Posted by: Timothy Ellis (The Tim)

Tim Ellis is the founder of Seattle Bubble. His background in engineering and computer / internet technology, a fondness of data-based analysis of problems, and an addiction to spreadsheets all influence his perspective on the Seattle-area real estate market.

58 responses to “There is no such thing as “a great time to buy.””

  1. goldbach

    Doesn’t “Tolerance for risk” also fall under the second category? I would think my tolerance for risk would be less relevant if there is little to no risk of a price decline (which is what most people would consider a “good time to buy”).

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  2. stef

    My husband and I bought a house in February after looking for more than a year and despairing many times that we’d never find something reasonably priced that was close to work. We had a good down payment (20%+) saved up and just didn’t want to throw it away on some craptastic place that wasn’t an improvement over our current rental townhouse. Well, we found something great, less than we were expecting to pay, and within walking distance to work. Not as walkable as our old neighborhood, but frankly I’m going to work 5 days a week, and we were walking to restaurants and stuff MAYBE 1-2 times every week. So I think this is a better situation. We’re paying less for our mortgage payment than we were for rent (including taxes and insurance!). It’s smaller than what we were planning on, but the house was just so unique and great that we’re totally OK with that. 2 months of living there and I am completely happy. It was a great time for us to buy.

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  3. Wirk

    My wife and I decided it was “our time” to buy our first home this winter. The main reason we began looking was that we are about to start a family and want a place to settle down, remodel, paint and design. We lived in a small rented one bedroom condo for the first 2 ½ years of our marriage and with two incomes we paid off our debt and saved a significant chunk of change to purchase a home, furniture and have adequate savings left over. Our risk tolerance for a decline in home values was fairly high since we planned on living in the home we bought for as many years as possible.

    We ended up finding a short-sale property in Bothell that sold for about $500k in 2007 that we got for $340k. The home is a 2007 Harbor Home build and has 5 bedrooms so we have plenty of room to grow a family over the years. We were also able to find a property with a large yard in a new neighborhood which solidified our desire to move forward. On a side note, the short sale process was stressful and drawn out, but bearable.

    Based on what we saw over the past few months, the inventory of quality homes at fair prices is pretty thin. The disparity of price between owner occupied homes and bank owned or short-sale homes was vast. We looked at a mix of both and probably saw 30-40 homes total. Of the 40, there was only a handful that we perceived as a value (Priced 10%+ below recent comparables, built within last decade, large lot with big yard, desirable neighborhood, close to 405, friends, family, and church community).

    Our “value” list might seem excessive, but our thought was that there was no reason we should make a significant compromise since we didn’t have a time crunch and were renting month-to-month.

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  4. softwarengineer

    A Very Neutral and Pragmatic Take Tim

    Whether it be home ownership or buying anything, like even an automobile…..the rules are somewhat the same. If its a bag of cash to buy and you have another for emergencies too; Hades, the time could be anytime [no one said all sound financial decisions need to be investment winners, with that restriction, IMO, we'd buy nothing unti the earth depopulated....LOL].

    A caveat, about 20% of WORKING Americans are now borrowing money from retirement to pay emergency expenses….that is a very unsound financial decision, especially considerring you can keep your retirements even if you default on your home loan.

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  5. D. in Ballard

    I think very soon I’m going to have a post indicating that I’ve bought. We’re just ironing out the final details right now.

    Many of the homes we’ve looked at over the three plus years I’ve been searching were bought at the same time we purchased our condo in 2003. Often I see the price the seller paid and wonder how they got such a great deal when I bought a condo because I couldn’t find a house that I liked. I think there is always the chance for a sporadic deal in any market. You just have to be in the right place at the right time. And you have to be patient. I wasn’t patient. I bought a condo instead.

    Right now is the right time to buy because I found a house that I like at a price a like in a location that I like. Some say prices haven’t fallen that much in the neighborhoods I’m looking at. Not true. If this house that I’m going to buy were for sale back in 2008 at this price, I would have bought it in a heartbeat. Well-priced homes sell. That doesn’t mean prices are not down.

