Homeowners Vs. Investors
The difference between investors and the average home buyer is that investors don’t have to buy a property – because they don’t need to live in it. This gives them a lot more ability to profit in different types of markets, because they are able to buy when real estate prices are down, and sell when they are up. Home buyers don’t have this much flexibility, but what they can take from real estate investors is how they look at the market. Like any good investor, a real estate investor looks at the market strategically, and decides whether to buy or sell based on the potential to benefit. The bottom line is, what the media is saying about the market doesn’t enter into the equation. (For more insight, see 5 Things Every Real Estate Pro Knows.)
When the news is reporting grim figures about real estate and housing prices it’s hard to be enthusiastic about jumping into the real estate market. But investors could have said the same thing about investing in the stock market in 2009, when the S&P 500 dropped to its lowest point in more than 10 years; however, those who chose solid companies during the low point saw major gains when the market rebounded through 2010.
A real estate buyer’s market occurs when there is more property for sale (supply), than there are buyers (demand), forcing prices down. While this type of market is bad news for homeowners who want to sell their homes, it’s great for those entering the real estate market. In this case, new homebuyers have the opportunity to buy properties at a low point. The lack of competition in the market will also allow them to take their time choosing a property, and provide them with some bargaining leverage.
Because in some cases home prices may not rebound for a long time, buyers need to choose their homes carefully and look for areas where homes are truly undervalued – and not just cheap. Buyers should also weigh the fact that they’ll have to pay to live somewhere – whether they buy or rent – so even a property that maintains its value may provide significant savings over time. (For more tips on how to find an undervalued property, check out The 5 Factors Of A “Good” Location.)
Homeowners may also fret about this type of market, but unless they are looking to sell, they shouldn’t. Sure, this affects their net worth on paper, but it’s just like holding a stock in a down market: the price only matters if you plan to sell.
A seller’s market is just the opposite of a buyer’s market: low supply and high demand for available properties drive prices up. This is the type of real estate market the United States experienced before the market crashed in 2009, when bad loans and rising interest rates conspired to make runaway prices unsustainable. For those who managed to cash in on big gains in real estate prices by selling their homes at the peak, this was a great market. For those who were buying those homes, it was a disaster.