Profile picture for dacolan

Why nobody wants to buy a house

Commentary: With government bribe money gone, so is any sane demand

Nobody wants to buy a house. Nobody in their right mind, anyway.

Oh, sure, a lot of gullible first-time buyers got lured into the market over the last 18 months to take advantage of an $8,000 federal tax credit (not realizing how little difference that money will make when the first property-tax bill hits at the same time the roof springs a pesky leak and the city hits you with a special assessment for sidewalk repair). But that tax credit has expired -- and, with it, any semblance of demand for homes.
...
Nobody wants to buy a house because in order to buy a house you have to have some bit of confidence in the future. And today there isn't much confidence in anything that has to do with the economy.
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No, the only thing that will turn this mess around is jobs. Until this economy can put people back to work -- and put them back to work gainfully, full-time, using their skills and not merely temping in some capacity way beneath their experience -- it won't be able to instill any confidence that buying a house is a good idea.
  • August 26 2010 - US
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Answers (47)

Profile picture for sunnyview
Warning: Sarcasm alert...No. NO. I don't believe it. You must be wrong. Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the NAR, here says that prices will stabilize and level off in the second quarter and he's a scientist or something. Everything is fine. 
  • August 26 2010
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People are buying houses but these people are also doing it for investment purposes. You have to do area search and average house sold in your area to come up to a CMA. That whould tell you the right price to list your house and it will be sold. If you need my help to prepare a CMA for you, please let me know. Regards. AD singh,
  • August 26 2010
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Profile picture for Dunes....
There ya go dacolan...feel better now that it's been explained to you plus you received an offer of help to prepare a CMA lol


  • August 26 2010
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Okay, just to annoy the People Who Buy Now are STUPID people:

Obviously, RE is a mess.  Many people have been hurt, devastated and ruined by the market.  Can't argue anything different.

However, sometimes people just want to buy a home.  They don't necessarily want to lose money, they would like to think it is a good long term investment but regardless, they will still seek home ownership.

People know that just driving their brand new, shiny, expensive car off the lot depreciates it.
People know (well, most people anyway) that walking out of a jewelry store with a brand new purchase, they will never recoup that cost or anything close to it.
Against all logic, people make purchases that have no benefit other than it is what the purchaser wants or feels, for whatever reason, they need.

Historically, home ownership has been a pretty solid long term investment.  Now, maybe not so much unless we are talking really long term.  Even then, who knows?

So, are people uncertain about what to do?  Of course.  Dacolan is absolutely correct that until the job situation improves, the RE market is going to remain dismal.

Yet, home ownership is a desire that is still important to many.  A lot of people, who are secure in employment, are less concerned about whether or not their house is a great investment than they are about just owning their own home.

This may not be logical to many here, but you can't deny that home ownership goes beyond money and into a need to make something your own.  To have a place to go home to every day that is yours (and yes, before you point out the obvious, I realize that for the vast majority of people, it is really the bank's).
I guess its a psychological thing but I see this every day. 

Home ownership comes with a tremendous amount of responsibility.
For people who go into it with their eyes wide open, this is exactly what they are looking for.
They are not gullible or stupid.  They just want to buy a place of their own.
  • August 26 2010
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'The California fence-sitter buyers' make the 1st mistake when they do not take the advantage of  the lowest median home price in Jan. 2009, the CA median prices rose 28% from since, however the home price are still affordable compare with the income (of course, not for everyone), i don't think that they should make the second mistake that don't buy at this time. 

http://www.car.org/newsstand/newsreleases/julyreport/

  • August 26 2010
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Profile picture for mikemartinez
people will always buy and sell real estate.  there is no bad home out there their is just bad pricing
  • August 26 2010
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Profile picture for dacolan
That is a relief. Between Lawrence Yun's reassurances and Mr. Singh's comprehensive explanation and offer to prepare a CMA, I feel much better about the housing market. After all, if you can't trust a commissioned salesperson (or their point man for propaganda), who can you trust?
  • August 26 2010
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Profile picture for Blue Nile
I know... what about Bernie Madoff?  He was getting double digit returns for those that got in early.

