Real estate looking up in Phila. region

March 23, 2009 3:22:25 PM PDT
Home buyers in greater Philadelphia are inching their way back into the real estate market.

Prices in the region are down about eight percent from last year, but that is still better than most places.

Nationally, home prices are down fifteen-and-a-half percent. Still, realtors in our area have reason to put a little extra spring in their step.

"Interest rates are low. If you're a buyer and you're buying up, you can find some phenomenal deals. There's a lot to look at and a lot of opportunity so that's why we're interested," says Adel Olsen of Towamensin Township.

Olsen is not the only home buyer taking advantage of record low interest rates, more inventory and dropping home prices. Kevin McGilloway of Mortgage America says some new numbers are promising. Applications for mortgages are up 20 percent in the first quarter across the Philadelphia suburbs.

"As long as the buyer and the consumer are confident they are going to have a job 12 months or 16 months from now, that's when I really feel as though the real estate market is going to take off. We're starting to see that now," McGilloway says.

David Caracausa, president of Coldwell Banker Premier Properties, has seen an up-tick in the Montgomery and Bucks county real estate markets over the last couple of months. He says that's because this region did not experience the kind of real estate boom that places like Arizona, Florida and California did. As a result, the Philadelphia region has seen fewer foreclosures.

"We have diversity as far as the age group of people here - and available housing, too, whether it's town houses, over-55 housing, luxury estate homes and so forth. All these allow us to attract different buyers at different price points," says Caracausa.

Caracausa says this is an ideal time to buy. But what about selling the house you have? Caracausa says the average re-sale time is about 100 days.

"If they take the time to have their home presented in the best possible light, their home will absolutely sell."

And mortgage brokers say there is another factor adding to the increase in mortgage applications. The national stimulus package offers new home buyers an $8000 credit for houses purchased before December of this year.

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