    And I am ultra-picky. How can you buy at the bottom if you’re inflexible as to the type of house you want to live in? I’m going with my gut after searching for three plus years that the houses I like tend to sell pretty well. I don’t think prices are going to dip enough that I’ll regret my purchase. And now is a good time for me in my personal life. I’ve got to get on waiting lists for pre-schools. It’s a good idea to know where I’m going to be for the next several years.

    I’m superstitious, so I’m ending with a knock, knock……

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  6. NbyNW206

    My girlfriend and I are about a week away from closing on our first house (which is actually a condo). Here are the things we factored into our equation.

    - Trial run
    We currently live in the condo right next door. As in we are renting unit 304 and purchasing unit 303. We lived in the building for one year, got to know the neighbors, went to the HOA meetings, expierienced all the seasons etc. About 3/4 way through our lease the condo next to us went into foreclosure and we started thinking about whether it was the right place for us. We believe that it is, based on the trial run.

    -Location
    The condo is in Capitol Hill. We are both in our mid-twenties, with no plans to start a family until our mid-30′s. The condo is centrally located and will be about 3 blocks from the Light Rail station when it opens in 2016.

    -Size
    The unit we rented was an 850 sf one bedroom. The unit we are purchasing is an 1,100 sf 2 bedroom, so if economic conditions forced it upon us, we could start our family there if necesssary.

    -Employment
    We are both employed at Boeing and feel confident in our positions. The Company looks to be on an upswing in the next few years as we deliver our new airplanes and begin work on the Air Force tanker.

    -Price and Interest Rates
    I believe that all other things static, this is what made us feel confident in our decision. Prices are actually in a reasonable range (for Seattle I suppose) and interest rates are low. This combination allowed us to get into a right-sized condo in an awesome location for a monthly payment we could afford. The bottom line…would we pay X to live here for the next 30 years if worse came to worse came to worst. The answer was yes.

    I know many of the people who post on this blog (which I read regularly, but have yet to comment) say that the real estate boom is over, renting is cheaper, so on and so forth. Well, that may be true, but if you’re buying a property that you believe has good resale value, with a solid plan for life trajectory, then I still think buying can be a sound investment.

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  7. Greg

    I’m going to respond to your interesting take from a slightly different perspective -Because real estate is such a highly leveraged investment, the market is not as efficient on the way down. I’m sitting here in Portland and I’ve been “trying” to buy (but at a “fair” price), but there is simply not much in the way of inventory… and a lot of what is out there is still ridiculously priced. On the surface it appears that there are a lot of idiots out there who think it’s still 2007, but the reality is that they are likely over-leveraged. At the same time I constantly talk to people who want to get out of their houses (and downsize), but they “can’t right now”, so they don’t.

    Frustrating, but I’m sure those shills at NAR (and some of the sneering agents for new homes I’ve run into) are smiling.

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  8. Anonymous Coward

    By NbyNW206 @ 7:

    My girlfriend [emph. added] and I are about a week away from closing on our first house (which is actually a condo).

    Umm… I think we may have overlooked something in our list of determining whether or not now is a personally acceptable time to buy.

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  9. NewHomeOwnerInFremont

    I bought because of the following reasons:
    - Having 20% down
    - Interest rates being under 5%
    - No debt
    - Can see myself being in the area for at least 7 to 10 years
    - Tired of dealing with landlords telling what you can do, having to be careful of your noise pollution and dealing with others’ noise pollution levels
    And most importantly,
    - Rental rates for 1 bedroom apartments are now averaging near $1000/month and are showing no signs of leveling out in the areas that interest me. This is absent of what they charge you to park your car in the garage.
    I knew I wanted a house and not be in a condo (sorry, I hate HOA dues) or be stuck in a townhouse (might as well rent if I am going to be right next to someone)

    - Like Tim said, it was a right time for me to buy.

