You know that the economy has taken a turn for the worse when Home Depot is in financial trouble. The home improvement big box store giant slashed 7,000 jobs and is closing 40 of its Expo home design centers. Yes, the housing market is in a slump. People are losing jobs and consumer confidence has fallen dramatically. But there is a bright side: it can be a great time to be a home buyer.
For old house enthusiasts, there are many incredible deals to be had--especially if you have stellar credit and some money in the bank. Financing rates are friendly and labor is readily available. To say it's a buyer's market may be an understatement as there there are far more homes than buyers.
Take Advantage of Weak Housing Market
Americans love a bargain. The housing market is the weakest it's been in two decades, but there was still an uptick in home sales in December. Analysts were pleasantly surprised when existing-home sales climbed 6.5 percent in December to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.74 million, according to the National Association of Realtors. Also in December, median home prices fell 15.3 percent year-over-year to $175,400.
So what do all these numbers mean? You may be able to get homes in 2009 for 2003 prices.
Home Buying Opportunities
In metro-areas where housing prices have steadily risen to astronomical heights over the past decade, that's amazing news for home buyers. If you've been forced to rent or perhaps bought a home in the suburbs because you couldn't afford city prices, now may be the time to reevaluate your options. Commuters, for example, can take this opportunity to move closer to their offices. Gas prices are low now. But will they be for long?
The fix-and-flip market isn't what it used to be. But if you've always dreamed of buying a rental property, why not seriously pursue the idea?
Home Buying: Exercise Caution
If you find yourself in the market for a home, just remember the lessons the recent economic downturn: if a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Do your homework. Shop around for the best financing.
Sure, the housing market has lost its sizzle. That doesn't mean you shouldn't make the best of a bad situation.
Associated Press, Leading Economic Indicators, Home Sales Rise, by Ellen Simon
Washington Post, Existing Home Sales Spike as Bargains Glut Market, by Renae Merle
About the Author
Mary Butler is a Boulder, Colorado-based writer and editor, who spends much of her free time remodeling an old house.
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