The Ups and Downs of Buying a Home

Is this a good time or a bad time to buy? Research is mixed.

It's a mixed housing market this summer

Buying a home is complicated – and so is figuring out how many people want to buy homes, and for how much.

Because mortgages represent the biggest debt in America – at $8.25 trillion, far more than the $733 billion in credit card debt – researchers are always studying the market. This month produced some interesting results…

Home prices climbing

You might think it’s easy to determine if home prices are rising or falling, but it’s a lot more complicated than simply averaging some numbers. A company called Black Knight tracks home prices in 18,000 ZIP codes, using both home prices and mortgage data. Its results from March, the last month available:

  • The average home cost $275,000
  • That’s 1.2 percent more than February
  • That’s 5.3 percent more than March 2015

Which state had the steepest price hikes? You might have guessed sunny California and Florida, which both jumped 1.2 percent. But chilly Michigan beat them both at 1.8 percent.

Hot summer for hot deals?

Ask any real estate agent, and they’ll tell you that spring is their busy season. Winter is over, the school year is ending, and families are moving. But there’s a problem with spring shopping.

“From a buyer’s perspective you have more choice, but you’re also competing against far more buyers,” says Ken Johnson, a real estate economist at Florida Atlantic University. “Sellers are also looking to sell over the summer, particularly if they have children and want to get a deal done before school starts again.”

This required research?

Finally, an online real estate firm called Redfin interviewed nearly 1,000 homebuyers to come up with these obvious conclusions:

“Affordability is the main concern keeping homebuyers up at night.”

“Competition was the next-most common worry.”

The most interesting result instills some doubt in the commonly held belief that most homebuyers are looking for good schools and close commutes. While survey showed 41 percent believe schools are the “most important factor” and 32 percent believe it’s the commute, the winner is a home’s “layout, finishes and design” at 46 percent.

If you’re looking for the best research into buying, selling, or keeping your home, Consolidated Credit’s Housing Counseling Division offers everything from proven buying advice to mortgage payment assistance programs. Check it out or call 1-800-435-2261 to speak to a HUD-certified housing counselor right now.

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April Lewis-Parks
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