Monday, January 19, 2009

Buy now! Beat the spring rush

Record low interest rates, low-low home prices, less competition and other factors have converged. You've got plenty of time to beat the spring rush. Use it wisely.

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by Broderick Perkins
© 2008 DeadlineNews.Com
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Deadline Newsroom - Down market. Up market. It doesn't matter. Spring showers typically bring spring buyers.

But if you wait for the seasonal thaw you'll join what could be a throng of market savvy buyers who have already scoped the lay of the land and are elbowing for position.

In many communities, an over-supply of homes for sale with reduced prices, foreclosures, auction sales and sellers shopping for short sale buyers, all make it an opportune time not to procrastinate.

"We are seeing a confluence of events that contributes to the increase in the number of closed sales," said Quincy Virgilio, president of the Santa Clara County Association of Realtors in San Jose, CA.

"Interest rates are at a record low and the affordability index nears a 5-year high. For first-time buyers, rents are skyrocketing and that's an added incentive to buy a home now," added Virgilio, also broker-owner of Realty World California Property Network, also in San Jose.

That doesn't mean every home is a Blue Light Special or that you can shop with reckless abandon. It's a better idea to prepare now, become a savvy buyer and beat the spring rush.

To help get you started we've gleaned some key tips from "Buying Your First Home Now" (, $24.99), by Ilona Bray, Alayna Schroeder, Marcia Stewart and a dozen contributing experts knowledgeable in everything from credit, borrowing and buying to escrow, insurance and taxes.

• Check your home-buying pulse. Just because there's a convergence of favorable market conditions doesn't mean it's your time to buy.

Base your decision solely on the state of your housing market and you'll overlook why the current market is littered with the former homes of those who borrowed more than they could afford.

Likewise, if you wait for prices to fall more your could miss out. No one knows when the market will hit bottom until it begins a sustained upward turn and you can look back and actually see bottom.

Buy a home because, for you, it's the right thing to do. Buy because it's more affordable than renting, because you plan on staying put until it pays off, buy because it is a good fit for your lifestyle and your personal goals.

• Learn your local market. While you certainly need to be up on the most recent housing news, get news from your local media outlets, your friendly neighborhood real estate agents and data providers that regularly generate information about your community.

• Get some basic training. Even if you've purchased before, bone up now. Regulations, local practices and market conditions change. Use well-established, frequently-updated information sources on and off line. Attend real estate industry-sponsored seminars, workshops, counseling sessions and post-secondary level realty classes.

• Examine your credit. Pull your credit report and check your credit score before your lender does. You need to make sure both are where they need to be to land you a home loan. (also at 877-322-8228) is the one and only official, federally sanctioned program giving you free annual access to your credit report. The nominal fee to obtain your credit score from one of the three credit reporting agencies is worth the cost.

• Shop with money in your pocket. Get a mortgage approved before you begin to shop for a home. You need to know how much you can afford and how much home you can buy so you can negotiate from a position of strength. Shop around for the best mortgage possible.

• Buy like a savvy investor. Buy low now, sell high later. Shop in the least expensive neighborhood in the best community or the least expensive city in the region. Drill down to buy the least expensive home on the best block or the cheapest home in a neighborhood in transition.

• Pack a shotgun. Use your real estate agent as your point person, but spread your shopping efforts to every corner of the housing market -- classifieds, open houses, online listing portals, the distressed market; tell friends, family and co-workers you are in the market.

"For the immediate future, look for distressed properties to continue flooding the low-performing markets, which will keep sales high but hurt property values," says Stefan Walker a broker with the Los Gatos, CA office of Alain Pinel.

"In the more stable markets, the upper end will continue to cool, but record-low interest rates should keep demand relatively strong for well-positioned mid-value properties," Walker added.

Sell now! Beat the spring rush!
Remodel now! Beat the spring rush!

Get more home buying news that really hits home!

© 2008 DeadlineNews.Com

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Broderick Perkins, an award-winning consumer journalist, parlayed 30 years of old-school journalism into a digital real estate news service, the San Jose, CA-based DeadlineNews Group -- DeadlineNews.Com, a real estate news and consulting service and Web site and the Deadline Newsroom, DeadlineNews.Com's news back shop. Perkins is also a National Real Estate Examiner. All the news that really hits home from three locations -- that's location, location, location!

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