Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Best Time to Buy a House or Rent an Apartment

I have been advising in the EPJ Daily Alert that this winter might be a very good time for those looking to buy a house. It might be the last time in decades that interest rates will be so low and housing prices relatively low before price inflation really takes off.

That said, winter is also a very good time, in general, to buy a house in the Northeast and Midwest.

I like to buy, and rent, when I have little competition, so, if I can arrange it, I try to do either when I am among the few bidders and where there are desperate people I am dealing with.

What do I mean?

In the Northeast, I would try buying (or renting) after a series of snowstorms where the roads and sidewalks aren't generally clear.  If a seller is offering a property under those conditions, the seller is likely desperate. I would do it after a couple of storms have blown through so that I know the seller hasn't seen many other bidders in weeks.

In Chicago, I would wait for a long cold snap with temperatures at or below zero. I once needed to rent a place for 6 months in Chi-town and did it in the middle of such a cold snap. You could see the desperation on the face of the property owner. You can get all kinds of concessions under such conditions and you should really lowball the price.

This, of course, doesn't work as well in California, but even there opportunities exist. I once rented a place in Palm Springs in August when many shops and restaurants were closed during the blistering heat of summer and the temperature was around 100 degrees. Again, I could see the desperation on the face of the property owner.

Keep in mind that these owners may be nice people and you may be helping them out of a jam by doing a deal with them at such a time. They might have mortgage payments that they can't meet because the property is empty, or unsold.

Another good time to buy in California is after a major earthquake. I am talking 8.0 on the Richter scale, at a minimum. A major earthquake above 8.0 spooks people, many want to get out of town fast--a great time to buy.

If you understand the fundamentals of a situation, it is always best to buy, whether it is property, stocks or whatever when there are few bidders around for whatever reason.

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