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Home Buyers & Sellers

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No matter whether times are booming or bombing, being a first-time home buyer can be a nerve-wracking experience. It was true during sky-high interest rates in the 1980s. It was true when the real estate market was thriving in 2005. And it’s true today with prices, interest rates and mortgage forecasts seemingly fluctuating from month to month.

Newcomers to the market often worry about the cost of buying, the process and what it will mean to be a homeowner. It’s typically the biggest financial responsibility a person will undertake, and it starts with the cost of a down payment and closing costs and continues with mortgage payments and annual maintenance and repairs.

Fewer buyers today can qualify for a home mortgage, especially since some lenders want at least 10-20 percent down. Plus, unemployment rates have remained consistently above 9 percent. All of this added financial stress makes it even more puzzling and scary for people looking to take advantage of interest rates that are at historic lows. Imagine the difference between the current interest rate of around 4 percent and one from a couple decades at 13 percent. For a $100,000 house with 20 percent down, today’s payments will be about $560 a month. For the same home at 13 percent, monthly payments would be just over $1,000. But home values in many areas are flat. It’s important to research your local market. Are home values plummeting or holding steady? And since the housing market is often directly linked to the health of the jobs market, checking unemployment figures is also a good thing to do.

There are reasons to buy other than just making a sound financial investment. If you plan on remaining in your home for many years, then now is a good time to buy regardless of pricing fluctuations. The social benefits still remain strong and your home will be an investment in the long run.

Be sure to think about the true cost of homeownership and if it's right for you. This is not a time to get into a financial situation you can't handle. Hiring a real estate professional is a good first step on your way to finding the right home. They can help answer all of your questions about the process and be your guide through the maze of financial decisions you’ll need to make.

Buying a house is a big decision, and today’s gloomy headlines can act as a deterrent. But there are great deals to be had in today's market … if you’re financially ready to proceed.

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