2013: The Year to Buy a Home

Ed Hughes, President, Mortgage Banking, Univest Bank and Trust Co.

Ed Hughes The housing recovery has been a highlight for 2013, with improvements in home prices and a level of activity suggesting these trends will be sustained. Current mortgage rates and home prices are measured by the National Association of Realtors' Housing Affordability Index ("HFI"). The HFI is near all-time highs, which is good for buyers, but has been slipping recently as prices have begun to recover. Most economists believe the bottom is behind us. So, if you're thinking about buying a home — what should you do?

Evaluate your personal situation. Is your employment outlook stable? How much you make and your savings will determine what you can afford. How is your credit? If you struggle with these questions, one of our mortgage consultants can help.

Next, where to buy? Housing markets vary locally and are influenced by a variety of factors, including the local economy and demand. Schools, commute to work, neighborhoods and accessibility to shopping are just a few factors that are considered by most buyers. You can use websites to scout areas and prices to see what might be a good fit. Once you decide on a geographic area, contact a real estate professional — only they have access to the most recent listings.

Don't wait for rates to fall. Rates are already near all-time lows and home prices are rising. You may find that even a slight increase in rates or price can prevent the home of your dreams from becoming a reality. For example, a buyer who makes $48,000 a year with $500 in existing monthly debt, may be able to afford a $250,000 home at 3.5 percent, but a move to 3.75 percent or an increase in the price by $5,000 may prevent them from qualifying for that mortgage.

Buying a home in 2013 is still a tremendous opportunity, but it's very different than the recent past. The prospect of rising home prices and mortgage rates make for what many consider to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It's important to feel good about your decision to buy. Call one of our home loan consultants at 215-723-5571 or www.univest.net/homeloans to get started.

   Univest Bank and Trust Co. is an Equal Housing Lender.   

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