If you’re thinking of buying property – or investing in property for that matter – you’ll probably be asking yourself if now is a good time to buy or not. Here we’ll look at whether you should buy property now or wait.

Firstly, the property market is certainly an unusual market at the moment. Prices are holding up pretty well, although demand is notably down. But then that follows three years or so of a market that probably should have fallen but just kept going up and up.

So let’s weigh up some factors that might help you decide whether you should make a move in the property market now, or wait.

Why might you buy property now?

House prices are starting to fall, according to most price indices. So you may be able to buy for less than you thought, or even get a bargain. (Price falls aren’t equal across the market however. They are larger in some places but minimal in others.).

The property market is cooler in most places. That makes the business of buying less hectic and less stressful.

In a cooler property market you don’t have to rush to view and make an offer the day a property reaches the market – as has sometimes been the case in recent times. You probably won’t be competing with a dozen or more keen buyers. You can take your time.

You can probably make an offer that is below the asking price and still be taken seriously  rather than being expected to make an offer over the asking price, as has been the case in recent times. You may even be successful with a cheeky bid!

If you’re currently renting you may find that, bearing in mind the current high level of rents, buying will actually work out cheaper than renting.

If you’re buying to let then, in a situation where prices are tailing off but rents are strong if not rising, you can get some very attractive yields with the right investment. Demand for rentals is sky high in most places, so you shouldn’t be short of tenants either.

Why might you wait?

Now let’s look at why now may not be such a good time to buy:

Property prices may have fallen slightly in many places but they’re still at historic highs. They are forecast to fall further over the next year or so, before rising again. So if you buy now you may need to be willing to take a short term loss, at least on paper.

Trying to time the property market is, however, always a tricky and uncertain business.

The cost of a mortgage is uncertain. Most experts believe that interest rates have peaked. But it’s by no means clear.

One way to look at this is that if you can afford a mortgage now you should probably be able to afford it in the long term. If interest rates fall you might be able to remortgage at a lower rate. (Always make sure a mortgage you take is affordable if rates rise however.)

There are sometimes practical difficulties involved with getting a mortgage at the moment too. A volatile market means that mortgage products are being withdrawn, introduced and withdrawn at very short (and often no) notice. There’s a risk that even if you get a mortgage offer in advance it might not be available when completion time comes.

There’s an increased risk of fall-throughs at the moment, partly because of the volatile mortgage market and volatile pricing. Even if your purchase goes smoothly there could be a chain further down the line and that could be at more risk of collapsing so affecting your purchase.

How to decide if now is a good time to buy or not

So should you buy property (or invest in property) now …. or wait until the market seems more favourable?

This is the question that property buyers and property investors have been asking for decades!

Every buyer or investor always hopes to find that sweet spot, where they can buy at the lowest point in the market, just before the market starts to rise. In reality that rarely happens, and then mostly by chance. Predicting the peaks and troughs in the property market is notoriously difficult (some would say impossible).

The best way to look at whether now is a good time to buy property, or whether you should wait, is to do so on the basis of what is right for you. If a property is right for you, if you think the price is a good one, and if you can afford it then now is a good time to buy. If it isn’t, it isn’t and you can’t then it is probably better to wait.

Originally written by Mark Hempshell for Apex 27.