Wednesday, April 22, 2009

When to buy...if at all?

Everyone has their own reasons and timing to buy or not.

However if you were a potential buyer and didn't have to worry about moving during the middle of a school year or other issues...when is the best time to buy?

Spring..when there is more inventory, Summer...when sellers are getting more anxious..or Fall when only the desperate are left on the market and buyers have withdrawn for the year?

Tough one.

I had coffee with a seasoned RE investor today and asked him what he suggested. "Wait until after the Olympics. Any time after that should work". Was what he said.

Like me he thinks the Olympics was an unnecessary waste of time and effort. Vancouver never needed to be 'put on the map'. All it did was add kerosene to the speculative fire.

Just imagine how many bubbles we had running concurrently in our city..

1) We had the world wide real estate bubble, pumped up by low interest rates and lax lending.

2) We had the commodity bubble with copper, oil, zinc, natural gas and odd stuff like molybdenum hitting the stratosphere. The result was the venture exchange went flying and money poured into Vancouver penny stocks enriching their promoters.

3) We had the huge build out for the Olympics, competing for labour with condo builders.

And now all these bubbles are popping sequentially. There is every reason to believe that the Olympics will be an excellent and colourful spectacle, which will make us very proud to be Canadian and Vancouverites (BC-ites really, since the whole Province is going to be paying for this) and then leave us with a very big hang-over and a bill which we cannot afford.

So his advice to me was wait until all the fanfare and excitement has passed and there is nothing left to prop up RE.

What about interest rates? I asked him.

"If the market gets worried about inflation, then 5 year fixed rates could start heading up. That will certainly weaken the market further. However, one year variable mortgages (which is more closely related to the BOC rate) should remain low for a long time."

He could be wrong of course, we could have hoards of Finns and Swedes coming over after the big O to snap up our RE. Or we could be in the middle of a big inflationary boom this time next year, which would send up both long and short mortgage rates.

It works for me though, since I just signed a lease to take me past the Olympics.