The Gambler - Do I Hold, Fold Or Run?

Dec 27


Rich Johnson

Rich Johnson

  • Share this article on Facebook
  • Share this article on Twitter
  • Share this article on Linkedin

Today's home buyer is concerned with a variety of things: good neighborhoods, good schools, employment opportunities, quality recreation - but overriding everything are the questions, "Should I buy now. Have prices bottomed out? Will the price be lowered later? Should I rent?


Watchful waiting is a solution for prostate cancer...maybe it's the solution here as well?"

Today's home buyer is concerned with a variety of things: good neighborhoods, The Gambler - Do I Hold, Fold Or Run? Articles good schools, employment opportunities, quality recreation - but overriding everything are the questions, "Should I buy now.  Have prices bottomed out?  Will the price be lowered later?  Should I rent?  Watchful waiting is a solution for prostate cancer...maybe it's the solution here as well?"

As a Realtor we have seen the pendulum swing from the Seller's side of the table way over to the Buyer's side.

It wasn't so many years ago that you'd come to Bellingham, Washington looking to purchase that home of your dreams & we'd drive down any street in Bellingham (or Whatcom County for that matter) & what we'd see were "Sale Pending" signs. We'd write an offer on the perfect Bellingham home that just came on the market only to find that there were 4 offers in front of us & the doggone Seller wasn't even going to look at the offers until the following week. In order to compete in this arena we'd virtually be forced to write our offer for more than full price, waive the financing & inspection contingencies, give the Seller everything he could possibly want only to get a response back from the Seller telling us that it still wasn't good enough (more than full price is not good enough?.) We'd be told to re-submit the "Best Offer" we could write & he would make his choice. The problem was that the Buyer was really forced to dance to the Seller's tune because there was little inventory, his wife & family were living out of a suitcase in the Holiday Inn & his moving truck was 2 days out of town.

Fast forward to today - July, 2008.

The pendulum has swung to the Buyer's side of the table & then some. We drive down the same streets in Bellingham & Whatcom County & what do we see but "Priced Reduced", "New Price", "Re-Visited Price", "Price Modified" - in fact there was one Realtor that subscribed to the theory if one is good, 2 or more has to be better, so he festooned his sign with multiple "Price Reduced" signs. There are Seller concessions, agent concessions, lender concessions - everybody is willing to give the Buyer something in hopes that he / she will step up & buy. I saw an ad that talked about an attractive Florida divorcee who had her house on the market & couldn't sell it, so, since she was in the market for a husband anyway, she decided to market herself & the house in a single package - Yankee ingenuity is great but I'm not sure that the general public would find this an acceptable strategy for either buying or selling.

The Buyer still has a dilemma though. Everything that the Buyer hears, reads & sees makes him / her wonder if he buys today will the home be worth less tomorrow. Maybe he should just wait. That philosophy is hard to fault, however a Buyer really needs to analyze the particular market he's moving to & determine just how speculative this specific area really is. Our oldest son lives in Mountain View, California & tells us there are areas in Stockton, California where home owners are not only leaving their homes by the dark of the moon but leaving their pets as well, often times locked up in the now vacant house. The problem is so widespread that the Humane Society is urging homeowners who are faced with foreclosure to take their animals to an animal shelter rather than leaving them unattended.

Now I'm here to tell you if you are considering a move to one of these areas, the prudent thing for a Buyer may be to wait & see how the market sorts out. Bellingham, Washington & many other areas are something else altogether. While the media paints with a wide brush & you see examples of their embellished articles every day in the morning newspaper, a Buyer certainly needs to be site specific in determining whether to purchase today or to wait

A Buyer today is well advised to step back & look at a community statistically to see what has & is happening regarding inventory, prices & consumer confidence to determine how they as Buyers or Sellers should respond to the market. Analytical tools that Buyers & Sellers both can use to determine the state of the market & then help them decide if it makes sense to buy or sell are available through local MLS's, real estate offices, city assessors offices & often times through local universities all of which can be used to track sales, inventory & absorption rates. It's by drilling down & analyzing this data by area, price range & date over a period of time that you'll be able to get a clearer idea of what is really happening in your community.

One of my all time favorite Country Western songs is "The Gambler" by Kenny Rodgers. In it, there is the lyric "You got to know when to hold em, know when to fold em, know when to walk away & know when to run".

So, in terms of The Gambler, I admit there is very little good news coming out of the media today about real estate. However, I firmly believe that if you wait for every light to turn "Green" before you head to town, you'll never get out of your driveway. So do your homework - there are good buys out there in every market, Sellers are motivated like they have never been before, interest rates are excellent & time is on your side. Depending where you live, if it's Bellingham Washington or an area like Bellingham Washington, don't wait for all those lights to turn green before you go into town - get into the game & play your cards.

You can reach on the web at

Johnson Team Real Estate in Bellingham