No one has a crystal ball so determining when a market is going to hit bottom is pretty much like shooting craps. Sooooo – anyone trying to TIME THE BOTTOM is clearly a gambler. Its not savvy, its not cool or even all that smart – and yes…it is RISKY to try to time the bottom.
People think that if they haven’t made a decision to buy that no decisions were made. That makes them feel “safe”. NOT TRUE. The buyer made a decision and that decision was to punt. So in reality, the buyer is rolling the dice that the market will decline more or at least not improve. They are also gambling that interest rates will remain at record lows. As one famous blogger (Lenn Harley) puts it to her buyer clients “The market will bottom six months before you decide its time to buy a home.”
All real estate is local. National numbers are next to useless in determining where any one local market is going. One way to peek behind the curtain and try to glean what is going on in the location of interest. Another tactic is to look at surrounding communities that influence real estate values in the area of interest.
The chart below is of median prices over the past several years. The big knife fell in 2009 when prices dropped 12%. They were bolstered a bit in 2010. So far in 2011 the trend has been down – however – that 7% is skewed somewhat by the type of housing that sold. In 2010 – roughly 7% was at the low end (entry) level but in 2011 15% of the sales were entry level… while 15 % were at the highest end of the market. In 2010 the higher end accounted for over 20% of the sales. From my gleaning of the MLS data, prices drifted down about 3-4%. This indicates that price drops are slowing and you are bouncing along the bottom.
For all the charts – the red bars indicate prices before the market started to correct, the green bars are after the correction and the orange bar represents the current year. All data is derived from the EAMLS (Empire Access Multiple Listing Service).
The White Plains market is influenced by other neighboring markets in. Manhattan is key and moving up in price and volume. Mitchell Hall had an excellent Q3 report of that market. In addition, markets in neighboring towns exert a major influence and can help us glean what is likely to lie ahead for White Plains. Markets such as Scarsdale, Mamaroneck and Larchmont tend to be resilient. . People want to live there and when prices go down – those that couldn’t otherwise afford these areas rush in to buy while the prices are affordable.
As you can see from the charts below – these markets are on their way back up. They were a bargain in 2009 – but not so much anymore. White Plains is where many buyers go when these areas become less affordable. White Plains is a great alternative with housing prices that are generally lower and taxes that are more affordable than the likes of Scarsdale and Mamaroneck or Larchmont. With prices heading higher in the surrounding areas – these areas are rapidly becoming less affordable. But White Plains is STILL on sale…at least for the time being. Given where these other markets have been heading – White Plains is likely poised for a strong recovery in the foreseeable future.
So you can make a decision not to make a decision and wait (as Lenn Harley says) until “six months after the market hits the bottom” in order to buy. Of course that ensures that you will miss the bottom of the market and many of the advantages of a buyers market. So you see, staying on the fence is not necessarily “safe”.
©2011 – Ruthmarie G. Hicks – https://thewestchesterview.com
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