(I just hoped they remembered to cash out before Bernie admitted the whole thing was a Sham).
  • August 26 2010
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Profile picture for Dunes....
I don't know if anyone would be interested but thought I'd share anyway

Tomorrow morning August 27 Ben Bernanke will give a Speech stating the Fed Reserves position after this weeks Reports from the 2nd Quarter..He in at Jackson Hole Wyoming where meetings have been going on attended by most of the Big Players...No one knows what he is going to say yet (Though there is a lot of speculation)

CNBC will be covering the Speech and already has done interviews ect. with most the attendees...
Here's a Link to info about the Speech and interviews...Link

Also if you are interested in keeping up with the Current Gov Data ect..then you may be interested in Browsing the Federal Reserve Site, if you are not familiar with it there are Tons of data/Statistics/Reports, Credit card rules/changes ect. and they put out a new Economy Report/Consumer Confidence Report every month...Link

There is also a ton of info on the Federal Reserve Bank of New York
Site..Link

The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis is where they do the Economic Research...Link

Here is the Entire Federal Reserve System Online if you wish to look at what each of the 12 Federal Reserve Regional Banks do or have available in information..Link

The FDIC site also has a Ton of Data worth Browsing..Link



I know...Boring, but I think it all applies to the answer to the Question asked and much of the Data/Statistics to explain the lack of Buyers ect. can be found at the above sites...At least you can look at what the Big Boys are looking at before or without any Spin....
  • August 26 2010
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To counter a little bit of the nonsense on this thread:

(people just want to buy, they don't care if the home depreciates, similar to a car)

A recent poll of buyers who bought in June,70% expect their home value to rise by 10% a year for the next five years....

So, no actually they aren't buying with a keen eye on the market and a desire to nest, they are clearly deluded, probably listened to the type of Realtors who post a new thread on here everyday saying 'now is the best time to buy'
  • August 26 2010
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You obviously don't live in Austin, TX. Regardless, don't you realize that if you rent, all you're doing is paying somebody else's mortgage? A mortgage isn't a life long commitment either, nor should you look at it like one. You're not getting married to your house, you're putting equity into it, and if after 10 years you don't like it anymore, it's a lot simpler to 'divorce' and move on from it - while taking your hard earned dollars with you.

I encourage you to move down to Austin, TX - there are lots of areas here where I'm confident in seeing a reasonable appreciation rate, so I'd be more than happy to rent to YOU so you can throw away your money into MY equity. After all, it's your viewpoint and others with the same that make investors rich. I welcome you with open arms to our wonderful city.
  • August 27 2010
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He's right, until the media starts to report an upswing in housing prices and job growth, people will hold off on buying. They are scared they will lose their jobs if they buy. Its a wait and see right now, its a good thing cause once everything i guess is back to normal, there will be a flood of buying to drive back up demand. I think it will be in 2012 before we see any kind of upswing.

  • August 27 2010
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People who come to me with the intention of purchasing a house almost always are concerned about one thing-  if they can afford the monthly payments.
I haven't had one buyer initiate any kind of discussion regarding future resale value because, although nobody wants to lose money with resale, making money is not their concern.

I have made it clear to each and every buyer I have dealt with that if they sell within the next few years, they may not recoup their costs.

There are people out there where investment value is their primary concern, but my personal experience with people looking to purchase is totally different.

I have never stated to anybody at anytime that now is a great time to buy.  Its not my job to tell people when it is right for them to buy. I would never presume to be arrogant enough to think that somebody would buy a house because I was stupid enough to say that. There have been times when I have told people that due to their particular financial situation, it is not the right time to buy, but thinking that I can/should influence people to buy is utterly ridiculous.

There is nothing nonsensical about this.  The desire to own a home often transcends numerical logic and I realize that there are people here who simply cannot fathom this.
  • August 27 2010
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" A recent poll of buyers who bought in June,70% expect their home value to rise by 10% a year for the next five years...."

Rob, I wish I had never read that, it's just sad!

