The challenge is how to determine when we have hit bottom if you are a purchaser. The only time you can guarantee a bottom is after you pass it.
However, there is more and more evidence that the COST of a home has in fact hit bottom. Notice we have used the word COST. Unless you are an all cash buyer, you must take into consideration the expense of financing a property to determine the true cost of purchasing the home. Interest rates have increased over the last quarter; and the rise in rates has counteracted any fall in prices.
Let’s look at an example:
Let’s say you were going to take out a $200,000 30-year-fixed-rate mortgage in November of 2010. At that time, interest rates were 4.17% (as per Freddie Mac). Your principle and interest payment would have come to $974.54. According to the most recent report from Case Shiller house prices fell 3.9% in the 4th quarter of 2010. The most recent report from the Federal Housing Finance Agency shows a 0.8% fall in prices. Let’s use the larger percentage decrease: 3.9%.
For the sake of keeping the math simple, we will now say you can get the same house with a $192,000 mortgage (4% discount from November price). Interest rates are now 4.95% (as per Freddie Mac).
Your principle and interest payment would now be $1,067.54.
By waiting to pay less for the PRICE of the house, the COST increased $93 a month. That adds up to $1,116 a year and over $33,000 over the life of the loan.
We realize that there are other things to consider (ex. the mortgage tax deduction, etc.). This example is just a simple way to show that there is a difference between COST and PRICE.