Is now the best time to buy Real Estate?

As any observer of the real estate market knows, property pricing remains in the dumps with most sales being either short sales or foreclosures and REO’s. While the economy in general appears to be recovering, real estate has been lagging behind. 2011 is projected to see increasing foreclosures as lenders clean-out their backlog of defaulted loans. Meanwhile, we’re just starting into dealing with upside down commercial properties. For this reason, many economists project we won’t really turn the corner on real estate recovery until 2014 at the earliest. So why might this be the best time to buy?

4 Top Reasons

1. Properties are undervalued – As reported in, based on the latest Case-Shiller

home price index, a study by Capital Economics shows that in the fourth quarter of 2010, housing was 21 percent undervalued when compared with disposable income per capital. Looking at data included in the index published by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), the firm found that housing in Q4 was 15 percent undervalued as measured against individuals’ disposable income. Capital Economics says its results illustrate “housing is exceptionally undervalued,” and the gap is getting bigger. In its third quarter 2010 report, the research firm pegged the Case-Shiller index readings as 19 percent undervalued and the FHFA index as 14 percent below what would constitute a balanced housing value in relation to income. This downward pressure on prices will continue as the foreclosures clear out, opening the gap even further.

2. Financing Remains Very Affordable – On top of low prices, mortgage rates have fallen back a bit in recent weeks, leaving them even further below the 20-year average of 7 percent. Last week marked the third consecutive week that rates have continued to decline. A national survey conducted by Freddie Mac shows that the average 30-year fixed-rate has dropped to 4.87 percent, while the 15-year fixed-rate has slipped to 4.15 percent. When you wrap declining home prices and historically low mortgage rates together, Capital Economics says, “The incredibly favorable affordability and valuation environment is the housing market’s one big positive.”

3. Government Financial Support May be Ending – As my readers know, the future of FNMA

and Freddie Mac is in jeopardy. These Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSE’s) were originally created to provide a funding source for socially desirable but higher risk loans. When started, GSE’s provided funds for 30% of all loans. Today, that number is 90% and steps are being taken in Congress to get government out of the lending business or at least scale it back. Last week, Freddie Mac published a Memo that starting June 1st, they will no longer purchase loans with loan-to-value ratios of less than 5%. As these GSE’s retract from the marketplace, interest rates and down-payment requirements are likely to rise making home ownership less achievable.

4. Buy to Own or Invest, not to Flip – While there will always be opportunities for the

knowledgeable and diligent to make money flipping properties, declining prices and increasing loan costs will shrink the profit margins available as flippers find it harder to re-sell. In contrast, those who buy for their home or for rental investment will benefit from:
1) locking in the profit margin between current prices and actual value; and
2) potentially higher rental values as the ranks of renters swell with people who cannot obtain a loan to buy their own home.

All of the above factors indicate that right now may be the ideal time to buy real estate, not for quick profit but for the long-term stability and financial growth that real estate has historically provided as a part of your overall financial plans.

Contributed by:

Steve Beede
BPE Law Group 


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