4 Questions You Need to Answer Today

  1. Why are the prices fo homes dropping substantially in today's market?

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    Prices are dropping because of the anomaly that occurred during the market boom. Professor Karl Case of Wellesley College and contributing author of the Case-Schiller Home Price Indices, a quarterly nominal housing price report, looked closely at the appreciation of median home value over five-year increments dating back to 1980. His research shows that home values appreciated 26.5% on average for the 20-year period from 1980 through 2000. In the six years that followed, average appreciation was 89%. Prices are now adjusting to the inconsistent and unsustainable growth that occurred during the first six years of this decade. In other words, the market is not on the decline. Rather, it is moving toward stability, which will mean healthier markets in the future.

  2. How do I determine the direction of prices in my market?

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    Although there are no steadfast rules to determine future pricing, month’s supply of inventory (total inventory divided by the number of houses sold per month) is a great guideline. A normalized or balanced market has five to six months of inventory. If 100 houses sell a month, there should be 500 to 600 houses in active inventory. Based on this principle, if you have one to two months of inventory, double-digit appreciation is likely to occur. Lack of supply will cause potential buyers to clamor over the few homes that are for sale, which in turn drives prices higher. On the other end of the spectrum-where many markets are right now- there is aseven-to eight-month inventory. With this abundance of supply, there simply aren’t enough buyers to support the number of homes for sale.

    Current economic conditions will also have an effect on the direction of pricing, as pricing is directly connected to average income. Traditionally, the national average sales price of a home is two-and-a-half times the average household income. Through the boom years of 2004, 2005, and even into 2006, that ratio was distorted, reaching up to four time the average income. We’re now getting much closer to the 2.5 ratio. However, with unemployment rising, prices may have to drop further to stay in line with the average American family income.

  3. Why should I buy now?

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    Any investment consideration, whether it be real estate, gold, or fine art, follows a predictable cycle with nine stages. Let’s start with optimism, the period in which many people are excited about buying a home. When the market is strong, people’s purchases quickly increase in value, which leads to euphoria, which can lead to rash decision making. From euphoria starts a downward cycle. As prices start to fall, buyers go into denial, with statements such as “I’ll be in the house a few years, so this won’t be a challenge.” After denial comes fear, as prices continue to fall, followed by panic, despondency, and depression. After depression comes hope and then optimism again.

  4. Is homeownership really a good way to build wealth?

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    According to NAR, home values appreciate 4.5% annually on average. That’s a great return; however, very few buyers pay in cash. Most try to put as little cash down as possible. The amount of cash buyers put into their home determines their return on equity, which is the total return on the cash they initially invested. So the return on equity can be astronomical. It’s easy to see that real estate isn’t just a good investment; it’s a great investment.