Aug 15, 2008

Home Sales Rising, Says National Association of Realtors

If you've been waiting on the sidelines for the price of houses to hit rock bottom, you may have already missed the moment. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) just reported that existing-home sales last quarter went up from the first quarter of 2008 in 13
states.

True, most of the increase can be attributed to people who couldn't resist a super-bargain, like on foreclosed homes in Northern California and Florida. But as soon as you have willing buyers, you have competition, which tends to boost prices before too long. And in some areas of the country, prices actually rose in the last quarter -- like in the Yakima, Washington, Binghamton, New York, and Amarillo, Texas, areas.

It's really all just a reminder that timing the real estate market can be harder than it looks. For all the external economic indicators playing a role (unemployment, mortgage interest rates), the final piece of the puzzle is buyer psychology, and when enough homebuyers decide they want in on the market, it can change in an instant.

That takes us right back to the strategy we've always recommended: Look for the house you want to live in for a long time, in a neighborhood where home values tend to remain stable, and at a price that won't have you begging your bank for a break in a few years. Then enjoy it, even if prices go down in the short term, knowing you've got a solid long-term investment.

Ilona Bray