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Berks County Housing Market is Recovering

  In 2012 the real estate market began to stabilize. Home buyers are returning to the market to take advantage of the low interest rates and bargain prices on real estate. The typical home buyers felt a level of confidence that if they purchased now, they would be at the rock bottom prices and home price would not continue to decline. 2012 showed a decrease in inventory for single family homes for sale for the first time in many years. I predict that the real estate market will continue to correct itself in a slow manner and the number of homes sold will continue to increase at a steady pace. As home inventory drops and the purchase demand is higher, prices will begin to recover. Prices will not rebound back to what they were, but will show modest increases in the future. All of this is good news for the Berks County Real Estate Market.

Factors that will affect the level of growth are the interest rates, job market, and property taxation. If interest rates stay low, unemployment continues to decrease, and local government keeps taxes in check, we will see a stronger housing market recovery.

Good news on the lending front is that home loans are more available to the real estate buyer. FHA insured loans are still one of the best bets since they are more lenient on credit scores and they only require 3.5% down payment. Another program that is worth noting is the PHFA Mortgage (Pennsylvania Home Finance Agency www.phfa.org) which requires a credit Fico score of only 660 and financing is available for up to 97 percent of a home’s value. Customers don’t have to be first-time homebuyers to qualify. Both of these programs offer down-payment and closing-cost assistance. Homeowners seeking refinancing may also qualify, which is something new from PHFA. PHFA will work with borrowers so that they make sound financial decisions. Ongoing counseling will be required, as well, to ensure that borrowers are managing their mortgage obligations. PHFA has teamed up with Fannie Mae directly so PMI (private mortgage insurance) may not be required on a PHFA Loan. Typically all loans were subjected to the expensive private mortgage insurance, unless you put 20% or more down. This is savings to the buyer’s monthly mortgage payment .

Berks County – Single-Family Homes

Inventory

Sep 11

Sep 12

Inventory

3,847

3,155

Inv. Accumulation

15.2

11.5

Market History

Sep 11

Sep 12

Settled

274

270

Median Price

$149,000

$156,000

SPrice/OPrice

89.9%

91.1%

Year-to-Date Market Snapshot

Sep 11

Sep 12

Settled

2,331

2,565

Median Price

$144,000

$147,000

SPrice/OPrice

90.05%

90.30%

Bill Sands

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