The local real estate market is an enigma to me right now. Transaction levels have fallen from record breaking (over 100 per quarter better than 2008) to merely good (around 85 per quarter, slightly better than last year). While this has been happening, prices have been making a slight push with a median of around $240,000 breaking the $225,000 barrier around which we've been hovering since late 2007. Interest rates are still fantastic and getting better, so that looks good. However, it is very difficult to predict what will happen in our local market over the rest of the year.
"How are things looking in the near term?" Well wouldn't we all like to know? The future is a funny thing. It hasn't happened yet and there are an infinite number of variables affecting how it will turn out. Because of this infinite amount of possibilities and inputs it is impossible to accurately predict an outcome. Anyone who reads the business pages consistently can clearly see this taking place.
I always get a kick out of surveys of economists from major banks and investment houses trying to predict the rate at which GDP of major nations will grow or shrink in the next quarter or year. It basically translates like this:
"There is no way for us to make any accurate predictions about anything, but we need to write about something, so we're going to ask a bunch of guys and girls who use really long equations to try to predict the future. They also get paid a lot, so they must know something. We're going to ask these guys and girls what they think (raise your hand if you think 'up.' Now raise your hand if you think 'down') then we'll count the votes and tell you that that is how we figure the future will unfold."
This is only kind of exaggerated. Articles like this are published in the business media on a daily basis. Then the headline screams "GDP expected to grow at an annualized rate of 2.4 per cent over the next quarter." The next thing I know, everyone is telling me how great the economy is expected to be over the next year. I love the way news travels. What was originally a survey of guys and girls making guesses becomes a fact in a very short period of time.
So what do you do if you are trying to decide what to do about your real estate? What if you are wondering if now is the right time to buy or the right time to sell? How can you gauge which direction is the market heading?
You do this by doing the following. First clearly define what your goals are. Your motivation for buying or selling will determine your strategy. You also need to determine what your bottom (sellers) or top (buyers) line is. Then you start to gather information.
As I've pointed out, not all information is useful. In fact, most of it is not. Check your source, make sure that it is as current as possible and make sure that the information applies directly to your market. For example, an article from the Vancouver Sun about what is happening in the lower mainland means virtually nothing to this market. Second, always check the source. Some writers are better than others and some publications are better than others. If you do the right amount of research, you will start to know the difference.
Of course, if all this information gathering and interpreting sounds like an awful lot of work, hire a capable Realtor who you trust and who you can work with. The Realtor that you choose to work with will look out for your best interests and will know where to get the most current and the highest quality information available. This will put you in the strongest positions to make the right decisions about your real estate.
Kevin Kurjata is a Dawson Creek Real Estate Specialist with Remax Dawson Creek Realty. Go to www.kevink.ca/dawsoncreekmarketpeek.php for detailed information on the Dawson Creek real estate market. He can be reached at 250.719.3538 or by email at email@example.com. He is currently accepting new clients.