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December, 2006 Newsletter

+++++++++++ December 3, 2006 +++++++++++++++++++

CONTENTS:
Introduction: Rises and Falls
Mortgage Rate Update: Rates Decline in November
This Month's Tip: Making Property Comparisons
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Introduction: Rises and Falls

October saw a slight increase in the level of existing
home sales in comparison to the month of September,
rising 0.5% but down 11.5% from the level of one year
ago in October, 2005, according the the National Association
of REALTORS. Prices were down from a year ago, with the
median national price falling 3.5% from October, 2005.
Inventories stand at a 7+ month level of supply.

In new homes, ales of new one-family houses in October
2006 were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,004,000,
according to estimates released jointly on November 29th
by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing
and Urban Development. This is 3.2 percent (±11.2%)
below the revised September rate of 1,037,000, and is
25.4 percent(±10.0%) below the October 2005 estimate of
1,346,000.

The median sales price of new houses sold in October 2006
was $248,500; the average sales price was $309,700.
The seasonally adjusted estimate of new houses for sale
at the end of October was 558,000. This represents a
supply of 7.0 months at the current sales rate.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Mortgage Rate Update: Rates Decline

Long-term mortgage rates continued to decline in the month
of November as the economy slowed in a number of key areas
according to analysts. 30-year fixed-rate mortgages began
the month at an average of 6.31% and declined to an average
of 6.14% in the final period of the month, according to mortgage
company Freddie Mac. Similarly, 15-year fixed-rate mortgage
averages slipped from 6.02% in the beginning of November to
an average of 5.87% at the end. These are the lowest average
rates since the beginning of 2006.

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: Making Property Comparisons

With housing inventory currently at good levels in most areas,
it becomes more and more important to do good, sound comparisons
between properties that are available and that meet your needs.
Although it may take a bit longer, doing comparisons to make sure
that you have the right house for your wants and needs usually
means much less aggravation in the long run.

Choosing a House Type

Your first choice will need to be the TYPE of house that best
fits your needs--single family, townhouse or condominium/co-op.
Not only will there be a good deal of difference in what the
various types of homes will offer--for example, most single
family homes have some sort of yard while most condominiums do
not--there will also be differences in costs. Townhouses and
condominiums usually will have Homeowner Association dues or
fees, which can add to your overall expenditure, but in some
cases exterior maintenance may be included, which can decrease
your costs in the future. To make comparisons of the types of
properties available,
see the articles devoted to this subject
on the site
.

Once you have selected the type of home that best suits your
wants and needs, you can begin to look at, and evaluate, individual
properties. Since there can be so much variance in location,
condition, size and amenities, it is important to keep track of
the attributes of each home that you see. Unless you keep a
record of these homes, it can become very confusing if you see
a number of properties on the same day, when they will tend to
melt together in your mind.

You can avoid some of this potential confusion by keeping a
scorecard on each home that you see, comparing some very
important variables:

+ Neighborhood
+ Size
+ Layout (number of bedrooms/baths)
+ Amenities
+ Overall condition

Make notations on each property either while you are there
(take a notebook) or immediately after seeing it. If you
don't, you'll drive yourself crazy trying to remember
specifics about a particular home.

Once you have developed scorecards for a few homes, it is
a good idea to make a recap sheet to compare the properties
you have seen. This will simplify the task of comparing
the positives (and negatives) of one home against the
positive and negatives of others. The comparison sheet
can also highlight potential disadvantages of a particular
property that may eliminate it from consideration.

You can find examples of both scorecards and recap sheets
on the site. You can print these out and bring them with
you whenever you look at properties.
Find scorecards and
recap sheets here
.

Obviously, there probably is not a "perfect home" in every
way, but there will be one that will be perfect for you.
You will need to know which attributes are the most important
to you--neighborhood, size, amenities, etc.--which will give
more weight to those properties that best meet your chosen
criteria. For example, if the neighborhood (because of schools,
say) is the most important attribute, it would not make sense
to buy a home in the "wrong" neighborhood just because some
of the amenities of the house struck your eye. Keeping your
attention on what really is important--and what fits your needs--
will better ensure that you find the right house.


Next Month's Tip: Do Your Research
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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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