While we’re talking about when to sell, let’s note the impending rise in rates.

While it seems likely that the Fed will hold steady in the short-term, at some point they will make their move.  From the WSJ:


An excerpt:

Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas President Richard Fisher said Friday he’d like to the see the U.S. central bank begin to raise rates early next year, in an interview on Fox Business Network.

When it comes to making the first move to lift interest rates off of their current near zero levels, Mr. Fisher said “I personally expect it to occur in the spring rather than the summer, but we will see.”

Mr. Fisher was speaking in the wake of this week’s monetary policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee meeting. At that gathering, the Fed continued to signal that it would be some time before it began to raise rates, although it emphasized any decision would be driven by incoming economic data.

Mr. Fisher dissented against the FOMC’s decision because he believed rates would likely to rise sooner than most of his fellow central bankers believe. Philadelphia Fed leader Charles Plosser also dissented on similar grounds.

Two concerns here for home sellers:

1. The Fed doesn’t control mortgage rates – banks determine their own rates as they see fit.  It is similar to gasoline prices too – anytime there are headlines that give permission for higher rates, the banks are usually happy to oblige.

2. The Fed is paranoid about tipping their hand, so there won’t be advance notice of the actual change in Fed policy. You’re not going to know when rates rise – it will be a surprise.  By the time you get your house on the market, we’ll be at stall speed, because the ensuing panic among sellers should flood the market with listings – and we’ve already been overdue for a “flood”.

Higher rates made buyers jump last summer, but that was when home prices were lower than today. By the time we get to 2015, buyers will be looking for any reason to wait-and-see, and if rates popped a half-percent or more, only the best houses with the most attractive prices will be selling.

Do you think the Fed will have to wait until 2016 or longer?

They just might, but they have been winding down the QE just like they said they would.  If the Fed decided to bump rates one time as a trial or to send a message, it would have all the effect needed – sending home buyers to the cautious pit, and making sellers panic about losing a couple of points off their 20%+ gains over the last two years.

If you have some good comps around you today, and little or no competition, you might as well sell today while it’s predictable.

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