I have been seeing the fear of missing out a lot lately on the private forum that I host each week. (Click here to join.) People have become so fixated on not missing their opportunity to buy, that they’re itching to buy right now when prices have only gone down by a few thousand dollars. I keep trying to explain that we’re in month three of a national shutdown. In other words, this is just the beginning. A relatively small percentage of people have felt the economic pain of the pandemic, and the market won’t begin to significantly decline until other economic factors worsen.
My motto of late has been “Don’t catch a falling knife.” What I mean by that is: don’t buy while prices are still going down. Even though I say that often, I still get people nervously asking, “When will I know the right time to buy?” Everyone is so concerned they are going to miss something. It’s as though they think they have a ten-minute window to get a good deal and it’s their job to pinpoint that exact moment.
I never try to time the height of the market and I certainly don’t time the market bottom. What I can do is promise that if you are patient you won’t “miss out.” After the crash in 2008, real estate prices went down for years before they hit the bottom in 2011. That was three years of falling prices, what I would have called the “falling knife period.” After 2011 they slowly climbed back up, but if you bought in 2012, 2013, and even 2014 you probably got a really good deal.
So don’t indulge your fear of missing out. Market bubbles deflate slowly, but they also rise back up slowly after their decline. You will have a big window to buy when the time is right, so there’s no need to put pressure on yourself to buy at the exact right time. Of course, the ups and downs of the market will be an ongoing conversation. I’ll let you know my thoughts along the way as the market corrects in the months and possibly years ahead.