With almost daily news with doom and gloom, where will things land and is it a good time to buy? A good time to sell and cash in? Wait and hold?
With elections coming up both in Canada and South of the border, allow me to get into the spirit of things and give you a political answer. THERE IS NO ANSWER to that question that is right for everyone.
If you are young (at the risk of offending anyone we'll arbitraily define young as under 40) and have stable income for you or your family, I see no reason to not buy a property within your means as a principal residence. History has showed us a few things; one is that it is hard to "time the market" and buy on the exact right day, and another is that , in the long run, even if you "overpay" by 5-10% you will see great tax free gains on your invesment.
I saw many, many people in 2003 and 2004 , during amazing price increases throughout Metro Vancouver, say over and over that they were going to wait it out. They now need double the down payment and double the monthly payment (on average) to buy that same property today. So did you "miss" the market? You want to sit and wait for the "drop"? That could very well work for you, and I am not saying it is the wrong thing to do, but I can say that even if you bought at previous market "peaks" in the early 80's and mid 90's, today you would be sitting on a lot of equity.
Investment properties are another issue. Here you really need to do your research. How much is the down payment? How much are your payments including taxes, maint fees, property management fees, What rent can you expect to achieve? Do you think it would be easy to rent? Will you get a lot fo tenant turnover? (More of an issue with studios and one bedrooms than single family homes usually) These factors will mean A LOT more and should have more bearing on your decision that price per square foot or other variables. Really, if you are going to be paying a shortfall on this property of $500 dollars and don't foresee the price going up by a lot more than that, who cares if you are getting a "good deal"? On the other hand, who cares if you paid $10,000 "too much" if it pays for itself every month and in 25 years you will own it outright with (hopefully) hefty monthly payments coming in from your tenants? What better retirement plan could one have than properties owned free and clear generating positive cash flow?
So, none of us have a crystal ball? You have salespeople and developers saying that there has never been a better time to buy. This is obviously not true. You have some on the other side blogging and talking about Vancouver being overvalued by 200% - This too is obviously not the case as even just a little knowledge or research will show you. The answer is somewhere in between, it would have been great to have bought 5 years ago, heck it would have been great to buy 50 years ago. Is it a good time to buy today? Only time will tell, but in the longterm I believe looking back that it will be proven to be under the right circumstances.