Added: (Sat May 15 2010)
Pressbox (Press Release) -
Existing Homes Sales on the Rise
Existing-home sales were up 6.8 percent in March as buyers took advantage of favorable conditions, according to a recent report by the National Association of REALTORS (NAR). Year-over-year, existing-home sales are up 16.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.35 million units expected for 2010.
Experts believe March's lift is a sign of things to come. "Sales have been above year-ago levels for nine straight months, and inventory has trended down from year-ago levels for 20 months running," said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. "The home buyer tax credit has been a resounding success as these underlying trends point to a broad stabilization in home prices. This is preserving perhaps $1 trillion in largely middle class housing wealth that may have been wiped out without the housing stimulus measure."
In March, first-time buyers were responsible for 44 percent of homes sold, with investors responsible for 19 percent of the sales, and repeat buyers responsible for the rest. Housing inventory is currently at 3.58 million units, which represents an 8.0-month supply at today's current selling pace. This is 1.8 percent lower than it was at the same time last year.
"Foreclosures have been feeding into the inventory pipeline at a fairly steady pace and are being absorbed manageably," Yun said. "In fact, foreclosures are selling quickly, especially in the lower price ranges that are attractive to first-time home buyers."
Tax Credits for Energy Improvements
Although the $8,000 tax credit has expired for first time buyers, many folks are still eligible for another home-related tax credit that's available through the end of the year. The American Recovery and Investment Act of 2009 provides homeowners with a tax credit for select energy upgrades on existing homes. Windows, doors, water heaters, insulation and other products are eligible. The tax credit is equal to 30 percent of cost of eligible product, up to $1500 for all improvements combined during 2009 and 2010. Manufacturer certification statements are required to be eligible for the tax credit. Be sure to check with your supplier for details.
The Low Cost of Financing
Home financing costs are at historic lows, making home ownership a reality for many first time buyers! Freddie Mac is reporting that the average commitment rate for a 30-year fixed rate loan is hovering around 4.97 percent as of March 2010. This is slightly below the 5.0 percent commitment rate available last year. Many experts see rate increases on the horizon, as our nation's housing markets improve and inventory stabilizes. If you are considering a home purchase or a refinance, be sure to work with a loan officer who understands your needs, has a reputation for excellence, and is able to fund your property in a timely manner. A little homework can save you thousands of dollars. Contact us today for our list of local recommended mortgage lenders.