- Home prices have soared during the pandemic.
- The surge has given some prospective buyers pause.
- Real estate expert David Greene breaks down if now is still a good time to buy.
Should you buy a house right now?
It’s not an easy decision. With interest rates near the floor and ocean-like
about 20% over the last 12 months, Census Bureau data shows. And with the 2008 housing bubble still fresh in the minds of many, this rapid appreciation gives the appearance that there’s heightened risk associated with buying now.in the economy thanks to stimulus measures, prices have shot up over the last year-plus — the median sales price is up
When any asset appreciates so much in such a short period of time, it should rightfully give investors reason for pause.
But a hunch isn’t enough reason to buy or not to buy. What do the fundamentals say?
David Greene — the author of multiple real-estate investing strategy books, including “Buy, Rehab, Rent, Refinance, Repeat (The BRRRR book)” — addressed these questions on a recent episode of the BiggerPockets podcast, which he co-hosts.
While Greene was careful to hedge his statement, saying that unexpected things can happen and that not every market is the same, he said that yes, now is generally a good time to buy, especially with a long-term outlook, and that he doesn’t see a crash coming.
To be sure, his BiggerPockets co-host Brandon Turner told Insider in October that it’s more difficult to make money in real estate today that it was after the housing crisis, given the recent appreciation.
“Real estate has gone from something you can do as a mediocre investor to something you need to be an expert at,” Turner said. “In 2012, any property you bought would make money as a rental. Today if you take a random property, it will lose money.”
While there’s always a risk associated with buying a house, there’s also a risk in not buying, Greene said, as prices may appreciate further — making one lose out on appreciation — and eventually become too expensive.
“I’ve been hearing people say for five, six years, the market is going to crash. And so they thought they were being safe and they didn’t buy houses. And now they’ve lost a ton of equity and sometimes even priced themselves out of the market,” Greene said on the podcast.
But why is it a good time to buy? Greene listed two main reasons why.
For one, the supply and demand ratio is favorable to buyers. There aren’t enough houses to keep up with demand, and this means prices likely won’t fall anytime soon, he said.
The supply of houses is indeed much lower than during the 2008 crisis, according to Federal Reserve data.
Second, lending practices have improved since the 2008 crash, said Greene, who himself owns a mortgage company.
“I didn’t buy a house at that last crash because I was looking at fundamentals that were as simple as a teacher, a police officer, a regular blue-collar worker is buying a million dollar house with a payment that they cannot afford,” Greene, a former police officer himself, said.
He continued: “It was not sustainable. That amount they were pre-approved for was not based on their debt to income ratio. It was based on a negative amortization loan and adjustable rate mortgages and tricky financing. So the fundamentals were weak. When I look at the market now, I don’t see that happening.”
According to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Mortgage Credit Availability Index, credit standards are indeed much tighter than they were over a decade ago.
For investors, Greene said he recommends buying a 1-to-4-unit property in a market seeing strong appreciation. He said not to worry if it doesn’t appreciate in the first few years.
He also said not to look at a house as a stock — something you buy and then sell later for higher price — but instead, as a more complex asset that drives returns in other ways: by allowing for forced appreciation through renovation; by providing cash flow; by allowing for tax savings; and by providing the opportunity for a secured line of credit.
How Greene is shifting his portfolio
To “put his money where his mouth is,” Greene said he is doing what he recommended to investors.
He said he is selling off his properties in markets seeing weaker appreciation right now, and buying houses in areas driving better returns.
“I’m doubling, tripling, quadrupling down on what I’m buying. I’m loading up to buy a whole bunch more real estate. I’ve already bought a lot of real estate this year. I’m going to be buying more,” Greene said.
“I’m doing it safely and I’m doing it responsibly. I’m buying properties that will support the debt that I’m taking on. I’m buying properties in areas I believe will appreciate more,” he added. “And I’m continuing to live beneath my means in case worst case scenario happens and we do have a crash.”