Should you buy or should you sell?

By Elizabeth Erickson | Aug 10, 2011

Last Thursday and again on Monday, Chicken Little was out squawking again, “The sky is falling!” as the stock market took big tumbles. By the time this goes to press, the sky may be resting in the toilet... or not.

Either way, dire predictions continue spinning out of control on 24-hour, make-it-up-as-you-go news channels.

In the real estate sector it feels like we’re living inside one of those 24-hour news channel worlds.  Depending on who you’re working with, talking with, or listening to, the market is either “great,” “awful,” “busy,” “a cesspool,” or “wonderful.”

Buyers and sellers too often believe in whichever channel they’re tuned: “Next year will be better,” “Next year will be worse,” “Buy or sell now,” or “Wait.”  

Many of the few qualified buyers are deciding that the current low interest rates are too good and they’re not waiting for the illusive rock bottom. [Of note: when that illusive “bottom of the market” is identified, it’s always in the past tense and too late anyway.]

The future may have higher interest rates evaporating any perceived value in having waited.

The best, most sage advice channel for both buyers and sellers to help weigh options: You, yourself – who best knows your own situation? Not that making that decision shouldn’t be balanced with knowledgeable advise, but making the final cut? You.

“The market can only go up next year.”  “Things are gloomy and it could get worse.” Though simplistic, “live in today” is good advice for making the decision to buy or to not buy or sell homes.

Yesterday’s decisions are done and there’s no promises tomorrow for those you make today. “Be well, do good works, keep in touch” – Garrison Keeler’s simplified sage advice. But it’s all so darn complicated, Garrison!

An excellent real estate cartoon shows a man talking with a genie. “I wish I’d sold in 2006.” Genie: “I’m hearing a lot of that lately.”

Today, if your best interest is to no longer own that home, call a REALTOR®. Clean out the clutter, stage it, put your home’s best foot forward and live with what you can get... today. The actual value will emerge as buyers come or they don’t.

Or, you could be right: It may be worth more next year... and if you need an economist to support your theory, and if you tune in to enough channels, you might find an economist with a Summa Cum Loud, Eh? degree from Dawson University Department of Economics.

We’re not finding many economist optimists right now, so use caution with a guy with a DUDE degree.

Or listen to the drumbeat inside. If you’re one of the fortunate and are able to stay in your home that still meets your needs, and the net proceeds of a sale won’t leave you enough to buy, then stay.

Rents are increasing and you’ll lose your tax deductions if you move out to rent.

Or if you have the qualifications to buy today, go ahead and buy. While you snooze, sure the value will be dropping, but not as fast as Friday and Monday’s losses.

And you’ll be snoozing in your own home and not a pile of possibly worthless stocks.

Or if waiting to buy seems the smart thing, then continue to rent. Keep your down payment in a “safe place”… I don’t know where that is, but I know that it’s not your mattress. Wait until you feel it’s right to buy, and that perfect house appears.

Or you’re struggling on paying against a short sale mortgage, then get some good counsel from experts. That’s a terrible, terrible place to be in.

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question “Should we or shouldn’t we buy or sell?” The answer is as varied as the homes we sell.

Elizabeth Erickson is owner and designated broker of Gallery Homes Real Estate. Contact her at or at the office: 425-212-4300 or direct: 425-508-1405, or go to

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