Friday, October 10, 2008

Now Is a Great Time to Buy a Home

Even my optimism has been challenged over the past two weeks. Between the hate crimes being alleged in almost every political advertisement and the cries for financial bailout coming out of Washington, I’m on information overload. I view my responsibility in this weekly article to be both informative and instructional. This week I will do my best to fulfill both mandates.

At the risk of appearing like the ruler in the classic tale, “The Emperor’s New Clothes” I offer this article filled with positive information and encouragement to help my readers feel good about their investments in the Edmond, OKC metro housing markets. I also hope to motivate others who are standing on the edge of the housing pool for fear that the water is not deep enough. Jump in, the water’s fine. And if you’re already in, don’t panic.

Housing Inventory. There are plenty of great homes to be bought. In fact, there is a slight surplus of inventory in our market. And it is this surplus that makes it a great time to buy a home. Buyers have larger than normal selections of houses to choose from. The result is that most of them are taking a bit longer to make their decision.

Sellers, here’s a word to the wise. Your realtor may suggest a few things that will help separate your home from the rest of the available inventory. Before quickly dismissing these suggestions as unnecessary or frivolous, consider that potential buyers may see a dozen or more houses like yours. But it might be one of the small suggestions your Realtor makes that separates your home from the others.

Housing Values. Over the past twenty plus years property values in the OKC metro have increased a modest 3 to 5 % per year. This is both safe and realistic growth. And now with many areas of our country experiencing a property value crisis, we see the value in our slow and steady growth in home values. Property values in this market have held and will continue to hold. We may see small adjustments but even these will be regained in another year or two.

Home Loans. Contrary to popular opinion (which is quite often quite wrong) there is still plenty of money to loan for qualified borrowers. None of the lenders we work with have contacted us telling us that they are running out of money. Requirements for getting a home loan have tightened over the past few month, and rightly so. But there is still plenty of money.

Mortgage Rates. Just this week we have seen the stock market take a nose dive of historic proportions. Yet interest rates have not kept pace. Rates are still quite low. It’s still possible to get a rate in the low to mid 6% range without paying any discount points.

Realtors are hungry. The average sales cycle has stretched out and this means that realtors are working with each buyer/seller longer than before. As a result, they are working harder on more transactions, but they know this pace is only temporary. The good ones have seen similar markets before and they know that excellent customer service and hard work always pays off. If you have a realtor, stick with them. If you don’t, my advice is to get one. Your potential for significant financial mistakes are higher without a realtor’s assistance.

Lenders are hungry too. Contact your lender and ask for a printed Good Faith Estimate of Closing Costs and a Truth in Lending. These two reports will help you identify and eliminate any unnecessary fees and charges. Once found your lender should be a mood to void any superfluous charges.

The national media would have us believe that all the forces have converged for what could accurately be named the perfect financial storm. Fortunately our market remains a safe haven. Kind of makes you glad you live here, doesn’t it? Kind of makes you want to go out and buy a home too. At least I hope it does.