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  10. Drone

    RE: D. in Ballard @ 5 – I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being ultra-picky, as long as you recognize the cost (time or $) that goes along with that choice. I consider myself to be in a similar situation. I just can’t justify spending tons of cash on a property that doesn’t truly fit my needs. Maybe someday those crap houses will be cheaper, or maybe I’ll have more income for a remodel, but until then I wait.

    Side note: nobody ever said that waiting was easy. So if anyone out there is waiting and feeling frustrated, that’s because you’re normal.

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  11. jeanette

    my husband & i closed on a house last june – our previous landlords decided to put the condo we had been renting on the market last march. we were engaged at the time and ready to be settled in a house instead of condo/apartment, for a variety of reasons. we also wanted to stay near downtown (and houses can be expensive to rent near downtown) – so we got ourselves prequalified and looked for something we could easily afford within a 6-8 mile radius of downtown. we found a beautiful just-remodeled & fully updated house with a lower monthly mortgage payment than our rental condo payment. we only found it because it dropped $40k after the tax credit expired at the end of april and it fell into our price range. we didn’t get the $8k tax credit, but we got the house for another $10k below the list price, so a total of $50k less than what it was listed for before the tax credit expired. we did not (and still don’t) feel that we overpaid for it. the woman who owned it also owned several other properties in the neighborhood, a couple of which were headed toward foreclosure (and a couple others are still on the market, i believe). she was a motivated seller, we were motivated buyers, and we closed in 3 weeks (using FHA financing, even!). we’re coming up on a year living there and couldn’t be happier. the only unexpected maintenance expense we’ve had so far is a clogged main sewer line.

    so yes – it was definitely the right time to buy for us.

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  12. Condoseeker

    We bought in March a downtown condo that was about 15X our rental payment (before our rent was to go up 10%). We ended up with a nicer place than we rented, 200 more sq. ft, better layout, decent view, 2 parking spots, dog friendly, downtown, etc.

    With a 3.8% 15 year mortgage, we’ll have it entirely paid off before retirement. It might not be the best investment comparatively speaking, but we don’t think it will decrease substantially. Not having to deal with real estate every year is a big plus.

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  13. cutienoua

    I don’t plan on buying for at least 4 more years.
    Not in Seattle area. But I enjoy your site a lot!

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  14. Scotsman

    Based on the responses above apparently last fall and early this winter were great times to buy. And I hear you can get a screaming deal on a condo right now. The new bottom is in.

    Feed a realtor- buy a condo!

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  15. jimmythev

    My Wife and I want to start a family and have been looking since Dec and have been really disappointed with the lack of good inventory on the market. We finally found a short sale we were interested in last month. We set up a showing with our agent, walked into the house (that was only 2 years old) and were shocked at the condition. Nice hardwood floors were destroyed and needed to be completely refinished (it looks like they were playing with the dogs inside). The carpets had black stains (looked like grease) all over them, and the walls had stains and some “dents” in them. The kitchen, looked like it was in good shape till I tried to open one of the cabinets and it almost fell off. Oh, and the smell… it was something else. Keep in mind, this house is only 2 years old! The occupents are still living there. So we put an offer in @ 15% below what the current asking price (most of the fixing is cosmetic), and the sellers agent wouldn’t even present it to the bank! So we waited… 1 month later, and 60 days on the market, and the house hasn’t had an offer.

    So am I missing something here… why wouldn’t a sellers agent take the only offer they’ve gotten in 2 months and present it to the bank based on the condition of the house? It may be/not be the “right time to buy” but I’m finding it very frustrating to try and “buy”

    I should mention, we’re both employed, 20% down, and pre-aproved…

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  16. Happy Buyer

    The time was right for us. We purchased our first home this last winter in the Mt. Baker neighborhood of Seattle and have been very happy with the decision. Our mortgage is $500 a month more than our previous nearby rental, and we have twice the square footage and are much closer to Lake Washington (5 minute walk).