@Dunes, your links are not boring, they reflect the realism we are experiencing. They are only boring if you want to just bury your head in the sand and expect the economy to cycle back on it's own and that sure isn't going to happen.   

While the GDP revision was " not as bad " as estimated, it is still pathetic. The 3rd Qtr GDP could easily go negative. We need a shock to the system, a positive shock, to offset the negative shocks! " Taxing wealthy people " is not the answer, they will just move more money to the sidelines and wait it out. Even if all their assets were confiscated it is a drop in the bucket. Just to stir things up, I like the Fair Tax since it would pull TRILLIONS into our economy.  

  • August 27 2010
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Profile picture for Blue Nile
A recent survey (reported on NPR about 4 weeks ago) also stated that people on average only look at a home 21 minutes before buying it!

The agents don't want to let the potential buyer look at the "real" issues, such as the "structure" but only the "cosmetics".  They want you to walk through the space and see the floor and wall finishes and the floor plan.  They don't want you looking under the house nor in the attic space, nor at the site grading.

They tell you that that is what the home inspection is for.  If you "like" the house, you make an offer and pay for an inspection to find out about the structure.

In my mind, this is foolish, to be paying for all these inspections to know if you MIGHT want to buy a house!  A 5 minute look under the house should tell you most of what you want to know about the structure.

And yet no agent ever offers to let you look, unless it has a walk-in basement that you might be able to see; and even then, better bring your own lights.

Better yet, bring an infrared camera if you can afford it.

----------------------

And yes, I'm SHOCKED about people expecting 10% rise in value per year!  People used to expect 7% (= doubling in a decade), and that was entirely due to "inflation", which meant the value of the dollar went down, not that the value of houses went up.  With the bubble and tax dollar give away, we still need to see a 20% to 50% decline in most markets.  And the government claims 3% inflation or less, so even the 7% inflation rate was out of line (and partially based on the 5% to 12% interest that savings deposits were making in the 1970's and early 1980's).

It clearly shows that too many people have gone to misleading semiNARs, or watched too much "make over" television paid for by the product manufacturers that needed to sell their wares.
  • August 27 2010
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Profile picture for Blue Nile
what you get in Austin...

Who's ever heard of using 6" to 24" pieces of trash scrap lumber spliced together to make wall studs?

REA's in Austin are still wearing blinders.
  • August 27 2010
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Oh shi..............................................................
  • August 27 2010
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Profile picture for lukeferrel
wow, a thread full of bitter Real Estate agents who want to dump on each other... Glad I'm not buying/selling in any of your markets because I would hate to have any kind of contact with anyone involved with this kind of immaturity
  • August 27 2010
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Profile picture for Dunes....
Thank-you Clay

Joan we know there will always be people who buy for the reasons you point out but that does not mean they are Financially making the Right Decision at this time...To take it even further let's just agree maybe they are or maybe they are not making the right Financial decision, this discussion is about ..Are They? Buying something on an Emotional basis is not IMO a good thing..?
Gotta have a New Car to feel secure, gotta have a House, gotta have??? I understand people feel this way but that's a Psychological Discussion not an Economic Discussion or a Financial Discussion..

Yes there will always be people who buy for the Reasons you state but I would suggest at this time the number of Buyers/Sales suggest they are a Small Minority...Many who bought for those reasons in the past are IMO among the Foreclosure Numbers or Short Sales...

I Fathom what you are saying...I just don't agree it's a good thing and I don't agree it that it's OK for anyone to buy for those Reasons..That's not an informed Buyer it's a Childish Buyer IMHO..

Perhaps Harsh sounding but it's my True feelings...There is nothing wrong in my opinion with the Desire or Dream of owning but committing to a Huge Financial Obligation..to BORROW to do it based on the reasons you give...
Why are we in this Economic and Housing mess again?



 
  • August 27 2010
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Profile picture for Dunes....
Just a little added Note...
Joan you've seen me answered Hundreds of Questions from people asking for info about buying and if I have some sources of info ect. I always provide them and I do not lecture them on how they shouldn't buy..unless they are asking that question

Ranting, cheap shots or I'm smart you're dumb is just immature no matter which side of the fence you are on..

