Earlier this week, a few real estate market survey results were announced in the media. This could be good news for house shoppers. In January, prices of homes on average were 11% lower than prices of homes at the same time last year. These results are based on the S&P Case/Shiller index, which collects actual sales prices.
Here are the metropolitan areas included in the survey and the associated 12-month sales decline (or increase in some cases).
|Metropolitan Area||1-Year Change|
In addition to the national price decline, more people were buying houses in February. According to the National Association of Realtors, an organization whose members would benefit from any positive spin on the housing market, sales by homeowners increased by 2.9% from January to February.
I live in the New York metropolitan area. According to the numbers above, our price decline was less than the average, which has me thinking that there may be more declines ahead. Unfortunately, I can’t predict the future. I’m not shopping for a home right now, so I’m not plugged into the market. I don’t have the desire to lock myself into one location for the long-term and furnish and maintain a home, especially on my own. I’m wondering how much longer I’ll feel this way, however.
When I made the decision to settle down, it will not be a financial decision based on market trends. I will buy when and if the right time arrives for me. I’ll try to make the best buying decision at that time while taking the market into account.
Most people moving from one house to another are buying and selling at practically the same time. This negates the basic effects of the market; the disadvantage you have on one side of the transaction is the advantage you’ll have on the other side. If you’re buying your first house, you don’t have the benefit of the flat market, so perhaps the state of the industry should play a bigger role in the decision.
Would you wait for more positive market signs before buying a house — particularly if you’re buying your first house?
Updated February 6, 2012 and originally published March 26, 2008.