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Is Now a Good Time to Buy a Home?

by Mark Rieger, Mark Rieger Realty

 

The recent downgrade on the U.S. debt should technically raise interest rates on consumer loans; however, the cost to borrow has actually decreased. The average 30-year fixed rate mortgage hit a low of just 4.32% last week, according to Freddie Mac.

 

Many analysts believe that the worst of the price decline is likely over. While we won’t see a drastic increase in prices, we likely won’t see much more decrease either. Once there are clear signs of recovery, demand will pick up and your competition will increase, so now might be a great time for you to Buy a house.

 

If you’re a potential homebuyer, this news alone might compel you to run out and start house hunting, but just because mortgage rates are at an all-time low and housing prices have declined, there are other financial factors you may want to consider.

 

  • Getting preapproved. Have you been preapproved for a home loan? Because home prices and interest rates have decreased, buying a home has become easier for some people. However, qualifying for a home loan has become increasingly more difficult. It takes a higher credit rating and more financial responsibility to own a home today than it did during the housing boom around 2005 when nearly anyone could qualify for a home loan.
  • Down payment and closing costs. Remember that buying a home includes upfront fees and costs. If you haven’t saved, now may not be the right time to Buy a home.
  • Maintenance and repair. According to the guidebook Home Buying for Dummies, you should budget 1% of the home’s purchase price annually for maintenance.
  • Utilities. A single-family home is generally larger than an apartment. You will need to factor this into your monthly costs.
  • Property taxes. The median property taxes paid on homes in the U.S. is almost $2,000 per year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Aside from the mortgage itself, this is generally the biggest cost of home ownership. Taxes can increase as time goes on, so make sure you can be financially prepared for that.
  • Homeowners insurance. Your home has to be insured, so ensure you can afford it.
  • Homeowner association (HOA) fees. If you live in a condo, townhome, or neighborhood that is regulated by an HOA, you could pay up to several hundred dollars each year in HOA fees. These costs are not fixed and can increase over time.

As far as the market goes, now is a great time to Buy. Many buyers are finding beautiful homes at affordable prices for less than what they’re paying for rent. If you feel that you are prepared, you’ve saved enough money, you qualify for a mortgage, and you know you can afford all the costs involved, then now is a good time for you to buy a home.

Americans on the Move: Relocation Information is at Your Fingertips

by Mark Rieger, Mark Rieger Realty
 

On the moveAmericans are on the move. Recent housing market fluctuations and economic conditions have prompted many Americans to relocate. Some relocate to find employment or meet job requirements. Others are (sadly) losing homes to foreclosure and looking for a new start. Some are finding affordable housing as a result of the slow housing market in new locations. Believe it or not, there are some who simply seek new and better surroundings.

People choose different locations for different reasons at different stages of their lives.

Whether you're moving to a new community by chance or by choice, the transition can require a long period of stressful adjustment. There are ways to minimize the stress and prepare you and your family for life in a new neighborhood.

Tap Into Technology

If you have decided to move to a specific location (such as in the case of a job transfer), it's a good idea to become familiar with your new surroundings before you make any decisions about housing or local location.

The Internet is a wonderful, wonderful tool that can take you places without ever having to leave your home. Take full advantage of the tools the Internet offers. Start by contacting a real estate agent who can act as a "virtual guide" and, later, a location guide.

A real estate agent can be your best friend in this situation. Real estate agents are generally very well connected and can provide you with quality community information in an instant. Peruse your agent's website for local information and links that will help you evaluate:

  • Communities and neighborhoods
  • Recreational opportunities
  • Climate and geography
  • Commerce and local economy
  • Education
  • Social settings
  • Housing markets
  • Local demographics
  • Utilities
  • And more!

Your real estate agent can provide you with external local website links that will help you provide in-depth information.

Nearly every incorporated city and some unincorporated communities feature websites with helpful information. Simply access your favorite search engine and type in the name of the city. You may get more accurate results by using quotation marks around the name of the city (especially if the city name includes more than one word), for example, "Salt Lake City, Utah" or "Salt Lake City, UT". Be sure to use the name of the state in your search. Look for official websites with a ".gov" or ".org" extension. You can also type in questions such as, "In what county is Salt Lake City located?"

Local chambers of commerce are almost always willing to send relocation packets with selected information including visitor guides and local resources. Often their websites feature links that allow you to request a relocation packet online. Some charge a minimal fee.

If you are still deciding where you want to live, there are many public and private enterprise websites that compare communities and offer demographic information on multiple communities.

U.S. Census Bureau - www.census.gov

The U.S. Census Bureau is a great source of information. Be forewarned that smaller communities may only feature information based on the most recent complete census conducted in 2000. There are many different data sets available through the U.S. Census Bureau including:

The Decennial Census taken every 10 years to collect information about the people and housing of the United States.

  • American Community Survey - an ongoing survey that provides data about communities every year.
  • Puerto Rico Community Survey - the equivalent of the American Community Survey for Puerto Rico
  • Population Estimates Program - population numbers between censuses
  • Economic Census - profiles the U.S. economy every 5 years
  • Annual Economic Surveys - data from the Annual Survey of Manufactures, County Business Patterns and Nonemployer Statistics

You will also find:

  • American Indian and Alaska Native data and links
  • FastFacts for Congress - Demographic and economic data for Congressional Districts
  • Kids' Corner - Learn fun facts about your state and take a quiz

CNNMoney.com (Money Magazine) - money.cnn.com

Each year Money Magazine conducts a study of America's small towns and compares them to other small towns throughout the country. The information provided by this source is more subjective than hard statistics provided by the U.S. government, but its also more user-friendly and in some cases more in-depth. The information is somewhat limited depending on the towns studied in a given year. Money Magazine Places a high value on strong economy, education, low crime, affordable housing, etc.

Wikipedia - wikipedia.org

Wikipedia is a multilingual, Web-based, free-content encyclopedia. You will find information on many states, counties, cities and towns, and counties on Wikipedia. Remember Wikipedia is written collaboratively by volunteers from all over the world. Anyone with access to the internet can make changes to its articles. On this site you will find information about demographic (usually based on the most recent decennial census), history, geography, climate and more.

Sperling's Best Places - www.bestplaces.net/

Sperling's Best Places is another good private site that compares community features and gives readers an inside look at the best features of many communities. Here you'll find information about the cost of living, crime, education, the economy, population, climate and more.

Where to Retire -- wheretoretire.com

If you're ready to retire and are looking for a new location, Where to Retire can help you analyze different areas armed with information. Where to Retire strives to be America's foremost authority on retirement relocation.

Relocating to a new area is a monumental event! Choose the right location and know the location before you actually make your move.

If you need any assistance with your relocation to Central Oregon, or if you're looking to Buy or Sell real estate in this area, please give me a call. I'm happy to help you any way that I can.

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