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Estimating a real estate bottom

Best predictor is 'months of inventory'

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DEAR BERNICE: My husband and I live in Florida and have been waiting for the market to "bottom" before we buy our first home. How can we tell when is the best time to buy? --Ashley B. DEAR ASHLEY: There's no way to tell exactly when the bottom of the market will be in your area. I've been in the business 31 years and have seen numerous ways to predict what will happen. The truth is that no one has a crystal ball. The best predictor that I have found is "months of inventory." Here's how it works. Assume that there are 96 houses on the market currently in the $200,000-$250,000 price range in your area. Last month 12 of these houses sold. If no new listings came on the market, it would take eight months (96 listings divided by 12 sales per month) for the entire current inventory to sell. As a rule of thumb, if there are six months or less of inventory on the market, you are in what is known as a seller's market. A seller's market is one where the dema...