By: Rachel Louise Ensign
This New Year's, you may want to make a resolution to go house hunting.
Home prices are finally starting to recover, but they're still low enough to get a great deal. Add to that interest rates that are at historic lows, and 2013 may be the time for first-time home buyers to finally get in the game.
"We think the answer, definitively, is that home prices have bottomed," says Stan Humphries, chief economist of real-estate firm Zillow. "Right now, buying looks very attractive, even for short-term time horizons."
While the timing may be right, the tougher standards lenders imposed after the housing crash are still very much in place. So buyers with good credit and a hefty down payment may benefit the most.
"Now it's all about the rules," says Jeff Conn, a mortgage banker in the Atlanta area.
Window of Opportunity
A bevy of data suggest housing prices have finally begun to climb back. So there's a window of opportunity before prices start a faster upward march.
The median price of an existing single-family home was $178,700 in October, up 11% from a year earlier, according to the National Association of Realtors. But that's still down 13% from $204,800 in October 2007.
Prices are on the way up, but mortgage rates remain in the bargain bin. The average rate on a standard 30-year fixed-rate mortgage hit a record low 3.46% for the week ended Nov. 16, according to data provider HSH.com. The average rate on a standard 15-year, fixed-rate mortgage hit a low of 2.84%. And rates are expected to stay low next year and further out, thanks, in part, to the Federal Reserve's moves to keep interest rates low until mid-2015.
For first-time home buyers, it may be easier to buy. Many first-time buyers are opting for loans backed by the Federal Housing Administration, since they now have looser credit and down-payment criteria compared with the tougher criteria for standard loans. The typical rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage backed by the FHA was 3.31% last week, according to HSH.com.
This article was reposted by homesbykimblanton.com. Selling lifestyles not just homes in Middle Tennessee including Goodlettsville, Hendersonville, White House and Springfield TN.
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