The best time to buy a home might be now

From a financial perspective, the window for pouncing on a once-in-a-lifetime deal on a home might be narrowing.

The state’s median selling price is down from $175,000 at the market’s 2007 peak to $109,900 in May, says the Georgia Association of Realtors. But recent prices are trending up.

The average sales price increased each of the first five months this year, from $126,381 to $152,740. Similarly, January-May median prices were up, from $87,000 to $109,900, every month but one — when prices were flat.

Good financial planning takes a long-term view. That’s why Ted Jenkin, co-CEO of Oxygen Financial in Alpharetta, and Wes Moss, chief investment strategist at Capital Investment Advisors in Sandy Springs, say today’s housing market very well could be the financial spark you’re seeking. Some factors to consider:

1. Interest rates: “With 30-year interest rates hovering under 4 percent and 15-year rates under 3 percent, these are tremendous times to be able to purchase a home at a decreased value with a fixed, low-interest rate payment,” Jenkin said.

2. Low prices: “Housing prices in the Atlanta area are, on average, at about the same level they were in mid-1997,” Moss said. “The major drop in the housing index a couple of months ago could have been a sign of people finally giving up and taking a much lower asking price for their homes.”

3. Return on investment: Buying now could reap better returns than the financial markets. “If you have significant amounts of money stashed in bonds and money market funds, you’re probably sick and tired of our historically low interest rates,” Moss said. “But on the flip side, if you’re also in the market to buy a home, you can put these low rates to work for you by making your move now.”

4. Getting a loan: Your prospects might be improved. “As the pendulum swings back and forth, banks are now becoming more willing to lend money than they were two years ago,” Jenkin said.

Think long-term

1. Look ahead: If your home has lost lots of value, it could be wise to sell . Focus on getting a deal as a buyer.

“With the inventory that exists around the city of Atlanta and across the country,” Jenkin said, “it could be the right time to find a higher-valued home that was beaten down in value and offers more upside potential over the next 10 to 20 years.”

2. Combine goals: “If your long-term goal is to live in a retirement state, potentially getting a vacation home in a place like Florida, Tennessee or Texas, where there are no state income taxes, could be a good long-term play,” Jenkin said.

– By Lauren Davidson, Atlanta Bargain Hunter


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3 comments Add your comment

Mark Smith

July 17th, 2012
7:01 am

Things may seem to be hitting a low plateau in housing in USA, but we do not live in a vacuum. The Eurozone is in crisis and China is beginning to suffer a economic slowdown. These things will affect USA in 2013 in a big way. Our economy is not going to bounce back and housing prices are not going to rise in 2013. Will this just be a blip or a full blown double dip recession?

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