There's a blog called Seattle Bubble that has made a very convincing case that Seattle's housing market is just running some number of months behind the rest of the country's. At first their estimate was 6 to 12 months behind, but more recently it's been 15-18 months behind. So, the question I have to ask myself is: "If this trend continues, is it worth waiting for prices to come down while interest rates might go up?". In other words, assuming that I could get a 6% 30-yr fixed mortgage today, what would the interest rate have to be to get the same monthly payment if the price goes down X% in (say) 18 months, counting in the extra rent I'd be paying and the extra down payment I'd have? With the help of Gnumeric, I made a nice little table:
|Cost decrease||Equivalent interest rate|
Now, this analysis ignores things like the future value of money (but considering it's only a 1.5yr difference, I feel safe ignoring that) and different tax deductions due to different interest rates, but I think that the odds of prices falling 10% or more in the next 18 months are significantly higher than the odds that interest rates will rise more than 1.5% in the same period. So, I guess I'm renting for that much longer. Yay math!
If I've missed something, or some financial whiz wants to critique this, I'd love to hear about it.