The Case for Not Waiting

by John Glynn on April 13, 2009

One of the more frustrating aspects of today’s marketplace is all the wasted energy. Consumers are stuck on the fence, waiting for lower rates to refinance, waiting for lower prices to become a buyer in this buyer’s market. Sometimes waiting pays off, and it certainly has if you hesitated to buy a home in 2006, and are now reconsidering. But you could be heating your house with the windows open…

Trying to squeeze blood from a turnip, waiting for 4.500% when you can get 4.625% today can lead to disappointing results. Rates are at or within spitting distance of all time historical low levels. With all the moving pieces of the puzzle, waiting often means a lot of false starts and missed opportunities.

Example 1 (purchase). Defining the cost of waiting. Maybe you’ve got a pretty good read on the supply/demand dynamics of your market, you know about the seller’s circumstances, competition, etc. Visibility is ok, and you know this house is overpriced. So you try and pull down the price tag, but the seller isn’t going for it. Do you have a good read on the global markets? Well, do ya? Some sort of inside track? What if that house you want does eventually come down 25k, but at that exact point in time, the markets are digesting a panic over inflation expectations, and rates have shot from 4.750% to 5.250%? What’s a better deal? The answer is: Lower rate, higher price. I’ll show my math if you don’t believe me, shoot me an email to request it.

Example 2-4 (refinance). Job loss, Equity loss, Rate spike. If you owe $400k 6.250%, waiting for 4.500% when you could have 4.625% today, how much do you lose paying at 6.250% for 3, 6, 12 months of waiting? Again, it’s helpful to do the math. 12 months at 6.250% costs $6500 more in interest than 4.625% over one year. The extra .125% in rate, if you can get to 4.500%, is worth $500 over a year.

Sure, over 30 years, that’s a significant savings. But it is not worth the cost of missing the boat altogether, as we hear about consumers doing every day.

Unemployment is rising (currently 8.5%). Equity is falling (price declines of 30-50% off peak in some markets). And there is a debate going on in the markets about inflation coming from excess stimulus cash in the financial system, and whether it will cause rates to spike without warning.

Would you rather have a $6500 sure thing, or a shot at $7000 with a potential risk of zero? These are forces beyond your control, so eliminate them or avoid them if you can. Otherwise, if you’re sitting on that fence, and you fall asleep, you might end up with a nasty burn

Previous post:

Next post: