Property Investment

10 min read

Should I wait 6 months to buy a property?

Learn why waiting 6 months won’t always give you the answers you hope for. By the end of this article, you’ll also know when waiting 6 months makes sense and when it doesn’t.


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Some would-be investors get close to buying their first investment property and then pause to think: “Hmmm I’ll think I’ll just wait 6 months, just to see what the market does”.

If you’re thinking this right now, don’t worry. It’s normal.

But while it’s normal to think waiting 6 months will help you make a better investment decision … that is not always the case.

In many cases, investors will lose out because they delay their decisions.

In this article, you’ll learn why waiting 6 months won’t always give you the answers you hope for. By the end of this article, you’ll also know when waiting 6 months makes sense and when it doesn’t.

Key points:

  • 84% of the time, property prices go up over any given 6-month period (New Zealand average, 1992 – 2023).
  • 16% of the time, property prices go down over any given 6-month period (NZ average, 1992 – 2023).
  • This means in any 6 months (over the last 31 years), there’s a good chance you’ll make money within 6 months.

Why the “6-month wait”?

When property investors often say: “I want to wait 6 months before I invest in property”, they say it out of emotion rather than logic.

Investing in property comes with uncertainty.

And one way to deal with that uncertainty is to wait, thinking that things will be clearer in future. That’s often not the case.

In 6 months – sure, you’ll have a good idea about what has happened in the prior 6 months. But you’ll still have no idea what will happen in the next 6 months.

Waiting will not get rid of that uncertainty.

You might ask: “What’s the harm in waiting 6 months?”

In my experience … people don’t wait just 6 months. Six months turns into 6 years, and then would-be investors regret they didn’t invest when they had the chance.

Or, in the worst-case scenario, they never invest at all.

No-one can tell what is going to happen in the future. And the truth is investing comes with a lot of uncertainty. That’s not going away, not in 6 months or 6 years.

Logical or emotional?

When investors want to wait 6 months, it’s not always down to emotion. Sometimes it can be a logical decision. So how do you tell the difference?

When investors decide to “wait 6 months”, they often give 1 of 2 reasons:

  • They want to wait to see what interest rates do
  • They want to wait to see what happens with the market

This is especially the case today when the market is a bit hairy, inflation is high, interest rates are up, and house prices are falling.

However, to figure out whether you are being logical or emotional, ask yourself:

  • “what do I expect to see in 6 months?” or
  • “in 6 months, what would make me decide it’s a good time to invest?”

Is it that you want to see interest rates come back a bit? If yes, by how much?

If it’s to see what the market does, what do you want to see?

Is it that house prices are increasing? In this case, you will have missed some of those capital gains.

Or is it that you want to see how prices decrease? And if house prices drop, will that make you even more scared of making an investment decision?

These are tough questions and often ones that are met with a blank stare when I ask investors, because it’s not the way most people think.

But if you are going to wait 6 months – you need to know what you’re waiting for – and what you want to see before you invest.

Case study: “I could have bought at the bottom of the market”

On the cusp of the first Covid lockdown, I worked with an investor looking to buy their first investment property in Rolleston.

They were excited about starting a portfolio, and I’d met them through their mortgage broker.

This investor was considering a 4-bed standalone house in Rolleston priced at $525,000. This was in May 2020 (those were the days).

But by the time the investor was about to sign the contract, the whole country was in lockdown.

This investor, understandably, got a bit spooked and said: “I think I’m going to wait 6 months to see what happens?”

And what happened in 6 months? Property prices soared, and Rolleston house prices increased.

Understandably, the investor was excited to invest. But, at that point – he couldn’t.

Property prices had increased by so much the bank was no longer interested in lending him the money.

Today that Rolleston property is worth about $775,000, and this investor has missed out on the property increasing by $250,000.

Often, the best time to invest is when the bank is willing to give you the money … you never know when they might take it away.

How much does the market really move in 6 months?

You might say, “Andrew, I’m very logical, and my decision to wait 6 months is based purely on the numbers.”

OK, let’s look at the numbers and see what happened to property prices over every 6-month period since 1992.

That’s the change in house prices from January 1992 with 6 months later … February 1992 with 6 months later, all the way to today.

Here’s what the data says:

  • 84% of the time, New Zealand property prices went up.
  • 16% of the time, New Zealand property prices went down
  • about 0.5% of the time, there was no change.

To explain it another way, let’s say you have one dice.

If you roll it and it lands on 1,2,3,4,5 – your property price increased in the last 6 months. But if you roll a 6, it goes down.

Yes, investing in property isn’t a game of chance, but I’m trying to make the statistics tangible for you.

However, sometimes we need to look at the individual regions because the national average doesn’t show what’s happening on the ground in your city.

When you look at what happens to property prices in any given 6-month period:

  • In Auckland, property prices went up 75% of the time over 6 months.
  • In Wellington, property prices went up 81% of the time over 6 months.
  • In Dunedin, property prices went up 68% of the time over 6 months.

What is the cost of waiting 6 months?

Let’s use these numbers to see what would happen to an investor if they wait 6 months.

Let’s say they were planning to buy a $600k property.

Scenario #1 – an average market

On average, property prices tend to increase 3-3.5% over any given 6-month period (it’s 3% in Christchurch and 3.7% in Auckland).

For this example, let’s use 3%.

What would happen if this investor decided not to purchase this property and thought: “I’m good. I’m going to wait 6 months”?

On average, the property will increase $18,000, and they will have lost $18,000 that they could have made.

Scenario #2 – a hot market

However, not every market is average. There are times when house prices can skyrocket above the norm.

For instance, at its hottest house prices in Dunedin increased 29% in just 6 months. This is the fastest increase we could find over a 6-month period.

If an investor purchased a $600K property that went up by 29%. That property would then be worth an extra $174k.

So, if the investor waited 6 months, they would have lost the $174k they would have made.

Scenario #3 – a falling market

Having said that, sometimes property prices will fall. The fastest falling 6-month period we found was also in Dunedin. There, house prices went down by 10%.

So, on that $600k house, if you had timed that market perfectly and had waited 6 months for the lowest point in the market – you would have saved yourself $60k.

It’s essential to consider these 3 scenarios because when investing in property there will be a range of outcomes.

Yes, on average, property prices have increased by 3-3.5% over any given 6-month period. However, not every 6 months is going to be average.

Should I just blindly buy whenever I can?

No. The message isn’t to buy whenever you can … and never wait 6 months.

You need to consider whether you are using the “I want to wait 6 months” idea as an emotional crutch to delay decision-making.

There will be times when it is logical to wait 6 months.

And similarly, there are also times when investors use this line to delay … and end up making a worse financial decision (not investing at all) through this procrastination.

So, if you do feel uncertain or unsure and want to wait 6 months, ask yourself: What do you expect to see change for you to invest?

This will help you decide whether you are being logical or emotional.

Opes Partners
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Andrew Nicol

Managing Director, 20+ Years' Experience Investing In Property, Author & Host

Andrew Nicol, Managing Director at Opes Partners, is a seasoned financial adviser and property investment expert with 20+ years of experience. With 40 investment properties, he hosts the Property Academy Podcast, co-authored 'Wealth Plan' with Ed Mcknight, and has helped 1,894 Kiwis achieve financial security through property investment.

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