Local realtors say now is the time to look at real estate

Published 10:28 pm Thursday, June 11, 2009

According to mortgage giant Freddie Mac Thursday, rates for 30-year home loans increased to the highest levels in seven months this month. Thursday’s news strengthens the statements and advice of local realtors that the time to buy a home is right now.

“It is definitely a buyer’s market right now,” Gail Dansby of Dansby Realty, said. “My advice to those looking to buy, is do not wait too long. There’s no telling when prices and interest rates may start inching back up.”

In a report Thursday, the average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage was 5.59 percent this week, up from 5.29 percent last week, Freddie Mac said. The last time the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate was higher was the week of Nov. 26 of last year, when it averaged 5.97 percent.

“The time is now,” Patty Bingham, with RealtySouth, said. “If you are someone who is looking to move into something bigger, or getting ready to start a family, or need a bigger yard, this is time to really start looking.”

Both Dansby and Bingham, each with more than 20 years in the real estate business, said the current economy and housing market slump has been one of the toughest they have worked through.

“I have been through some slowdowns but this one has been tougher than any of the others,” Dansby said. “With the other ones the whole economy wasn’t bad. This time it seems that everything was affected.”

But Bingham said the bottoming of the real estate market may be nearing its end.

“I read something just this morning that the bottom may be just a few weeks away,” Bingham said. “We’ve seen a lot more interest, a lot more showings, and it’s really uncertain on just how long prices will be going down and rates remaining low. Heck, I remember selling houses when interest rates were at 18 and 19 percent. Anything below 10 percent is a good deal to me.”

Freddie Mac collects mortgage rates on Monday through Wednesday of each week from lenders around the country. Rates often fluctuate significantly, even within a given day.

The average rate on a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage rose to 5.06 percent, up from 4.79 percent last week, according to Freddie Mac.

Rates on five-year, adjustable-rate mortgages averaged 5.17 percent, up from 4.85 percent last week. Rates on one-year, adjustable-rate mortgages rose to 5.04 percent from 4.81 percent.

The rates do not include add-on fees known as points. The nationwide fee averaged 0.7 point last week for 30-year and 15-year mortgages, and one-year adjustable-rate loans. Fees averaged 0.6 point for five-year adjustable-rate loans.