Should You Wait Until After the Election to Buy or Sell a Home?

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    With the Democratic National Convention kicking off on Monday, the most contentious presidential race in modern history is finally at full throttle. It’s all anyone can talk about these days: Who on Earth will be our next leader, Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump? Yet while all the political fireworks are spurring record ratings on CNN and Fox News—and, not incidentally, causing a boom in the installations of panic rooms and bomb shelters—it’s all apparently a bit of buzzkill for the housing market.

    Sure, we’re in a boom market in many parts of the U.S. But even so, a palpable sense of unease and nervousness is convincing many Americans to hold off on buying or selling a home until after Election Day on Nov. 8.

    This is hardly a new phenomenon. Even in less pugilistic eras, Realtors® have long noticed that home buyers and sellers cool their heels during presidential election years. Why? Because people are uncertain about what a new president will mean for the real estate market, and the U.S. economy as a whole. So they figure it’s wise to maintain a holding pattern until the next president is locked in place.

    “People do use an election as an excuse to delay selling or buying a home,” says Florida Realtor Cara Ameer“Having worked in real estate through several presidential election cycles, I have observed that it can seem harder in an election year to move properties. People have fears and concerns, whether perceived or real, about an election outcome that may have them putting their real estate process on pause.” 

    But should home buyers and sellers play a wait-and-see game during election years? It’s hard to say, although historic data do suggest that presidential elections can sometimes dampen profits.

    According to a study of real estate in California going back to 1980, housing prices during presidential election years rise 1.5% less than other years. This might not seem like much, but let’s say your home is worth $166,000. Normally, you’d expect it to appreciate by $9,462 per year. But in an election year, that home would sell for only $7,462 more—or $2,000 less than usual.

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