Real Estate Risks: Why Playing the Waiting Game May Cost You

chess board with a hand moving a piece
By Rhonda Garrison & Brittany Barton, Brokers,
RE/MAX Key Properties

First published in the Source Weekly

The real estate market, like any other market, is cyclical in nature. It goes through periods of highs and lows, and it can be tempting for both buyers and sellers to try and time the market perfectly. However, “waiting it out” carries its own set of risks that individuals should carefully consider.

Real estate, historically, has proven to be a wise investment. It’s a tangible asset that typically appreciates over time. While there are market fluctuations, property values tend to increase over the long term, especially in a desirable market like Central Oregon. Trying to predict market highs and lows can be a futile endeavor. Instead, prospective buyers should assess their specific needs and current financial situation.

For Buyers

When considering a home purchase, buyers should prioritize their immediate requirements and financial stability. Waiting for the “perfect” market conditions may result in missed opportunities. Factors such as a growing family, job relocation, or changes in finances may necessitate a move. Dwelling on possible future market conditions while you have immediate needs could really hurt you in the end. Buyers should consider the now.

For Sellers

Sellers, on the other hand, need to be aware of the importance of maintaining and investing in their homes. The condition and appearance of a property can significantly impact its value and desirability in the market. While low inventory can be advantageous for sellers, it doesn’t mean that buyers will settle for dated or poorly maintained homes. Today, buyers are increasingly selective, seeking properties that require minimal updates and repairs.

What About Interest Rates?

The topic of interest rates is a significant point of concern for both buyers and sellers. While some may reminisce about the historically low interest rates of the past, it’s critical to recognize that these rates are unlikely to return. Economic factors change, and the real estate market, like any other market, adapts to new conditions. Waiting indefinitely for lower interest rates may not be a practical strategy.

In the real estate market, rates may fluctuate, but as I always say “they won’t go to zero.” While it’s possible that rates may decrease slightly, significant changes could be influenced by various factors like stock market rallies, political events, or economic shifts. Therefore, it’s unwise to hinge one’s real estate decisions on the anticipation of a rate reduction.

Sellers are sometimes hesitant to sell due to concerns about rising interest rates. They fear giving up their current low rate and purchasing a new home at a higher rate. While this is a valid concern, it’s important to remember that the real estate market is interconnected. If everyone adopts a wait-and-see approach, the market can stagnate, leading to fewer opportunities for buyers and sellers alike.

When sellers are waiting to sell, and buyers are waiting to buy, there is a standoff in the market. Eventually, something has to give. It might be a shift in interest rates, a sudden stock market rally, or the outcome of an election. When these events occur, they can lead to increased competition on both sides of the real estate transaction.

In conclusion, “waiting it out” can be a risky strategy. Waiting for the perfect market conditions may lead to missed opportunities and financial regrets. In the world of real estate, patience is a virtue, but so is understanding the ever-changing nature of the market.