2009 is the Brightest Year

Last night was “Chinese New Year” and unlike 2008, which was “a blind” year, 2009 is “a bright year”.  Now before you get all excited about this Year of the Ox, let me explain what “bright” means.

Remember the movie “Wait Until Dark”? The fear and damage caused to the blind woman, when simply being touched with a scarf, by her “torturer” in her darkness?  It wasn’t WHAT he was doing…it was that she couldn’t see it coming…couldn’t see who and what it was.  That was 2008.

In the ancient culture  of Chinese New Year, the  “eyes” of the year are on February 4th. The dates that encompass each year are determined by the cycles of the moon. Some years, like 2008 have NO February 4th, and so are blind years.  Others have only foresight, with February 4th in the beginning, but not at  the end.  Some years have only hindsight, with February 4th at the end of the year, but not at the beginning.

2009, which started last night at the first new moon of 2009, has two February 4ths, giving us “the brightest” of years, with both foresight AND hindsight.   The year begins on 1/26 and ends on 2/13 this year, so 2/4 comes around twice. Bright doesn’t mean GOOD, it means if you don’t see it coming…and if you look back at the end of the year and “wish you had” done things differently…then you were choosing to bury your head in the sand, and you refused to see the handwriting on the wall.

  1. Thinking about flipping a house?  Think again.
  2. Thinking low priced home sales all around you, are not going to affect your property’s value? Think again.
  3. Think the real estate market is going to come back to the point where all people with a real estate license can make a decent living?  Think again.
  4. Think Obama is going to turn this market around by the 2nd Quarter? Think again.
  5. Think throwing good money after bad is going to save the economy? Think again.

If you bought a property in July of 2007…bite the bullet – or stay in it.  Wishing the market is going to get back there soon, is not going to make it happen.

In a “bright” year, you know what to expect and you base your actions accordingly.

  1. Try to get a loan mod, ONLY if you can afford the resultant new payments.
  2. If you see no hope of your income getting back up to anywhere near where it was when you bought the house; let it go to foreclosure, wave goodbye, and reduce your expenses.
  3. If you are a move up buyer, understand the house you buy is also down in price, and reduce the sale price on the one you are selling accordingly.
  4. If you are afraid of losing your job, stop buying toys you don’t need to have, and put 3-6 months of expenses in the bank, just in case.
  5. Recognize that Obama as President means we have the Leadership to help us do what WE need to do…not an Il Salvatore with a magic wand.

It’s a bright year…use it wisely.

Buying wisely in any market

[photopress:seg.gif,thumb,alignright]I find that most people who track countywide stats, looking for bubbles and market trends, are not people who are buying and selling property. Anyone who is actually buying or selling property knows, that countywide stats tell you both everything and nothing. It is in the small subsections of any given market that you will find the information you need to make wiser choices.

For instance, can you really compare ramblers built in the 60s to newer housing choices? Can you compare “too small for anyone” condos of 400 square feet, to the saleability of 2 bedroom 2 bath condos? Lumping everything together tells you nothing. Houses on busy roads, for example, will not sell as well, and will sell worse at times like this when buyers are being more cautious. I think of houses on busy roads when I hear comments like, “The market is getting weak! I see more and more for sale signs every day while driving to work!” Well let’s assume that most people do not drive on quiet 25 mi. per hour residential streets when driving to work. So what they are seeing is the weakness of properties situated on busy roads, not the market in general.

A good example is tracking newer townhomes, in the $300,000 to $500,000 range, within 3 miles of Microsoft. This is a market segment that is driven by its own forces and outperforms the market in general. In the last six months there were only 21 townhomes sold, built since 1990 and within 3 miles of Microsoft, between $300,000 and $500,000. Of these 21, 16 sold AT or better than full price in less than 30 days. Several in less than 10 days and most in less than 20 days. At the moment there are only 3 available, all on market less than 15 days and two at less than 5 days on market and there are 3 in escrow.

So of the total six month inventory, you can expect four to sell per month and there are only 3 on market, two of which have only been on for two days and three days, respectively. Those are some pretty strong market stats. What are the odds that these will start dwindling on market for excessive periods of time or go down in price? Slim to none. Making offers on this product, based on what you are reading about the King County market in general, would make no sense whatsoever.

So Chicken Little, maybe the sky IS falling for older ramblers built on busy roads with only one bathroom. But conversely the sky is still the limit in newer townhomes for sale within close proximity to Microsoft. There’s a whole lot of varied stats in between. Make sure you are making your choices based on the product and market segment that YOU are considering buying. Buying the biggest “bargain” on market, could lead you into buying in that segment of the market that will not appreciate, and will be difficult to sell later for at or more than what you paid.