Here's a series of questions from a reader that was posted in a recent thread. (The questions were originally posted under the name "Sash," but due to a strange bug in the transition to the new Blogger the comments now show as "anonymous".)
Folks, you seem to have a lot of data on the housing prospects in 2007 and forward. I would like to request your advice for/against considering buying a new home (new construction) in the Redmond area.First off, I want to make it clear that I am not particularly an "expert." I'm just a guy that has been following the market closely, digging up some data, and making some graphs. I know more (possibly a lot more?) about the local real estate scene than your average stranger on the street, but I don't call myself an expert.
Over the past year I have seen prices climb to astronomical levels in properties being built on 116th St in Redmond (Education Hill area). In your expert opinion are those prices going to "stay" the same in the years to come?
I see that the real estate marked is 'slowing'. Prices for 30 year old homes are now showing signs of reduced price. But in my opinion even after price reduction, some these homes are so over priced. What's your take here?
Last but not least what would you price a new construction of 2500 sqft in the Education Hill area at today?
Although I don't have much personal knowledge about the specific neighborhoods Sash is asking about, I will address the questions in a more general sense. First and foremost, if you don't feel comfortable buying a house, then just don't. Purchasing a house is the single largest financial decision most people will ever make, and it's not something you should enter into lightly or out of emotion (especially fear of being "priced out forever").
As far as prices staying the same on new construction, I will just point out that what has been happening around the country is that builders are offering greater and greater "incentives" on new construction such as cash back, paying closing costs, subsidized super-low-interest loans, free upgrades, etc. So even if the purchase price is technically the same, you're getting more for your money. That being said, even the purchase prices have been dropping (in real dollars) across the country. And although most media reports claim that the Seattle-area housing market is still super-strong, builders are beginning to feel the squeeze here. I wouldn't be surprised to see increasing incentives and a softening of prices here soon.
My general advice is that if you don't have to buy a house right now (and who really "needs" to?) I recommend holding off, and saving/investing the difference between what you would be paying on a mortgage and what you are presently paying on rent.
If you feel that you must buy now, you'll be fine if you plan on staying put at least five years, stick to 20% down, get a fixed-rate loan, and keep your total monthly housing costs at or below 30% of your income. If you leave out any of those, you're essentially gambling that continued appreciation will bail you out of any potential financial crunch in the near future. Personally, that's not a bet that I'm ever willing to take, but especially not right now.
So what's your advice for Sash? Does anyone out there have any specific thoughts about the Redmond area?