Most say 'good time to buy,' few say 'good time to sell'
Most Americans surveyed by the group that provides the data for a widely tracked measure of consumer confidence say it's a good time to buy a home -- but not a good time to sell one.
This will probably not come as a shock.
Interestingly, though, renters are less bullish about buying than homeowners, who generally would have to sell in order to purchase.
That's according to a study for the Mortgage Bankers Association and its Research Institute for Housing America. The report looked at years of results from the University of Michigan's Survey of Consumer Attitudes.
Fewer than 65 percent of renters thought it was a good time to buy as of the beginning of this year, compared with about 80 percent of homeowners.
"For homeowners, sentiment in 2011 is at a level similar to the average over the last twenty years," notes author Gary V. Engelhardt of Syracuse University. "For renters, sentiment is somewhat lower now than the past average."
Sentiment about selling is -- naturally -- far more negative than average.
Fewer than 10 percent of homeowners surveyed at the beginning of the year thought it was a good time to sell. That measure was rarely below 40 percent from 1993 through 2006, and surpassed 70 percent at the end of the housing bubble.
Some of those who do think it's a good time to sell seem to mean it in the relative sense: They think prices will continue to fall, so later would be worse.
On the flip side, most of those who say it's a good time to buy offered a variation on "prices are low" or "prices are going to rise." Fewer cited low mortgage rates as their main reason for holding that view.
Oh, and one more nugget: Americans (owners and renters) are almost always more likely to believe it's a good time to buy than for homeowners to think it's a good time to sell. Check out the graph on page 33 of the report (the one labeled Figure 14) to see the years-long trend.
Do you agree it's a good time to buy and a bad time to sell? Some here have made the argument that it's a bad time to buy and a good time to sell (in the "sell now or lose even more value" sense). I've also heard readers opine that it's a bad time for both. I don't think I've heard anyone say it's been a good time to buy and sell in the last few years, except the occasional real estate agent.
But sometimes it's simply the time to move, whether good or bad. Though the level is low, homes still do sell every month.