Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Real Estate Resolutions 2010

Sure you can lose weight, get in shape, launch a business or find a new job.

But haven't you also procrastinated long enough about buying a home?

How long has it been since you upgraded your home with a new roof, spiffed up landscaping or pulled some other home improvement?

And that post-World War II ranch home of yours could certainly use a few energy efficient do-overs.

Look to low mortgage interest rates, bargain home prices and other favorable market conditions to give you the resolve to consider home sweet home in your list of must-dos next year.

• Join the nearly 18 percent of Americans who say they've resolved to become a first-time homebuyer in 2010, according to a new Move.com survey. That's both a smart move and a timely one. Mortgage rates are at record lows, prices are down and the $8,000 first-time home buyer tax credit has been extended until April 30, 2010. It's also been expanded to include a $6,500 tax credit to move-up buyers.

• More than 15 percent of those who responded to the survey said saving money to purchase a new home is their top real estate resolution for the New Year. Resolve with them to learn the best way to budget, plan ahead and save money.

• Nearly 40 percent say No. 1 on their list of resolutions is starting a home improvement. Cheap home equity money should help them not only start, but also complete the job. Calabasas, CA-based Informa Research Services found home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) for $50,000, with an 80 percent loan-to-value note, were available in early December at an average variable rate of 4.98 percent. Some rates were as low as 2.74 percent.

• The Move.com survey also found 9.1 percent most wanted to fix their credit so they can buy a home next year. To get started all you need to do is take a look at your next credit card statement for a toll free number directing you to counseling help. That's part of the new, but little-known mandated disclosure provisions in the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 (CARD Act).

• Nearly 16 percent are wisely considering buying an investment property as their top resolution. The couldn't have picked a better time in the last half decade. Another Move.com survey recently found more than 12 percent of homebuyers today plan to purchase a home as an investment, compared to less than half, only 5.6 percent, just seven months ago, thanks to more attractive investment conditions.

"If you anticipate inflationary conditions in the future, investment property could be a good bet to hedge against it," said Nancy Osborne, chief operating officer of Erate.com, a Santa Clara, CA-based financial information publisher and interest rate tracker.

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