If you’re considering purchasing a home, but worried that rising home prices mean you’ll pay too much for a house, think again. Just because home prices have risen doesn’t mean it’s a seller’s market out there. Here’s why.
1. Home Prices Aren’t Necessarily Inflated
Home prices have gone up, but have they done so unreasonably? Rewind to 2012, the unemployment rate exceeded 8%, short sales and foreclosures were still rampant, consumer confidence was low, the prospect of job growth was bleak and the general consensus was that the economy was still licking its wounds from the recession. People don’t buy homes when they’re feeling skittish about their job. Fast forward to 2015, job growth is getting traction, the banks are clearing foreclosures from their balance sheets and short sales are dropping. The result? Because the pendulum swung so far in the opposite direction with drastically low real estate prices several years ago, today’s prices in general are a reasonable correction of a settling housing market.
The likelihood for prices to continue to rise by leaps and bounds while credit is still tight is a shot in the dark, as wage strength has still not peaked. Remember, banks still have tight constraints on lending and are especially picky when approving large mortgages. Home prices in many markets are in direct proportion to the local economy. Take San Francisco, for example, where home prices are, without question, exorbitant. The tech industry is having a massive boom, driving prices up. The stronger the local economy, the more people working, the more support housing prices will have to remain strong.
2. Many Sellers Have Unrealistic Expectations
This average home price appreciation has brought sellers out of the woodwork in hopes of attaining a maximum price. Many have expectations far larger then what the market will bear. The best example of this is a home listed on the market for longer than 30 days within a strong local economy. Look at Sonoma County, Calif., where if a house is on the market longer than 30 days without a contract, it’s a good sign the property is listed too high. The only alternative is to drop the list price to induce an offer. It’s not uncommon at all these days to have a home close escrow at a price beneath the original listing price. (If you’re a seller who’s not sure what to offer on a house, talk with your real estate agent and take their advice — this is what you hire them to do.)
3. Multiple Offers Are Less Common
A good indication of a seller’s market is when there are large numbers of multiple offers – say eight to 10 – for each listed property. That is a strong indicator of the true seller’s market, much like it was in early 2014 and even summer of 2014. But these days I’m seeing that a handful of offers at best is more realistic. Less competition means a greater opportunity to get your foot in the door.
Consider this: Mortgage rates are down, increasing affordability. More people can afford to pay a little bit more for a home and not feel financially squeezed because their housing payment is lower. Prices do rise in relationship to what a ready and able buyer is willing to pay for a property. But the basics also come into play, including the location of the property, school district, bedrooms, bathrooms and lot size are all critical factors in the listing price of a home. Agents know this, but not so much sellers, who still believe they can get top dollar for their property regardless of whether they really can.