    We’re locked in for 30 years at 4.875% and have more than enough bedrooms to accommodate for the kids that my spouse and I plan on having. The down payment was provided mostly from gains in the stock market (for those of you not keeping track, the S&P 500 is up almost 100% from the low in March 09). We were buying stock when everyone else was running scared in early 2009 and we made out very well. And now everyone is scared to buy a house…..

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  17. Scotsman

    RE: Happy Buyer @ 17

    “And now everyone is scared to buy a house…..”

    I’m sure homes will more than double over the next 3 years as the Fed pulls liquidity from the equities market and pumps it into housing. Unless they plan to pump it into cheap treasuries purchased from the Chinese.

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  18. ray pepper

    I think its great that all of you bought and still check in here. The Bubbleheads are GROWING in numbers and are ALWAYS the most educated Buyers. Great work Tim keeping this site together even after the New Employment at Red Fin. Its also great to see everyone here is so happy with their purchase.

    One comment: “why wouldn’t a sellers agent take the only offer they’ve gotten in 2 months and present it to the bank based on the condition of the house”

    What did your Agent tell you? As with any seller specific instructions can be given to the listing Agent that is hired. Could it be that your offer was too low?

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  19. Blake

    Nice post Tim… excellent point about individual level factors and considerations.
    People like to think about economics being a hard science, but it is really a social science based upon individuals and subjective judgements. “Opportunity cost” is really hard to measure but perhaps one of the most important elements of market theory.
    “What’s this house/property worth to me…” vs. ???
    …it’s a choice

    (But it’s totally different if people are thinking about it as an investment… we can only hope that the last few years may disabuse people of that notion and remove the speculators!)

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  20. Ross

    By The Tim @ 6:

    By goldbach @ 1:
    I would think my tolerance for risk would be less relevant if there is little to no risk of a price decline (which is what most people would consider a “good time to buy”).

    There’s always some risk of a price decline, unless you get a house for free.

    I think some banks had to pay people to take away certain foreclosures in detroit… so free still doesn’t mean no financial risk.

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  21. Mikal

    RE: Scotsman @ 18 – Maybe now is a good time to put that dump you make your mother live in on the market.

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  22. David Losh

    So, it is true, that it is always a good time to buy Real Estate!

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  23. Urban Artist

    Our situation is not absolutely perfect to buy but it is close enough. So we are going to start seriously looking towards the end of summer. I am disappointed at the selection out there but we are not in a total rush. I have kids and renting was okay for awhile but we are so done with renting. I trust that the right house will be there.

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  24. Scotsman

    RE: Mikal @ 22

    If you’ve got a couple extra $million laying around she’d probably sell it to you. It’d be a nice step up from White Center. Be sure to set something aside for the obligatory new boat.

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  25. Jonness

    There is never “a great time to buy.” There is only “your time to buy.”

    Admit it. That saying originally came out of the lips of a beautiful female redfin sales agent last week at your lunch table. Next time you see her, ask her how far underwater she is on the house she purchased in 2007.

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  26. Ira Sacharoff

    From a barber’s perspective, it’s always a good time to get a haircut, From a real estate agent’s perspective, it’s always a good time to buy a house.
    For me, it was obvious five years ago that local home prices were seriously overpriced. Still, there were a lot of homes for sale, and if you had the money and a very long term perspective, you could buy a home and be happy in it.
    Now, it’s less obvious to me as to what the housing market is going to do. I think it’s going to be flat to slightly down for the next couple of years, but I don’t really know. I do know that there’s a lot of garbage on the market right now. I’ve discouraged people from buying houses in the past( great sales technique, huh?) because prices were almost guaranteed to fall.
    But there’s something very satisfying to a lot of people about owning a house, and not everything worth doing is strictly a financial decision.

