The best answer will be on an individual basis. Some owners have had their properties for years and owe little to nothing on them and others are recent owners with large debt and mortgage payments and may need to sell quickly. And as more short sales and foreclosures enter the market, it will bring more opportunity for buyers to buy at great prices.
Staying in contact with an agent of choice to make sure you are constantly aware of the market is best. This way you won't miss out on the great buys that come along and sell quickly.
Personally, for So. California, I think the bottom will come in 2010. I hope I'm wrong!
As the inventory rose in OC since the fall of 2005, we have seen sale prices declining. I projected in my annual market analysis for Ocean City condos in 2007 that before we see the bottom of the market as it adjusts back to a more traditional, single digit annual appreciation, the sales prices will reflect 2003 more than 2005 which was the peak of the market in OC. Currently, inventories have seemed to stabilize a bit indicating that the worst is behind us. If you purchased your condo prior to 2003, you should have some decent equity built in to protect you from realizing a loss if you decide to sell. Price the property at or slightly below its current market value and you should be able to sell it.
I found a great real estate blog that really tells it like it is for San Diego. If interested, visit:
What this means to you is...if renters can buy cheaper than rent, they'll buy. If there was a lot of "speculation" purchases, then buyers who bought expecting to "flip" are now stuck trying to rent.
I don't know why you are renting ( instead of selling), however when a market shifts, you may have to endure some negative cash flow in order to reap long term gains.
The Millionaire Real Estate Invester (best sellers on NY Times list), suggests a long term strategy. ..so if you've owned the condo for a short while, you'll get some great tax benefits.
I'd ask your REALTOR about the Absorption Rate. Let me explain:
If there were 500 condos on the market, and the sales during the most recent month were 100, it would require 5 months to "absorb" the inventory. The rule of thumb is that when the absorption rate is six months of inventory, that the market is balanced. The problem is that we've had a seller's market for so long in OC that Sellers and Buyers nad a hard time adjusting.
I think the short answer is that in Southern California, there are pockets that are doing well, and others not so well. Ask your REALTOR to provide you with an overview. If they are unable to do so, then ask him/her to find out. Usually a thorough CMA will help.