One of the most memorable lines in the movie "Wall Street" comes from Gordon Gekko, and it goes something (exactly) like this: "The most valuable commodity I know of is information, wouldn't you agree?"
It's a great line from a great movie, but more importantly, it's the absolute truth. I could write page after page citing examples throughout history to back up this assertion, but my blog is about real estate, not history, so let's just go with the premise that it's the truth.
Right now, there is a lot of conflicting data circulating out there about the state of the real estate market. Average sales prices rise and then they dip. Mortgage interest rates climb and then they retreat. Buyer demand peaks and then it wanes. Housing starts skyrocket and then they plateau. So what is a buyer or seller to make of this market and all of the information swirling around out there?
First of all, buyers and sellers need to block out all of the noise and focus on getting the information that is most important to them. If you are a buyer, what you want to know (as it relates to the dollars) is whether you will recoup your purchase price (and hopefully make money) when you go to sell your home. If you are a seller, what you want to know (again, as it relates to the dollars) is whether you got top dollar for your home at the point in time in which you decided to sell.
However, before you can even get to those questions, a very basic question has to be answered first: Is now a good time to buy or sell a home?
While sales comps, housing starts and interest rates do factor into the advice I give my clients, there is one market indicator that I have relied upon for the last twenty-five years to help predict where housing is headed in general. It's the manufactured housing (aka mobile home) industry. Why? Because manufactured housing buyers and sellers are more sensitive to shifts in the market (i.e. tightening credit, rising prices, increases in unemployment, etc.) than just about any other buyer or seller. They are the proverbial canaries in the coal mine - they feel the changes in our economy much faster and stronger than buyers or sellers of single-family housing do and react more quickly and drastically to any ups or downs in the economy.
There are several indices tied to the manufactured housing industry that I track, and they all show consistent, significant growth in shipments of manufactured housing and increases in average sales prices, in some cases double-digit growth, over the last twelve months and more importantly, over the last ninety days. What does that tell me? It tells me that, despite all of the fluctuations in the single-family housing market, now is a good time to buy or sell a home.
Average sales prices are still strong, interest rates are still historically low and housing inventory is still relatively tight. Any of these factors can change significantly at any time, and when they do, they will affect buyers and sellers negatively. Interest rates shoot up - buyers instantly lose purchasing power. Inventory loosens up, and sellers' average sales price decreases and their days on market increases.
But right now, these factors on the whole are holding steady, The data confirms that buyers and sellers of manufactured housing know this and aren't choosing to sit on the sidelines. Instead, they are gettin' after it. And if there's one thing I've learned after twenty-five years in this business, it's that you gotta get while the gettin' is good.
**Chris Camperelli is the Team Leader for Elite Realty Pros Powered by eXp Realty. If you have any questions about the state of the housing market today or are interested in selling or buying a home, you can reach him at [email protected] or at 317-710-5019.**