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Thursday, November 03, 2005

Cashing Out On The Bubble

If you own property right now that you bought before the latest surge in prices, is now the time to cash out? That's the question that this article tackles, starting with an example of a local couple who did just that.

For Joan and Mike Whitney of Snohomish, Wash., outside Seattle, moving wasn't in the cards until about a year ago, when talk of a housing bubble in the area began to make Mike nervous. "A bubble seems obvious when you read that speculators are buying one in four properties, and people are paying off their credit-card debt with home-equity loans," he says.
Well, those are signs of people doing stupid things with their money, anyway. If there is a critical mass of those people then that's when I think we'll see a bubble bursting.
Despite the talk of a bubble bursting, it's more likely that home prices will continue to head up, but at a slower pace. Economic fundamentals -- strong demand and a tight supply of housing -- continue to push prices higher. In fact, some areas that have experienced relatively slow appreciation, such as Kansas and Utah, are beginning to pick up steam, says Patrick Lawler, chief economist for the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight. Mortgage interest rates, which are still close to their 40-year lows, are contributing to the momentum.

That said, it could still be a good time to ponder a move, especially if you live in the Northeast, upper Midwest or along the West Coast -- the areas most vulnerable to a pop, or at least a fizzle. On average, home values appreciated nearly 15% nationwide from July 2004 to July 2005, and that can't last forever. Neither can the annual gains of up to 30% in some of the more torrid coastal markets, says Tom Kunz, president and chief executive officer of Century 21. Kunz believes gains of 5% to 8% a year are more realistic. David Lereah, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors, expects price increases for 2005 to average 11% for existing homes and 4% for new ones.
But remember, Seattle is special, so there's no need to worry your little head. Forget selling. There's never been a better time to buy!

(Pat Mertz Esswein & Dave Lindorff , Kiplinger's Personal Finance, 10.2005)

3 comments:

WAblogger said...

Looking at the rental vs. buying ratio, Seattle is still kind of ok.

A regular house / townhouse on the East Side (Bellevue, Kirkland, Redmond) rents for ~$1400 - $2000.

The monthly payment for $400k on 30y fixed with 6.3% is $2600 (2200 + 200tax + 200ins).
In the beginning, almost everything is interest (except $300). It is tax-deductible, so the actual, so the actual cost you pay is
(2200 - 300principal + 200tax) * 2/3 + 200ins = 2100*2/3 + 200 = $1600.

I would love to hear other opinions.

-J

marin_explorer said...

"... Economic fundamentals -- strong demand and a tight supply of housing -- continue to push prices higher. In fact, some areas that have experienced relatively slow appreciation, such as Kansas and Utah, are beginning to pick up steam..."

The real reason: investors have concluded these areas have growth potential, and have moved in, pushing up prices. A key indicator is the mounting rental glut in these regions. I'm sure inventory isn't far behind.

Btw, the time to sell is before everyone thinks so, which in Seattle's case is NOW.

john_law_the_II said...

"strong demand and a tight supply of housing"

yeah, that's now. but when this thing implodes, those will drag the market down as they reverse.