The Cost of Waiting for Prices to Fall in Sonoma County California

If home prices fall, but interest rates rise…it’s a wash….or worse. So, what are you waiting for ??  The following is a great article that really spells it out. This is the prime argument Mike and I have with our clients week in and week out. As Sonoma County buyers wait for home prices to go down, interest rates continue to creep up.  We like to stay away from the “National” real estate numbers, but this simple fact still applies;

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Many purchasers have been sitting on the sidelines waiting for home prices to hit bottom. They want to guarantee that they are purchasing at the best possible price. Like them, we also believe that prices still have some room to fall in most markets. However, we disagree that waiting is a good financial decision. The buyer should not be concerned about housing prices. They should be concerned about cost.

The cost of a house is made up of the price AND THE INTEREST RATE they will be paying. Two different pieces of news released yesterday highlight this point.

PRICES

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) released their 4th quarter housing research report. In the release, they reported that home sales rose 15.4% in the 4th quarter over the 3rd quarter. They also showed that prices remained stable during the year:

The national median existing single-family price was $170,600 in the fourth quarter, up 0.2 percent from $170,300 in the fourth quarter of 2009.

A buyer who delayed a purchase might find solace in the fact that prices have not increased. However, the other news released yesterday paints a different picture.

INTEREST RATES

The Primary Mortgage Market Survey was released by Freddie Mac which showed that the 30 year fixed rate mortgage was at 5.05%. Frank Nothaft, vice president and chief economist of Freddie Mac said:

“Long-term bond yields jumped on positive economic data reports, which placed upward pressure on mortgage rates this week…As a result, interest rates on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rose to the highest level since the last week in April 2010.”

So prices have remained stable but interest rates have risen dramatically in the last 90 days. What does that mean to a buyer looking to purchase a home this year?

The price is the same. It just costs more.

Let’s show you what the news means:

By sitting on the sidelines for the last 90 days a purchaser lost:

  • $89.44 a month
  • $1,073.28 a year
  • $32,198.40 over the thirty year life of the mortgage

If you buy a $340,000 home, double all these numbers.

Bottom Line

Even if prices fall another 10% this year, the cost of a home will increase if interest rates go up more than 1%. Buyers should not worry where prices are going. They should be concerned where costs will be later in the year.