Jul 21, 2008

Buying a House Now is a Good Idea, According to the National Association of Realtors®

I recently came across an entertaining website from the National Association of Realtors® at www.housingmarketfacts.com. I will admit that I was originally drawn to it because I was expecting to find lots of statistics and predictions about market conditions, which I love, in part just because I can reflect, "Wow, there are really that many people looking to buy a house with 8 bathrooms?" or later look back and say, "Were they wrong about that!" And while the NAR has a wealth of statistics and predictions, this site was mostly a gateway to specific parts of the organization's official site, designed specifically for people who are thinking about buying. (It's more entertaining than the regular NAR website, though, since you're welcomed by a Princess Leia-like character... and by that I mean the little hologram projected by R2-D2.)

But not to be distracted. While elsewhere I'm hearing the housing market just took the biggest drop in two decades, the NAR is trying to convince me of the wealth-building value of buying a home. It seems like a tough sell (no pun intended), and it reminded me of something important first-time buyers should consider: when relying on information, consider your source. 

By no means am I saying that the NAR isn't a reputable source. But, as a first-time buyer, you should definitely look deeper before deciding when and where to buy and whether you'll build wealth in the process. One is that markets are very local. Values fluctuate within a county, city, or sometimes block. Another is that markets right now are volatile. Things can change quickly; any national organization compiling statistics can't keep up with the pace.

I agree with the NAR -- over the long term, most houses appreciate and help buyers build wealth. But whether, when, and by how much are all dependent on specifics. You can find the details in your market by checking comparable sales, evaluating sales history and growth, talking to local professionals, and keeping an eye on the amount of inventory in the market and how long it's sitting around.

And if you want a statistic to justify your decision to either buy or wait, jump on the internet. I'm sure you'll find it somewhere.

Alayna Schroeder