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Real Estate Bubble: Sophisticated Musical Chairs?

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The real estate bubble is a hot topic today; annual appreciation and housing prices have never been higher in most U.S. markets. While personal incomes have risen in the single digits over the last four years, home prices have risen in the double digits. Home prices in some markets will reach levels in the next two years where they are not affordable to the majority of first-time buyers. As with any market, once part of the market can't participate it will impact other areas of the market.

Market timing in over-heated real estate markets will be key in the next two years. Those waiting for the very top of prices might be holding some over-mortgaged property. Understanding when to take profits before demand weakens is an art most unseasoned individual real estate investors should have learned from their experience in the dot-com bust of 2000.

When's the time to get out? Look for incentives by builders on completed new construction buildings or homes; this indicates an over-supply of new units. Research days on market or the length of time of property has been on market. If the typical time recently has been 30 days for sold properties and now market times for the majority of sold properties are 60 or more days, the market is softening. Home prices and mortgage rates effect each other, as interest rates drop, the more buyers can afford to pay for a home, but as rates rise buyers can afford less of a purchase price. Watch interest rates as an indictor of deflating prices.

Make sure you have a chair when the booming housing market music stops.

Mark Nash is a real estate author and broker. His latest book 1001 Tips for Buying and Selling a Home was recently published. Mr. Nash is residential real estate a broker in Chicago. His informative consumer focused real estate tips have been featured on CBS The Early Show, Bloomberg TV, Marshall Loeb's syndicated column on Dow Jones Marketwatch and in Ellen James Martin nationally syndicated column Smart Moves.

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