I for one enjoy our discussions and always know I am hearing YOUR honest feelings/thoughts and not the Thoughts of an RE Agent looking for leads....I for one am very glad you are here and sharing
  • August 27 2010
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Profile picture for dacolan
The basic story is very simple. For a hundred years, from 1896 to 1996, nationwide house prices just tracked the overall rate of inflation. This is a very long period in a very big market. If we see a trend like this persist for a hundred years it is reasonable to expect it to continue into the future, unless something big in the fundamentals changes. And, no one has produced any evidence that passes the laugh test that anything in the fundamentals of the housing market has changed.

This means that we should expect house prices to continue to fall, with nationwide prices dropping another 15 to 20 percent to complete the process of deflating the bubble. This price decline is inevitable and in many ways desirable. I don't know why any of us would be happy if our kids had to pay more to buy their first house.
  • August 27 2010
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Profile picture for Blue Nile
Only 6 REA's posting on here, in 23 posts...  I'm not seeing any bitterness nor immaturity nor "dumping" nor "cheep shots" nor "ranting" nor childishness.  Just a difference of opinion, and a difference of motives.  One states it is the economics, and clearly shows the economics and pending outcome.  One says it is desire and need and that there are more than plenty enough buyers.  One says his market is different in Austin so that he will be happy to rent you one of his to subsidize your cost of living.  One says it is all about the pricing point of each unit at the given time.  One says that some foolish investors are more than happy to take a risk on trashed properties, and one thinks there will be a flood of buyers creating another bubble in 2012 with no statistics to back the opinion.

The rest are not Real Estate agents.  So, it becomes obvious that you need to factor in vested interest in the interpretation of opinion.
  • August 27 2010
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Pas, as an agent who has crawled under a house when looking with a buyer as well as climbing up on the rafters of attic spaces when it had to have been 120 degrees up there, please don't make generalizations about what agents do and don't do.
I have no interest, at all, EVER, of letting a buyer buy a house that they don't know what they are getting into.
I still have a lot to learn, don't know everything about everything but I am always open to being educated.

Dunes, I feel there is a difference between people who shouldn't be buying a house because it is not financially feasible for them (whether due to a job situation or possible relocation or whatever it may be) and people who just want a house, plan on being there relatively long term, are relatively secure in their employment and are able to comfortably afford living there.
The latter group are not necessarily looking at it as an investment these days.  They would just rather pay the bank (although I have had 2 all cash buyers) then pay a landlord.  The pros of owning a house to them, even if much of it is psychological, far outweighs the cons.

I think for a single person or even a couple, renting often makes sense.  However, for a family, this becomes more problematic because rentals of 3 bedroom units or houses is cost prohibitive and as I stated on another thread, if it is a single family home, long term leases are rarely available.

I understand what the numbers say.  I also understand that, like I stated before, as long as people can comfortably afford to own a home, this is still a desire among many.

I'm not saying if that is right or wrong.  Just that it is.  I am also not going to make judgements about people regarding the decision they make as long as they know what they can and can't afford and buy responsibly.

Its funny, I just got the mail and the cover story on the new TIME magazine is "Rethinking Homeownership.  Why owning a home may no longer make economic sense".  Should make for an interesting read although I think I've hung around non agents enough on these websites that I have already been educated as to why that may be true.  Not sure its going to tell me anything I haven't already heard.
  • August 27 2010
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Profile picture for Mills Realty
Wasn't the point of the original post that the economy isn't going to return until jobs are created?  Nothing like taking this on a tangent and running in all sorts of directions.  Is there any argument that 10% unemployment, which is probably an extremely low estimate of true unemployment, is bad?
  • August 27 2010
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The title of the post was "Why nobody wants to buy a house".

My point is that regardless of the dismal economy, and sometimes against all logic, some people still want to buy a house.

This is a discussion thread and I believe that is what is taking place.
  • August 27 2010
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Even among the top-tier economists who study this stuff for 40 hours a week and more, there is never anything approaching concensus on current or future economic behavior.  The best we can expect is a broadly accepted agreement on present and future economic behavior.  And, at time, that broad agreement is wrong.  Conclusion: no expert knows and therefore NONE OF US HERE knows what will go on in our economic future.

