The New Year is not yet one week old but that's not stopping market "experts" from predicting what's in store for 2009.
The calls on housing and mortgage rates run the gamut:
- Home prices have farther to fall
- Home prices have touched bottom
- Mortgage rates will dip
- Mortgage rates will rise
Put it all together and it's clear that the experts have no better idea about the future than you or I. Their guesses are educated ones, but they're guesses nonetheless.
A terrific example of how poorly experts can predict the future comes from a Wall Street Journal performance analysis of 1,700 mutual funds.
In 2008, only one earned a positive return. That one fund represents zero-point-zero-six percent of all tracked mutual funds. Surely, the fund managers of the other 99.94% didn't expect to post negative returns on the year.
So, before you use predictions about the demise (or recovery) of the broader economy to make "personal economy" decisions, consider that the oft-quoted experts have a hugely better track record in analyzing the past than the future.
All we know for sure right now is that home prices in our market have not fallen as far as the prices in other markets, and that the reduction in activity has not been mirrored by a drastic reduction in sales prices. With housing as affordable as it is now, buying a home for your family , or to establish financial security for yourself is still a good idea, if you buy with the intention of remainng in the property for more than a year or two. And with rates as low as they are now, over the long term, the 1 or 2% price fluctuations we have seen would not impct the long term benefits of home ownership.
The old saw still holds true "it is better to buy real estate and wait than it is to wait and buy real estate"