How to Time the Market...

Posted by Muriel Ballard on Thursday, December 17th, 2015 at 5:56pm.

I am always inspired at this time of year to point out to my clients the potential of doing real estate transactions in the dead of winter, in the middle of the holidays.

Time has proven that the spring is the most active time of year for buyers, with another burst of activity in the fall.  Sellers know this and often hold off on listing their homes until spring, hoping that people will all jump on board to buy at the same time, thus driving prices up.  This is a great strategy for the seller, but not a winning proposition for the buyer. 

For some buyers timing the market is irrelevant because their buying power allows them to afford whatever they want, and one of the things they want is a wider selection of inventory.  Other buyers absolutely need to pay attention to these cycles in order to squeak into the expensive Marin market, their buying power being at the opposite side of the spectrum.  Personally, I like to buy real estate for the lowest possible price.  I’m crazy about value!

Now is a perfect time to re-evaluate properties that are sitting on the market, being over-looked by the average consumer.  I found our current house in an act of desperation after the contingent buyer for our house decided to pull the plug if we couldn’t find something within a week.  I had seen EVERYTHING that I was interested in.  But the pressure was on so I went out one day planning to look at 13 homes that I wouldn’t even consider prior, but they were in our price range so I felt I had to see them as a last ditch effort.  The 12th house on my list was a jackpot.  It had been sitting on the market, had terrible pictures online—but as I drove down the long driveway, and through the gate, the potential in the property started taking shape in my mind. The view was splendid, as well as the floorplan. We ended up making an offer, got an excellent price and have been pinching ourselves ever since as our equity racks up.

There are several things you can do to try and take advantage of this market, even if you are not exactly ready.  One would be to talk to your mortgage broker and see if there are any steps you can take now to set you up for a better loan when you’re ready to pull the trigger.  Adjustments to your credit can have positive impacts on your interest rates.  Being pre-approved and having a nice loan waiting can be inspiring.  Also, consider a short term bridge loan, to help you get into that new bargain-priced property while waiting to sell your home in that hotter spring market.

Then, once you know your price range, take a second look at everything.  It may just be that your dream of living in Fairfax can be skyrocketed when you get an awesome home on a ½ acre in south Novato, backing up to open space.  Stay open-minded.  And go look at places.  Pictures lie.  I cannot tell you how many times I have been blown away by a property that I had zero hope for and, conversely, how many times I have been disappointed by a place that used wide angle lenses and fast-flip fixes to dazzle. 

The bottom line is, if you want to time the market you must go counter to the culture.  Buy while others are sleeping off their turkey dinners.  And sellers, if your property is unconventional, coming on in the slow season could be a winning proposition for you if inventory is low.

Please let me know if I can support you in any way.

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