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Opinion: When is the best time to buy in a down market?

By Joannah Connolly for Vancouver Courier

Many first-time buyers are taking a wait-and-see approach, in case home prices drop further – is that the best strategy?

Recently I was asked to guest live on CityTV’s BT Vancouver morning news show to recap a range of industry predictions for real estate in 2019. During the interview, I was asked what strategy first-time buyers should adopt if they’re hoping to get into the market but are waiting to see what will happen.

This question, of trying to time the market, is one that comes up time and time again — no matter whether we’re in a rising market, in a down market, or in a steady market (which, in fact, we have now, in terms of prices for entry-level homes). People have a terror of buying a home at the “peak” of the market, or at another point where prices will drop after they’ve bought the home — but I don’t think this is something to fear.

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To make my interests clear: I’m not a real estate agent or adviser, I’m a writer and editor who specializes in real estate and spends her days analyzing and reporting on market statistics. I have nothing to gain from advising anyone to buy homes, and I am not paid by anyone other than the media company for which I work, which gives me free rein to share my views as I see fit. I own a condo (my home) plus a long-term investment studio in Vancouver. I don’t offer advice to try to buoy the market, but simply because I’ve been lucky enough to get into this position (largely by ignoring those who told me not to buy yet) and I want to share what I’ve learned.

The very smart senior analyst of the Real Estate Investment Network, Don Campbell, once said to me, “The past two decades are littered with the bones of those who stayed on the sidelines of the real estate market.” That phrase stayed with me, as I see it all the time — friends in their 50s and 60s who are still renting, and will now likely pay rent throughout their retirement years. They all tell me, “I wish I’d bought when I was younger. Homes seemed so expensive, even back then – but that’s nothing compared with what they are now.”

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