Do You Buy A Home Now Or Wait For Falling Prices

Posted by Joe Manausa on Tuesday, June 9th, 2009 at 10:12am.

Last week we discussed home affordability in the Tallahassee real estate market and we found that home affordability was similar to levels seen in 2004. We discussed the elements that made up home affordability, but we left out a crucial point.

Fortunately, long time reader "Doug" was there to point it out for us. Doug reminded us that for First Time Home Buyers, the new federal tax credit made it a "no brainer" to buy today. The first time home buyer would be able to receive an $8,000 credit against future taxes as well as take advantage of today's lower interest rates.

Being that the Tallahassee Real Estate Blog usually features some sort of analysis, I figured this would make for a good comparative study. Should a first time homebuyer purchase this year or wait another year hoping prices will drop another 5%?

First Time Homebuyer Tax Credit Is $8000 Worth Of Price Stability

The first thing to understand about this tax credit is that you don't have to pay it back. The U.S. Government is truly giving you $8,000 towards the purchase of your first home (if you want more information about the tax credit, there are special reports in the sidebar on the right that you can download). This means that if you buy a home today and sell it later, it would have to lose more than $8,000 in value for the credit to not be a benefit.

Should You Buy A Home Now Or Wait Until Next Year?

Supposed you are a first time homebuyer looking at buying a home for around $150,000. If you used a FHA Fixed Rate Mortgage loan, your purchase would require just under $5,000 out of pocket (if the deal was structured to minimize your out of pocket expenses) and your monthly principal and interest payment would be just over $800 per month.

The following real estate chart compares a purchase of a home today versus the same home a year from now (assuming a price drop of 5%). Since interest rates are already rising, I've used a conservative future rate of 6.75%.


This example compares buying a $150K house today versus waiting until next year and hoping the price will drop another 5%. In the graph, both the tax credit as well as the equity are negative, as the buyer receives this as a benefit.

For the home bought this year, the equity is calculated as the total of the principal portion of the mortgage payment. For the home purchased next year, the equity is the total of the principal portion of the payments, plus the difference in the initial purchase price.

The down payment and the total of the payments are positive, as this is what will be spent during an anticpated holding period of 6 years. Based upon the findings above, this buyer would save $14, 322 by making the purchase this year.

What this information shows us is that if our assumptions hold true, then there is a significant benefit to buying this year to take advantage of the First Time Homebuyer Tax Credit.


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Joe Manausa is a real estate investor and the Broker and Co-Owner of Joe Manausa Real Estate. He can be reached via e-mail through the Tallahassee Real Estate Website or catch his latest writings on the Tallahassee Florida Real Estate Blog , or by calling (850) 386-2001.
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Joe Manausa, MBA is a 26 year veteran of real estate brokerage in Tallahassee, Florida and has owned and managed his own company since 1992. He is a daily blogger with content that focuses on real estate analytics and providing his clients with a tactical advantage in today's challenging market.

2 Responses to "Do You Buy A Home Now Or Wait For Falling Prices"

Marc wrote: Yes but based on the current supply conditions and if interest rates remain where they are (its probably more likely they will go up, making things even worse) a 5% drop would seem way too optimistic - probably the order of an additional 10 to 20% is needed just to match the nationwide decline in house prices from the peak to today.

You've said before the Tallahassee market lags the national market by about a year. Since national home prices have fallen 17% in the past year, that seems to be a more probably figure for what will happen here in Tallahassee over the next year.

Posted on Tuesday, June 9th, 2009 at 8:51pm.

Joe Manausa wrote: Thanks Marc, and I don't disagree that is a possibility. I think where I disagree is that the example used is below the median price point in Tallahassee and I don't see much more than 5% depreciation (even if that) for homes that are already properly priced. I think homes at $200K plus have some vulnerability and homes $400K plus are due for more than 5%.

Now there are a lot of homes in Tallahassee (student area rentals) that are priced too high now so you can't consider it depreciation when they finally lower their asking price to what they would sell for today.

Posted on Wednesday, June 10th, 2009 at 9:53am.

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