What comes first?

Local Realtor Teresa Boardman, who writes the St. Paul Real Estate blog, has posted an interesting survey of list vs. sales price for housing in the city in March. The average asking price was $173, 365. The average sale price was about 3-4 percent lower.

In two neighborhoods — Highland Park and St. Anthony/Midway — the sale price was higher than the asking price.

Is it a good time to buy? It’s a question that all real estate experts are asked and her response is “for some it is, for others it’s not,” which seems like an honestly good answer.

The comments section also provides some good insight:

I agree that it did used to be much easier to sell homes a few years ago than it is now. Still don’t agree with your idea of buying when the market hits bottom. For one thing you will not know when that is until after it happens. Also houses are places to live and it really only matters that you paid the bottom dollar for your own. I have mentioned before, we bought about three years before the bottom in our neighborhood but we paid the bottom price for the home we own so it doesn’t really matter and have enjoyed living in it for many years.

In February, according to Ms. Boardman, the average asking price was $185,233 and the average sales price was $178,390 — that’s about the same spread as March, though perhaps the story (if there is one) is that the numbers are higher. January’s numbers were higher still.

What makes Boardman’s answer to the universal question refreshing, is that it’s not the one you usually get from people who make money by people buying homes. Like this one.

Buying a home — or any other big purchase — doesn’t necessarily depend on the deal or the terms of the financing. It seems to me that it depends on the ability (or even the confidence) of the buyer to be able to afford it.

At a time when housing prices are comparatively low, the soft market may have more to do with the lack of confidence by people in the United States toward the economy. This is a chicken-and-egg situation that must drive economists crazy. People spend when they think they’ll have a job to pay the bills. The economy picks up when people spend. We’re very much in the “you go first” phase.

  • I agree — the market is slow, lending is tight and people are afraid to make a mistake. We haven’t seen the glut of foreclosures end yet either. We’re in for a rocky road!