Ears were attuned to some of the nation’s commentators might have heard that last year’s gradual slowdown in residential sales might signal a dawning “buyer’s market.” That may be true or not, but as for its impact on your own home-buying plans, there are a couple of realities to bear in mind.
First is that any shift from seller’s to buyer’s market is at best barely discernable. Its basis would be determined by national averages, where a slowdown in residential closings is usually taken to mean that sellers are having a hard time finding customers. That wouldn’t fully take into account the effect that tight inventories might have. When fewer sellers are willing to put their own homes on the market for whatever reason, the result on bottom line sales volume is the same as when buyers think homes are overpriced. When there simply aren’t enough properties available for any given price range, the number of closings falls.
The second reality is that since buying or selling a home is such a major economic decision, it is your own particular situation that matters most. Forbes.com had this in mind in a recent article when they pointed out that what “third-party indicators say” should have little bearing on the course of action either buyers or sellers follow.
For buyers, when the time is right—that is, when you have put yourself in the financial position to be able to buy comfortably—that’s usually the time when it makes sense to buy. The term “buyer’s market” too easily conveys an image of actively falling prices. If that’s true, it would seem to make the most sense to wait for those prices to fall further. Yet the latest numbers available (NAR® existing-home sales through November) show median home values have continued to rise. And just about all observers expect them to rise further in 2019. As Forbes put it, buyers who wait on the sidelines “may be in for a rude awakening if they are waiting for the bottom to drop out.”
The age-old truism holds the answer. When you can afford to buy, that’s usually the right time to buy—or at least to start looking at the offerings that fit your budget. When you find the property that fits your needs, waiting for more of a buyer’s market could mean your best long-term interests aren’t being served. Buying or selling winds up being first and foremost all about you—your current and future plans, prospects and resources.
It does happen that now is the time of year where bargains can be found—opportunities that tend to vanish once the peak selling season sets in. If you have been thinking that 2019 looks like a promising year to take a look, I hope you’ll give me a call!