If you want to get depressed about the real estate market and the economy, just listen to the news.   Bad news abounds.   If there’s any good news, it tends to come at the end of the broadcast, if at all.

Joan Baez said, “Action is the antidote to despair.”   Try to remember that if you start to feel helpless and hopeless about the real estate market.   That’s not to suggest that you deny reality and approach a lender when you have nothing to put down or look to buy more than you are able to afford right now.   If that’s your situation, you’d be wise to wait a few years until you’re financially ready.   That is great action to take for yourself financially.

If you are in the market to buy, I’d like to impart some healthy realism:     Although we’ve seen some real estate truisms turned upside down in the past few years, the turbulence is settling thanks to individuals who took action, from the White House to the average person.   The results of those actions?     Good news:    Adjusted home prices, historically low interest rates, and a very generous first-time home-buying incentive.   Now is a time of real opportunity if you’re ready and able to buy.

If you are selling, this is also good news for you:     The actions taken to help the market will get those buyers to your door (along with actions you can take to make your home stand out:   Creating curb appeal, getting rid of clutter, using creative marketing like home staging–just to name a few of the actions you can take as seller).

Despite what you might hear about our economy from the media, people are still buying homes–and at some amazing prices.     Home values nationwide have come down about 12% in 2009.     As a matter of fact, in 2009, we are at a point of the highest housing affordability in history, according to National Association of Realtors Housing Affordability Index.

How is this possible?   During the first quarter of 2009, the Housing Affordability Index reached 172.5.   In other words, let’s assume you have a median household income of $61,185.   You would have 172.5% of the income required to purchase an average-priced single-family property ($169,000) with a 20% down payment (National Association of Realtors).

In addition to historically low mortgage rates and lower home prices, you might not hear much from the media on the $8000 tax credit for first-time homebuyers.   These are not only creative ways into your first home, but they are ethical.   Remember that a home is not only the largest purchase but also one of the most reliable investments you’ll likely make in a lifetime.   If you are not a first-time homebuyer, lower rates and prices may allow you to purchase more square footage than you’d otherwise be able to purchase for your money in a different economy.

The media tends to fixate on foreclosure numbers.   However, they fail to look at the fact that, of the 70% of homes that carry a mortgage, 96.15% are NOT in foreclosure, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.   That is very good news indeed.

Try as much as possible to take comfort in the actions that were taken as an antidote to despair in the real estate market.

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