Should I Wait and See or Buy Now [A Guide to Decision Making]

24 May 2021

Every weekend, I drive around the eastern suburbs from auction to auction. I see hopes crushed and dreams come true. Confusion and elation. For the few that buy. There are far more that don’t buy.

Eventually, the time comes when you need to look at your situation and truly understand what is going wrong. Most people look outward, “they just had deeper pockets,” and “I never really liked the property anyway.” “they paid too much.” “I’d prefer to wait and see for something better.”

I’m not sure as a child if you have read any of Aesop’s fables. One, in particular, comes to mind to describe this situation. In the Fox and the Grapes, where a fox driven by hunger tries to reach some grapes on a vine but despite jumping with all his strength is unable to reach it. As the fox walks away he remarks “the grapes aren’t even ripe yet, I don’t need sour grapes,” rather than his admit failure. Week in and week out, like the fox, buyers will tell themselves it’s not them, it’s the market. This is an epic mistake.

This point unfortunately is not the crescendo of the story. Buyers having failed time and time again will eventually step away from the market to wait and see what happens. Buyers hope that the market will cool then gamble that prices will fall as interest rates increase. They hope distressed sales occur in order to get back into the market. This scenario is counterintuitive; if interest rates increase would these buyers still enter the market, probably not. “Interest rates are increasing it’s a bad time to buy” would be the new excuse. The merry-go-round continues. There is always a reason not to buy and there is always a better time to sell.

In any property search, it is natural for your reach to exceed your grasp, understand this and react to it. Pivot your search on a weekly basis, be ready to pay more for the next property because it may take you months before you find the next one and the market has already shifted. If you are not willing to pay more, then compromise on the location or property itself. One thing that is for certain is that you will never buy if you never make an offer or cast a bid at auction, you need to be in the market.

We can not know what will happen in the future, no one can. We can only take what information we have around us to make decisions that will hopefully benefit us in the future. Planning for the desired future is far better than hoping for the desired future. For property in Australia, the best time to buy was yesterday and the second best time is today.

Alexander Gibson

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