2008 Coldwell Banker Home Price Comparison Index

  Most Expensive 2008 Avg. Sales Price   Most Affordable

2008 Avg. Sales Price

1 La Jolla, CA $1,841,667   Sioux City, IA $133,459
2 Greenwich, CT $1,787,000   Jackson, MI $134,325
3 Beverly Hills, CA $1,777,475   Akron, OH $135,780
4 Palo Alto, CA $1,740,333   Canton, OH $139,667
5 Santa Monica, CA $1,653,333   Grayling, MI $141,000
6 Santa Barbara, CA $1,599,667   Minot, ND $142,000
7 Newport Beach, CA $1,546,250   Arlington, TX  $143,775
8 San Francisco, CA $1,513,181   Muncie, IN $144,250
9 Boston, MA $1,493,750   Killeen, TX $145,812
10 San Mateo, CA $1,366,475   Eau Claire, WI $147,300

One of the most interesting and useful comparisons for national home prices is no doubt the annual Coldwell Banker Home Price Comparison Index. It isn’t the average or median price in these cities: this one provides an apples-to-apples comparison of similar 2,200 square foot, four-bedroom, two-and-a-half bath homes in 315 markets across the United States, plus other areas and countries.

Remember, all of the prices you are looking at here are for similar homes – the only real variation being location. A similar home in La Jolla ($887 a square foot) costs almost fourteen times as much as one in Sioux City, Iowa ($60 a foot). Wow. It looks like it is: Location, location, location.

Here is a link to an article showing various tables and graphs from Market Watch.

Window of Opportunity?

Would you be better off if you waited a bit for the market to “hit bottom”? Or is now is now a good time to buy?Window_of_Opportunity

It depends.

It depends on several factors: do you need a home now? Can you comfortably wait? How you will know the bottom happened? What if interest rates went up as prices were at their very lowest?

There are so many economists (and other people who also don’t know) making specific predictions on what is going to happen and when, that one thing is obvious: they can’t all be right. Most of them don’t agree even on how they define, “bottom”. I would add the obvious fact that not one “professional predictor” ever predicted the run UP in prices back in 2005. Not one. Not one single economist predicted the run up in prices – it was only after it was happening that they all started “explaining things”. It is for this reason alone that I tend to ignore most of their predictions now. They don’t know.

What is known is that the absolute bottom on prices can only be known for sure 4 to 5 months after the fact. It isn’t possible to be certain at the time. Will some people manage to have actually hit precisely the bottom? Yes. But if they claim to have done it intentionally it is a pretty safe bet that they are knowingly lying or are running on pretended knowingness – as it is very unlikely to causatively “time the market”.

Some think the absolute bottom is 6 months from now. Some investors think it has already occurred. What I know is that the biggest winners of this market in years to come will be the ones who bought while they could in the “window of opportunity”.