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  27. Jonness

    By Scotsman @ 25:

    If you’ve got a couple extra $million laying around she’d probably sell it to you. It’d be a nice step up from White Center. Be sure to set something aside for the obligatory new boat.

    The problem with buying a couple $million house is when the price goes down 20%, you lose your shorts. OTOH, if you buy a house for $400K, you probably don’t have to worry as much. My girlfriend and I keep jumping back and forth between buying a cheaper (safer) house and the house we really want (with an outrageous beach but nowhere near a couple $million). It’s not an easy decision to make in a strange economy such as ours. In fact, it’s downright scary.

    If we get runaway inflation, perhaps it’ll be everyone’s time to buy as RE tends to inflate during such times. But then again, there’s reality coming on April 28th in the form of an expected anemic Q1 GDP growth report. And if the growth is this bad during a time of unprecedented economic stimulus, what’s going to happen when the sugar high evaporates? Also on the horizon is tomorrow’s Case-Shiller report. It’s shaping up to be an extremely fun week for housing bears like you and I. And from the looks of things around here lately, we are becoming somewhat of a dying breed. So perhaps we get our last hurrah before the next massive housing bubble begins and pfffft makes $millions on his bets. Then again, I tend to prefer reality over realty. :)

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  28. Macro Investor

    I smell a sellout. I hope a lot of money was involved.

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  29. Macro Investor

    By Jonness @ 28:

    By Scotsman @ 25:
    If you’ve got a couple extra $million laying around she’d probably sell it to you. It’d be a nice step up from White Center. Be sure to set something aside for the obligatory new boat.

    The problem with buying a couple $million house is when the price goes down 20%, you lose your shorts. OTOH, if you buy a house for $400K, you probably don’t have to worry as much. My girlfriend and I keep jumping back and forth between buying a cheaper (safer) house and the house we really want (with an outrageous beach but nowhere near a couple $million). It’s not an easy decision to make in a strange economy such as ours. In fact, it’s downright scary.

    If we get runaway inflation, perhaps it’ll be everyone’s time to buy as RE tends to inflate during such times. But then again, there’s reality coming on April 28th in the form of an expected anemic Q1 GDP growth report. And if the growth is this bad during a time of unprecedented economic stimulus, what’s going to happen when the sugar high evaporates? Also on the horizon is tomorrow’s Case-Shiller report. It’s shaping up to be an extremely fun week for housing bears like you and I. And from the looks of things around here lately, we are becoming somewhat of a dying breed. So perhaps we get our last hurrah before the next massive housing bubble begins and pfffft makes $millions on his bets. Then again, I tend to prefer reality over realty. :)

    These comments are exactly what we saw in ’07. Yeah, I know it’s a really bad time to buy, but heck I JUST WANT IT NOW. Yeah, I know the SUV/iPad/boat are stupid buys, but I JUST WANT IT NOW. Yeah, I know watching 50 hours of TV and eating sugar are bad for me, but I JUST WANT IT NOW. lol…

    If the macro environment is even half as risky as the regulars here constantly point out, in 4 years all these buyers will be back crying about how they were scooged. And saying “where’s my bailout”?

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  30. Scotsman

    RE: Macro Investor @ 29RE: Jonness @ 26 -

    Do you envision something like this:

    “Tim- you know it’ll go up soon enough. Now’s the time, if it’s right for you”

    http://www.solarnavigator.net/films_movies_actors/actors_films_images/michelle_pfeiffer_red_hair.jpg

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  31. Anonymous Coward

    By Jonness @ 28:

    My girlfriend and I

    Are you really sure now is an acceptable time for you to buy? Have you thought through all of the possible scenarios involving owning real estate with a girlfriend?

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  32. Mikal

    RE: Scotsman @ 25 – At that price it is stale before you even put it on the market. More delusions.

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  33. Mikal

    RE: Mikal @ 35 – Oh spelling Nazi, if you are so smart, why didn’t you list it in early 2007?

