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The Big Move: I’m a retired mom, and want to buy an apartment in New Jersey with my daughter. Should we sell her home and buy now — or sell and wait for house prices to fall?

Dear MarketWatch,

I’m from New Jersey. My daughter and I are looking to invest in a multi-family unit for our family. I’m retired and live in a luxury apartment paying $2,000 a month for rent, soon to increase to $2,200.

My daughter is a homeowner and her property currently has $75,000 to $100,000 in equity.  

We would like to know if it would make sense for my daughter to sell her home (she would make at least $75,000 at the rates homes are selling in her area), and we move together into a rental home for $3,300 a month, and plan to wait a year for the housing prices to go down before purchasing a multi-family?

Thank you.

Timing the market

The Big Move’ is a MarketWatch column looking at the ins and outs of real estate, from navigating the search for a new home to applying for a mortgage.

Do you have a question about buying or selling a home? Do you want to know where your next move should be? Email Aarthi Swaminathan at TheBigMove@marketwatch.com.

Dear Timing,

Given the headwinds in the housing market right now, I’d say, go for it: Sell now, and slowly start looking for a home to buy.

As a buyer, the environment isn’t great. The number of homes for sale is low, as homeowners are locked in to ultra-low mortgage rates. They’re not going to give that up easily, so you have few options. That will also keep prices relatively high in New Jersey.

Plus, mortgage rates are still above 6% still, which means you’re gonna have to budget for higher monthly payments.

Interest rates may fall this year. “I think 2023 will be a year of volatility. The economy is already performing better than many expected, which is giving the Fed less of an incentive to cut rates,” Mohannad Aama, a portfolio manager at Beam Capital, recently told MarketWatch.

But as a seller, this same environment presents a great opportunity.

“We have an extreme lack of inventory that is causing the market to favor sellers at almost every price point,” Melissa Rubenstein, a Realtor for Christie’s Real Estate New Jersey, told MarketWatch. 

“‘We have an extreme lack of inventory that is causing the market to favor sellers at almost every price point.’”

— Melissa Rubenstein, a Realtor for Christie’s Real Estate New Jersey

But do adjust your expectations. The house may not fetch the price you both have in mind. According to one study by Wharton, some homeowners list their home prices higher than the market rate. As a result, homes stay on the market longer and, as the Wharton report notes, listing a house at above the market rate creates a “psychological dependence on the original purchase price [and] generates an aversion to losses that is 2.5 times larger than the prospect of gains.”

Timing the sale before the spring may work out for you. Spring is generally the start of the home-shopping season

“I would take advantage of that situation and get the most money possible for your daughter’s home before any rush of inventory in the spring,” Rubenstein added. 

So yes, it may make sense to move ASAP on selling the home. But wait before you buy, either for rates or prices to drop, or inventory to rise.

Plus, homeowners are starting to turn to the rental market for cash flow, so you may actually get a discount on rents too, in New Jersey. 

But be warned: There are no guarantees when trying to time the market.

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