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Waiting for the right time to buy

Lynn Millner

TEXT OF COMMENTARY

Bob Moon: So as we mentioned at the top, the government is hoping it's helped the mortgage industry dodge a bullet with those moves to shore up confidence in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

That would be reassuring news for would-be homebuyers who need to have their mortgages funded somewhere, but it does nothing for your own personal dilemma in deciding when to buy. Should you act now and risk that the market may not have bottomed out or should you wait and risk missing out on lower home prices?

As commentator Lyn Millner explains, trying to answer that question is an endless source of anxiety.


Lyn Millner: My husband and I have been trying to decide whether to buy a house right now. We second guess ourselves a lot, so we asked our friends:

Woman: Yeah. Prices are coming down really fast; you have to buy now!

Easy for them to say. A house is a lot of money and the market has done a nose dive and it may not be done diving. Where we live, in Florida, things are pretty...

Jesse: Babe, you can't say that on the radio.

It's true! That's my husband. Jesse. He's very cautious, and for good reason. Several weeks ago -- remember? -- we were walking Sam the dog.

Jesse: Yeah. I remember.

The three of us walked outside and saw an eviction notice plastered on our neighbor's door, and then, on our way back, a foreclosure notice on another neighbor's door. It's a blight!

About that time, we started looking at places. We found this one house: White stucco, blue awnings, shaded with live oak trees. I called the real estate agent.

Paul Kirchman: Paul Kirchman. Realty World Florida.

I liked the picture on his sign. It was a graphic of the world, as opposed to a photo of someone who smiles too much.

Turns out that house was under contract, but we wound up talking. I told Paul we were on the fence. Prices look pretty good now, but what if they're still going down? We don't want to jump in too soon and lose money, but we're also afraid of missing out.

We go see him. I ask him whether we've hit bottom.

Kirchman: No, we haven't. There are so many foreclosures that are going to be coming on the market that have not even begun to hit.

Paul thinks the low end of the market -- which is our end -- will come back first. I hope that's not happening right now and we're missing it. But he says there's no great rush. He will keep an eye out for foreclosures we might like.

We drive away from Realty World and I feel a little less worried. Jesse is thinking about the kind of house we might get.

Jesse: It might be cool to get one of those houses that are on stilts in San Carlos Park. We could actually, like, monitor the rising ocean as it sweeps under our house. That would be really cool. Don't you think?

(Laughs.) OK.


Moon: Lyn Millner is a freelance journalist who lives in Fort Myers, Florida.

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