So, let's not any of us here pretend to own the Always Correct  Crystal Ball, for which some here like to imply exclusive ownership. 

Next, even if you don't know what it means when one says that "All real estate markets are local, and all local markets are segmented" please at least pretend you understand this concept;  analogy:  I know, a priori, I can sell a glass of icewater to a person crossing the Sahara Desert for more money, than to a person working in an icehouse alonga a river neqar Niagra Falls.  Supply and demand generally rule the market.

If you live in an area of the country where real estate is awful, and unemployment high, and future prospects are low, then that is your reality at least for the moment.

If you live in an area where real estate is good, and unemployment is low, population is growing, and future prospects are rosy, then that is your reality at least for the moment.

It can be riskier to rent than own in some areas and personal situations.  A fixed income couple may well be taking the safest path by buying and having long term known housing payments, rather than renting and being pushe dout of their housing because rents are going up.

If one owns property in Tampa, Florida, the bottom may be at hand.  The fixewd income couple from above, pushed out of their rental, may now see a 50% depreciated value house in Tampa as a safe purchase.  The markets will find themselves and self correct over the long term.  Tampa, badly beaten, may now be seen as a winner to price-sensitive buyers.

  • August 27 2010
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Profile picture for Blue Nile
The bottom is not at hand in any part of Florida yet, if you have been looking at any trends and impacts of financing and government give aways, in spite of all the agents that have been calling the bottom of pricing in Florida for 4 years straight now.
  • August 27 2010
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Profile picture for Blue Nile
Thanks Joan...

I clearly did not mean to imply "all Agents" when I stated "the agents"...

But when the national average is 21 minutes of seeing a home before buying and moving in...; those "typical" agents were what I was referring to.

Yes, I can find a "few" agents that would crawl attics and crawl spaces with me; but typically when looking at houses, neither of us are dressed for that, and have no way to remove the dirt before getting back in the car.

Home inspectors carry jump suits for that purpose.  Same with termite company representatives.
  • August 27 2010
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Profile picture for dacolan
Home sales plummet 19% in Tampa area

"We knew things were going to slow down after the tax credit," said Vernon Taylor, president of the Greater Tampa Association of Realtors. "July is historically low in Tampa for real estate, and unemployment is up. It's all working against us."

Economists worry it could get worse over the next several months because the July data still reflect some of the boost given by the credit. Those taking advantage of the tax credit have until the end of September to close deals.
...
Lafakis, from Moody's, said he expects prices to continue to decline because of increasing foreclosures. Despite the federal government's push to stop foreclosures, homeowners continue to lose their homes.

Trial mortgages have fallen by 23 percent since the peak in February, Lafakis said.

"Some of those modifications have failed," he said.

Sale prices have fallen 42 percent since they peaked in mid-2006. Moody's calls for Bay area prices to drop an additional 9.3 percent through the third quarter of 2011.
  • August 27 2010
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Pas, it was pretty funny actually to see me crawling through some nasty spaces, definitely NOT dressed for it.  Oh well, comes with the job.  I have learned that wearing heels when showing a house is really stupid so I try to be as practical as I can.
Regarding the 21 minute average, I can't speak to that particular survey but I wouldn't take it at face value (anymore than I would take a poll that states that 70% of all buyers expect their house values to rise 10% a year for the next five years seriously).  Polls and surveys all have to be considered lightly. 
If I was going to guess ( and admittedly it is a guess) I would say that a lot of buyers fall in love with a home quickly.  As I said previously, home purchases are often based on emotion, not logic.  If that is true, that people kind of KNOW that this is the house for them (before they find out about the leaky roof, bad septic and 60 year old electrical system) then I could see that 21 minute average having some validity.  I don't think they necessarily make the decision to buy in 21 minutes, as much as they think that this house is the one.
I'm not sure that made any sense but hopefully you get my meaning.
  • August 27 2010
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