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March, 2008 Newsletter

+++++++++++ March 1, 2008 +++++++++++++++++++

Introduction: All Real Estate is Local
Mortgage Rate Update: Rates Stabilize
This Month's Tip: Special Article: Setting a Timeline

Introduction: Welcome to the March edition of the
Home Buyer's Newsletter.

We are pretty sure you have heard the statement that "All Real
Estate is local," meaning that there can be large variances in
housing markets that are dependent on location. This has been
especially true in both the run-up in prices and activity as
well as the subsequent drops in both costs and volume. Some
areas on North America saw huge run-ups while other areas
barely saw a blip. Likewise, there are some areas that are
showing jaw dropping falls in prices (due, in large part to
huge drops in volume) while other areas are slowly puttering
along. Although the attention is focused on those locations
where prices have fallen the most, there are still a number
of areas where prices are stable or rising near normal levels.
In the majority of these cases where prices are still on the
upswing, these areas are those that did not participate in the
abnormal increases of recent years.

According to the National Association of Realtors®, roughly half
of metropolitan areas continued to show rising home prices in the
fourth quarter of 2007, according to the latest quarterly survey.

In the fourth quarter, 73 out of 150 metropolitan statistical areas
show increases in median existing single-family home prices from
a year earlier, including 11 areas with double-digit annual gains
and another 12 metros showing increases of 6 percent or more; 77
had price declines including 16 with double-digit drops.

As a home purchaser, this means that it is imperative that
you get a good handle on how things are progressing, in both
sales volume and pricing, in YOUR area. What happens in Naples,
Florida is of little concern if you are looking to purchase a
home in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Get familiar with and know
your target market and you will be in a much better position
going forward.


Mortgage Rate Update: Rates Stabilize

Mortgage rates have become much more stable in the month
of February after the fairly sizeable declines we saw in
the month of January. Late in the month of February,
30-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 5.xx% according to
mortgage company Freddie Mac. The month began with the
average in the 5.68% range. In 15-year fixed-rate loans
the average stood at 5.xx% after beginning the month of
February at an average of 5.17%.
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: Setting a Timeline

Buying a home takes time. There is true no matter what the current
market conditions are, how much inventory is available or the type of
financing you choose. Since it mose likely will be the biggest purchase
of your life, this longer time frame works to your advantage since it
usually does not allow you to rush into a purchase.

In general, it is usually a good idea to budget anywhere from 90 to
120 days for the purchase of a home, measured from start until finish.
This includes time for personal budget preparations, housing research
as well as the actual purchase (contract), inspection and financing
processes. Having a timeline--and a gameplan to go with it--mapped out
before you begin to search for a home can save a great deal of time--
and aggravation--down the road.

Your first step, which you will want to begin at that 90 to 120 day
from your estimated move point, is to analyze your personal situation.
This will include some self-questioning of your mindset and priorities.
Some questions you will be wanting to ask yourself include:

+ Do we REALLY want to buy a home?
+ Can we comfortably afford to buy a home?
+ Do we want to buy in the immediate area or would we consider other
areas (including other areas of the country)
+ What are some of the absolute necessities in the home? What would
we LIKE to have? What things are not necessary? What do we definitely
NOT want in a home

You will want to begin this self analysis sooner if you are in an active
real estate market with a limited number of properties available since
finding the right home may take more time. If there are plenty of homes
to choose that will fit your needs, you will have more leeway in your
timeline. IN most areas of North America, inventory is currently at
fairly high levels, meaning that chances are fairly good that you will
have a fairly extensive range of choices.

After you have determined the basics (DO we want a home and what type
of home do we want) it is important to begin the financial considerations
since this will have a big bearing on your purchase. This analysis should
occur before you even consider looking at homes, a mistake many buyers
make. By understanding just how much home your budget can afford you
can direct your home search in the right direction. You can find
information on financial considerations on the site here:
<A HREF="http://www.ourfamilyplace.com/homebuyer/financial.html">Financial Considerations</A>
and here:
<A HREF="http://www.ourfamilyplace.com/homebuyer/moneytips.html">Budget Tips</A>

It is only after you have a clear picture of these financial and
budget considerations that you begin the process of shopping for a
mortgage. This can come as late as 60 days prior to your preferred
moving date, but the earlier you have things in line the better
prepared you will be.

We have a complete overview of a timeline for purchasing a home
on the Home Buyer's Information Center website, which can be
accessed here:
<A HREF="http://www.ourfamilyplace.com/homebuyer/timeline.html">Home Buying Timeline</A>

Next Month's Tip: Understanding Representation

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

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

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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