the rental market is so hot, that it requires much luck to even find a rental and be chosen as a renter, since there is so much competition. I have had renters call on all my listings over the past year, asking if the sellers were willing to rent instead of sell – people are desperate. One of my investors just leased out a newly purchased property – the same floorplan I sold last year to a different investor – and he was able to obtain a monthly rent almost $100 higher per month than the first investor.
5. Low inventory. Low inventory in most markets means much greater competition amongst buyers. How, you say, is this a reason to buy now? Well, since competition is so high and prices are rising, if you are lucky to be the chosen buyer on a property you will likely end up paying less than when there is more inventory. There is only less than a three month supply of inventory on the market now in San Diego. If the many buyers out there looking cannot find a home to purchase now, and hold off until there is more inventory (usually after the holidays), there will also be more competition, as you will also get the buyers at that time of year who want to make a move after school gets out for the summer. Also, you will likely get a lower interest rate if you buy now rather than down the road, as many economists predict interest rate increases as inventory rises.
Do you need a few more reasons? How about this: housing statistics have been and continue to be on the rise. Building statistics are up in many areas, and many markets are becoming seller’s markets. So remember that “now is truly a great time to buy” may sound like an old cliche, but truly makes sense right now. If you are serious about buying now, make sure you understand the importance of writing a strong offer – click here for some great tips. Happy house hunting!