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  34. David Losh

    RE: The Tim @ 34

    Because it is always a great time to buy Real Estate, if you buy well. Your premise is the same as if saying that payments are low, due to low interest rates, so it may be a good time to buy if those payments fit into your budget.

    However, Real Estate is an investment. Buying a home is a part of people’s portfolio. Broad statements about what amounts to, if it feels right then you should proceed, is sales talk.

    From the amount of information out there about the investment aspects of buying a home this is one of the worst decisions a family can make. There are good deals in the market today, just very, very few. Most “deals” are on properties most people don’t want.

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  35. ray pepper

    RE: The Tim @ 34
    Tim, ask Glenn about his purchase in 2010. Ugggh..Per Zillow he is already upside down nearly 300k. He should spend more time reading Bubble!

    Bears are good!

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  36. Scotsman

    RE: Mikal @ 36

    Because it’s not my house to list?

    Are you pfft’s brother? I see a similar pattern of behavior.

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  37. The Desponder

    By Troy @ 33:

    I’m not sure one can say whether it was the right time until 3, maybe even 5 or 10, years have passed. Did you enjoy the place and really use it? Was the commute tolerable? Did it feel like a good value after living there? Were you happy with the neighborhood? Was the mortgage ever a stretch to service? Did you turn down job offers because you couldn’t leave? Was maintenance what you expected?

    At purchase time it seems like the right time.. for everyone. These questions decide whether it really was, and none of them can be answered for at least a few years after buying.

    Yep. This is the trick. My wife and I had a plan that turned out to be useless: 1) Purchase a 1 Br condo in 2008 with 20%+ down. 2) In 2012 complete my Ph.D., sell the condo and move to a more spacious home and begin a family.

    I am on pace to complete the Ph. D., but now we will be lucky to be out by 2015. We will begin a family in less than ideal conditions – though not bad, by any means. It wasn’t until the market corrected that we realized 2008 was a terrible time to buy. It takes hindsight to determine the appropriateness of the timing, which makes a long-term, highly-leveraged investment like a home purchase a crap-shoot. I don’t think it will be a great time to by for me, all things being equal, until I have something like 50% down or more and the ability to handle a 15-year mortgage and a long-term commitment to a particular location. The more transient society becomes, the less wise it is to carry a mortgage without significant wiggle-room built in.

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  38. Scotsman

    I’ve said for some time home ownership would become a luxury only the wealthy could afford. Wait until the property taxes on the “rich” get pumped up to support failing public pensions, crumbling infrastructure, etc. And who else will be able to absorb the ongoing capital depreciation? Will tax liens mean the cities become landlords for the masses as the resale market ceases to exist?

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  39. Civil Servant

    What’s wrong with buying real estate with one’s boyfriend or girlfriend, my dudes? The words don’t necessarily imply unseriousness or lack of commitment. Some committed heterosexuals (hi) are not interested in getting married and perfectly willing to work with a lawyer to hammer out fair contracts related to the house and its care and finance. Some people with committed boyfriends and girlfriends are not heterosexuals hence cannot get married in Washington State.

    I can also be on topic: I suspect my BOYFRIEND and I will start looking to buy, desultorily but with a willingness to be surprised, this coming fall. Whenever we do buy, prices may yet come down, but we’ll have been able to swing a down payment in excess of 20% and a 15-year mortgage, the latter long our goal. We’ll be able to maintain a large emergency reserve, and we both have stable, enjoyable jobs and intend to stay in the area indefinitely. I am weary of renting; I want to build custom shelving and put up wallpaper, and said boyfriend wants to garden and experiment with graywater systems and solar energy. We would both like to enjoy the rewards of our industriousness, caution, and research over the last several years. For me anyway, there will come a time when the perfect becomes the enemy of the good.

    Of course, my current sentiment is subject to change (as is, I know, my current evaluation of our collective job security, etc.). The nice part is that as long as we’re renting, we have options.

