The San Francisco Chronicle just splashed more bad news about the housing industry all over the front page of the Friday (March 14th) issue. Sales are down-way down. Part of the explanation seems to be that tightening lending standards have made it hard to afford a home since qualifying at artificially low teaser rates is no longer acceptable. Stated income loans are only available for self-employed individuals and Wall Street stopped buying mortgage backed securities so rates are up too.
Of course buyers who have been priced out of the market are now waiting to jump in at the bottom, which only adds to the rapid decrease in sales activity.
Timing couldn’t have been worse for Congress to approve raising the ceiling on federally backed mortgages from $417,000 to $729,950 in the Bay Area. Many buyers considering purchasing a home are enticed to wait out the market a little more to see if rates will drop further.
So if we had a crystal ball, we’d say that when the new higher conforming loan cap goes into effect, it’s just possible that many buyers will get off of the fence. And if they all do that at the same time, there just possibly could be competition once again for housing. The biggest fear if you’re a buyer is you get in the market too early and your home’s value could go down before it goes back up; that’s a horrible position to be in if you have to sell while it’s down. The alternative is to get lucky and time it perfectly, or wait to see values going up and be assured you didn’t get the best deal. I don’t know for sure, but history tends to repeat itself and I’ll bet home values go up again sometime in our future. While everyone’s trying to guess when the bottom is not everyone will get it right.
Maybe buying before that happens would be a good idea. If rates do go down further, one could always refinance…