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April, 2010 Newsletter

+++++++++++ April 1, 2010 +++++++++++++++++++

CONTENTS:
Introduction: Declines in Existing and New Home Markets
Mortgage Rate Update: Rates Steady
This Month's Tip: What Type of Housing is Best for You?
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Introduction: Declines in Existing and New Home Markets

Welcome to the April edition of the Home Buyer's Newsletter.
Although sales declines were not quite as severe as some had
predicted, both existing and new home sales rates fell in the
month of February.

Existing-home sales declined slightly in February, with modest gains
in the Northeast and Midwest offset by softer sales in the South and
West, according to the National Association of Realtors®.

Existing-home sales, which are finalized transactions that include
single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, slipped 0.6 percent
nationally to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.02 million units
in February from 5.05 million in January, but are 7.0 percent higher
than the 4.69 million-unit pace in February 2009.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said widespread winter storms in
February may mask underlying demand. “Some closings were simply
postponed by winter storms, but buyers couldn’t get out to look at
homes in some areas and that should negatively impact near-term
contract activity,” he said.

“Although sales have been higher than year-ago levels for eight
straight months and home prices are much more stable compared to
the past few years, the housing recovery is fragile at the moment.”

Total housing inventory at the end of February rose 9.5 percent to
3.59 million existing homes available for sale, which represents an
8.6-month supply at the current sales pace, up from a 7.8-month supply
in January. Raw unsold inventory is 5.5 percent below a year ago.

In new construction, sales of new single-family houses in February
2010 were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 308,000, according
to estimates released jointly on March 24th by the U.S. Census Bureau
and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. This is 2.2 percent
(±15.3%) below the revised January rate of 315,000 and is 13.0 percent
(±12.2%) below the February 2009 estimate of 354,000.

The median sales price of new houses sold in February 2010 was $220,500;
the average sales price was $282,600. The seasonally adjusted estimate of
new houses for sale at the end of February was 236,000. This represents a
supply of 9.2 months at the current sales rate.

Obviously, a big factor here is the supply of inventory: 8.6 months in
existing homes and 9.2 months in new homes. Until sales make progress
in trimming back the amount of inventory, it may be a bit difficult to
get traction toward a sustained housing recovery.

For those who are looking to purchase in the near future, however,
the stars appear to be aligned in the month of April. Mortgage rates
remain at near multi-decade lows, it is the last month for tax credits
for both first time and repeat purchasers and prices in many areas are off
from 10-30% or more from the peaks of just a few years ago. Does this
mean it is all up and away from here? No, but the positives in this
market in many localities definitely edge out the negatives. Just
be certain to do your research, buy with both your mind AND your
heart and take advantage of the resources that are available to you.

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Mortgage Rate Update: Rates Steady

Mortgage rates remained fairly steady for the month of March, good news
for buyers who are committing to purchases. According to mortgage
company Freddie Mac, 30-year fixed-rate mortgages stood at an average
of 4.99% at the end of the month after beginning the month at an
average of 4.97%. 15-year fixed-rate mortgages trended in a similar
fashion, beginning the month at an average of 4.33% and ending at an
average of 4.34%.

Sustained low mortgage rates and as good inventory availability in
most areas as well as price pressures on sellers mean that the
advantage remains with buyers in this market.

For current average mortgage rates, see the
rates page.

For more information on mortgages, visit the
Mortgage Section
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This Month's Tip: What Type of Housing is Best for You?

You have made the decision that you want to buy a house. You have
checked your finances and they are in order. Ther is lots of
availability in the area in which you are interested, so finding
a home will not be a problem. Next, though, comes a big question:
What type of housing best fits your needs and wants?

It is important to understand that there are huge differences in
the housing types that are available to you. Although you will
find that there are additional variances involved in some cases,
housing falls into 3 basic categories:

+Single family detached
+Attached townhouse
+Condominium

The type of home that will work best for you is influenced by a
number of factors, including your desired lifestyle and activities,
your comfort level for upkeep such as repairs and maintenance as
well as your future housing plans and needs.

Single family detached homes generally give you the most freedom
(you can customize the home as you wish, with the caveat that there
may be neighborhood covenants that limit that). In addition, single
family detached homes are built on their own lot, meaning you have
a yard as part of your home. With that, though, comes the
obligation of repairs and maintenance to the entire property,
with all of the expense borne by the homeowner. You can find more
on single family homes with some advantages and disadvantages on the
site at:
Single Family Homes

Townhouses can generally be described as a townhouse as a home that
is attached to one or more other houses, but which sits directly
on a parcel of land that you also own. Depending on the community,
you may have some flexibility on how you decorate the exterior of
your townhouse and there may be a yard available on your parcel
as well as some common areas in the community. Although all of the
maintenance on the interior of the home will be your responsibility,
townhouses often offer a "middle ground" since much of the exterior
maintenance may be provided. If that is the case, you will have a
monthly homeowners fee which will provide for the maintenance as
well as other amenities such as pools, the common areas, trash
and snow removal and more, depending on the community. You can find more
on townhouses with some advantages and disadvantages on the
site at:
Townhouses

Condominums can take many forms, but they generally are a group of
individual units, usually in the same building or buildings, where
the homeowner owns the interior of the unit but the building structure
(from the foundation to the roof) is owned by the condominium
association. Here you will generally have very little flexibility
in the exterior of the property. The condominum association may
even dictate the color of the draperies visable on the outside.
Exterior maintenance is almost always covered by your condominium
fee but all interior maintenace will be the responsibility of the
homeowner. You can find more on condominiums with some advantages
and disadvantages on the site at:
Condominiums

It is important to get your decision right at the onset, so it
makes sense to invest some time making comparisons, factoring in
what you are comfortable with. If you buy the right type of
property, it will greatly enhance your ownership experience. On
the flip side, though, if you buy the wrong kind of property,
it can be a frustrating and expensive process.

Next Month's Tip: Sharpen Your Budget Skills
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The Home Buying Checklist

Many of our visitors have said that one of the most valuable
aspects of the Home Buyer's Information Center is the
Buying Checklist, where they can make sure that all
the bases have been touched.
You can find the checklist
here
.

As always, if you have suggestions for improving the
site, or topics you would like to see addressed in
this newsletter (or, if you have used the Home Buyer's
Information Center to successfully purchase a home),
drop us a quick line
here.

A special thanks to all those who have written to let us know
that they have found the Home Buyer's Information Center a
helpful resource in their buying process.

Have a great month and good luck in all your endeavors!

The Team at the Home Buyer's Information Center

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