    Desponder, congrats on your soon-to-be Ph.D.!

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  40. David Losh

    RE: The Desponder @ 40

    I forgot to add that in your situation you have already taken a leveraged position. At some point your loan will amortize quickly. That is the point some investors make about having a renter pay for the mortgage.

    There are strategies for you. There are a lot of strategies in Real Estate. You may have to do some averaging by making a better “deal” on the next purchase. Look forward. You have the experience now to be cautious.

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  41. Heath

    Closed on a lovely Federal Way foreclosure at the end of March. Married with kids, secure position in ultra-secure firm in fairly-secure industry, with opportunities for promotion. Price was right, needed the room, had been paying down debt and saving for a down payment systematically since 2005. Our price range in 2007 was burnt-out crack houses; much better selection now! Everyone else’s misfortune redounded to our benefit. We searched diligently since June 2010 for the perfect place which fit all our needs – commuting, space, sound structure, privacy, price, potential for growth and remodeling. Took patience but it paid off and we were lucky enough to have the luxury to keep saving and watching. Found a place that far exceeded our expectations and closed the short sale in ~one month. Had the best realtor in King County

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  42. Barry

    After selling our first house in August 2009 for slightly more than we paid in March 2004, we rented for a year and bought again in December 2010. It was the right time for us because our son will be entering kindergarten this year and we wanted stability. We have 2 incomes and plenty of savings. But, having said that, the market was telling us to buy as well. We paid 30% less than the house was originally listed for, and locked in a really good fixed rate. Sure, the market has continued to suffer since December, but I’m planning to stay in the house for 15 years, so none of the near-term variation really matters.

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  43. Mikal

    RE: Scotsman @ 39 – Are you Bush’s brother? Lets cut taxes and fight two wars. For dumb.

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  44. Scotsman

    RE: Mikal @ 44

    Why? We’ve got a better deal now- cut taxes and fight THREE wars while totally tanking the economy! BHO makes Bush look like an amateur.

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  45. Mikal

    All the presidents make Bush look like an amateur.

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  46. Ira Sacharoff

    By Civil Servant @ 42:

    What’s wrong with buying real estate with one’s boyfriend or girlfriend, my dudes? The words don’t necessarily imply unseriousness or lack of commitment. Some committed heterosexuals (hi) are not interested in getting married and perfectly willing to work with a lawyer to hammer out fair contracts related to the house and its care and finance. Some people with committed boyfriends and girlfriends are not heterosexuals hence cannot get married in Washington State.

    I can also be on topic: I suspect my BOYFRIEND and I will start looking to buy, desultorily but with a willingness to be surprised, this coming fall. Whenever we do buy, prices may yet come down, but we’ll have been able to swing a down payment in excess of 20% and a 15-year mortgage, the latter long our goal. We’ll be able to maintain a large emergency reserve, and we both have stable, enjoyable jobs and intend to stay in the area indefinitely. I am weary of renting; I want to build custom shelving and put up wallpaper, and said boyfriend wants to garden and experiment with graywater systems and solar energy. We would both like to enjoy the rewards of our industriousness, caution, and research over the last several years. For me anyway, there will come a time when the perfect becomes the enemy of the good.

    Of course, my current sentiment is subject to change (as is, I know, my current evaluation of our collective job security, etc.). The nice part is that as long as we’re renting, we have options.

    Desponder, congrats on your soon-to-be Ph.D.!

    What’s wrong with buying property with one’s boyfriend or girlfriend?
    Nothing. People do it all the time. My wife and I bought out first house together before we were married, and stayed unmarried for many years after that. I was the buyer’s agent in a recent house deal in which the buyers were an unmarried couple. It’s just not a big deal.
    Sure, if an unmarried couple breaks up, dividing the assets could become problematic. And you know what? When a married couple breaks up, dividing the assets could become problematic.

