The Housing Market – An Improving Picture

There are, however, some encouraging fundamentals in the market today that could favor many consumers considering buying or selling a home at this time. The positive indicators include the fact that lending institutions do have money to loan, mortgage rates are historically low and there is a good inventory of housing available.

First-time home buyers

If you or a family member is considering a first home purchase, you may find that now is the best time in recent years.  The new federal stimulus package includes an $8,000 tax credit for first-time homebuyers—which does not have to be repaid.  The legislation extended the date for this incentive to December 1, 2009, so consumers can take advantage of it during the critical summer and fall buying months.

First-time homebuyers need to get preapproved for the mortgage amount they can afford and the type of loan program that works best for their needs.  Homebuyers will also need to decide the amount they are comfortable spending including property taxes and homeowners insurance. Your real estate agent will want you to have a preapproval letter before you can write an offer on a home.

Selling your home

There are many variables that determine if now is the right time to sell. The price you expect to receive for your home will certainly be a major factor. In many cases, homeowners are reluctant to put their residence on the market because of the declining values over the past couple of years. Experts say there is no reason to panic even if your house sells for less because you will be able to purchase a new home at a lower cost. Waiting for the market to improve also means you’ll pay more for that next home.

To improve your prospects for a successful home sale, real estate agents say home staging is important. You might consider working with a designer or other creative individual to help in that area. Things to remember:

  • Focus on curb appeal. Clean up leaves, trim trees and bushes in the yard so potential buyers are intrigued to see the inside of your home.
  • Depersonalize your home so people can envision themselves and their own belongings in the home. It would be best to put away some of your collectibles and family pictures for home showings.
  • Display any updates or improvements you’ve made to the home for buyers to see (on an easel for example). If the buyers see the information upfront, it will help them set your home apart from the rest.
  • Set out pictures of your home during different seasons. If it is wintertime and you have a beautiful landscape or a sun porch, include pictures for buyers to see. This gives buyers a chance to visualize how their new home might look year around.

Maximize your credit score

It’s always a good idea to stay on top of your credit score. It’s especially important in these economic times to know where you stand with your own credit and take steps to get your score as high as possible.

  • If you discover inaccuracies on your credit report, it is important to clear them up right away.  If items are reported with all three credit bureaus (Trans Union, Equifax and Experian), you will need to dispute the items with each bureau.
  • It’s also important to avoid applying for unnecessary credit. Although the discounts for opening a new credit card may be tempting, it will have a negative impact on your credit score.
  • Experts also suggest reducing your credit balances to 35 percent of your credit limits.  Credit scores are lower when the amounts owing are pushing the maximum available credit.
  • It is important to always pay your bills on time.  Late payments, particularly more recent ones, will reduce your credit score.

There’s no magic formula to knowing the right time to buy or sell but it is definitely something for you to consider. It may turn out to be a better investment than you thought possible in our current market.

Suzanne Carr
Suzanne Carr is the mortgage loan officer at Capitol National Bank.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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