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  47. Jonness

    By Scotsman @ 31:

    RE: Macro Investor @ 29RE: Jonness @ 26 -

    Do you envision something like this:

    “Tim- you know it’ll go up soon enough. Now’s the time, if it’s right for you”

    http://www.solarnavigator.net/films_movies_actors/actors_films_images/michelle_pfeiffer_red_hair.jpg

    Easy Scotsman. I’m getting lots of pressure from my girlfriend to jump the fence and buy. In addition went to a party last Saturday, and a good friend said it was high time I stop waiting and buy a house because prices weren’t going to go any lower. Of course, I reminded her she told me the same thing in 2007, and that was several hundred thousands of dollars ago. She got kind of quiet after that. Hey, if she looked like Michelle Pfeiffer, I might have bought a house from her though. But she didn’t, so it looks like I’ll probably have to wait another year or two. :)

    And that makes me wonder, what ever happened to that Realtor friend of Kary’s who bought in Phoenix at the bubble peak and said it was a great time to buy and he didn’t care if the price went down because he loved the house. Supposedly, a house is not an investment; it’s a place to live. Of course, that market has lost 55% since he bought the house… :)

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  48. Jonness

    By Anonymous Coward @ 32:

    Have you thought through all of the possible scenarios involving owning real estate with a girlfriend?

    No. But I’ve thought through the possible scenarios of owning real estate with my girlfriend. Hopefully we don’t decide to part ways, because I’d have to work too hard twisting her arm to take her money. I’d assume not break a sweat over such matters. :)

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  49. Jonness

    By The Tim @ 34:

    I get the feeling that some of you consider any position other than “it’s never a good time to buy—for anyone” to be “selling out.”

    Sorry Tim. I was just having a good time at your expense and hoping you wouldn’t take it too personally. I go out on weekends and lust over houses same as you. But at the same time, I generally agree with what David Losh said in post 37. Like it or not, houses are financial investments and typically represent a sizable portion of one’s portfolio. Therefore, they should buy wisely as opposed to simply making an emotional decision such as, “This is my time. Too heck with fundamentals.” IMO, the fundamentals are currently not favorable but YMMV. :)

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  50. double dutch

    After waiting for years for the Portland market to go down, my boyfriend (of 14 years) and I just bought a foreclosure for super cheap–$138k. While it’s true that most of the low end is pretty grungy, this house was in pretty good shape and it’s in a nice neighborhood. I’ve been reading this blog and the Portland Housing blog for the last 14 months, and, while it’s put the fear of god in me, it’s also been incredibly educational and given me a broader understanding of economics. I will probably continue to be freaked out about things like stagflation and the possibility of house prices dropping another 20%, but I also want to move on with my life and grow tomatoes and finally be able to get a cat and paint the walls whatever color I want. I embark on this choice with open eyes, thanks in part to your blog.

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  51. Michael B

    “There is never “a great time to buy.” There is only “your time to buy.”

    I believe this is a Haiku? Such Beautiful words. Kinda puts it all in perspective.

    This blog should be renamed the SeattleBottom.

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  52. Michael B

    “There is never “a great time to buy.” There is only “your time to buy.”

    I believe this is a Haiku? Such Beautiful words. Kinda puts it all in perspective.

    This blog should be renamed the SeattleBottom.

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  53. m-s

    Yay, haiku contest!

    “A great time to buy!”
    “Sorry bud, it never is;
    just – YOUR time to buy”

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  54. Leanne

    We weren’t even looking to buy yet, but accidently stumbled across something close to my dream property at a great price (foreclosure). We had the cash, and then some, so I we went ahead and got it. Plan stay for 10-12 years +.

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  55. Seattle Bubble • The Tim’s Top Ten of Twenty-Eleven

    [...] There is no such thing as “a great time to buy.” – “If home prices are at rock-bottom, interest rates are at one percent, the economy is booming, is it a great time to buy? Not if you’ve got a hundred thousand dollars of school debt and you’re working part-time at the Sizzler, it isn’t!” [...]

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