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Interest in housing still strong

by Kim Cooper
| June 20, 2010 8:23 AM

Whether it is the low interest rates, ample inventory or the reduced prices, interest in area real estate is still high.

Last week's "Finally Home!" class for first-time homebuyers had 19 enrolled. These are folks who are actively looking for homes and want to be aware of the challenges and how to avoid the pitfalls of buying their first home.

According to the Idaho Housing and Finance Association, which posted a 30-year mortgage rate of 4.37 percent last week, "The Idaho Partners for Homebuyer Education Inc., created by IHFA and several organizations statewide, has designed an education program called "Finally Home!" to help address many issues that potential homeowners face. The program covers all the steps involved in making that big investment, from qualifying for a mortgage and choosing a Realtor, to making an offer and closing costs."

Participants who successfully complete "Finally Home!" may be eligible for the following incentives:

• Down payment and closing cost assistance

• Programs that accept higher debt ratios

• Using gifted funds at closing

Last year the Coeur d'Alene Association of Realtors became a partner in this program. This year, we had graduated 113 prospective homebuyers prior to yesterday's class.

Now that there are no more tax credits available, it could be the ridiculously low mortgage rates like the one shown above, that are causing us to maintain activity. Time will tell.

On Friday the U.S. Senate passed legislation, at the urging of the National Association of Realtors, that will extend the deadline for closing the tax credit sales to Sept. 30. This will still need to be approved by the House of Representatives, but that approval is expected. This measure will prevent loss of pending sales that have been delayed by their volume. Prior, these

sales had to close by the end of this month. Given the number in process, banks just could not complete the processing. The extension will help these transactions make it to the finish line.

Even without incentives activity continues. In April, the last month of the credits, we closed 215 single family homes. May was nearly static with 213 homes sold. June is looking good too, with nearly 100 closings.

These figures only represent a portion of sales activity and include only single family homes on less than an acre. When we include all types of residential properties, May actually outperformed April with 320 closed transactions compared to April's 284. So far in June we are at 146 sales.

Further evidence that interest remains high in our housing market is that many are still pursuing real estate as a career. As of this writing, we have 47 new members of the association. These are not repeat members, but those whom have never been members before. Although some may have been licensed in another state, most are new to the industry.

Tax credits or not, interest from buyers and purveyors of real estate is healthy. Now, if we can just get some folks back to work we can all agree we are in a recovery locally.

For a safe trip home, call a Realtor. Call your Realtor or visit www.cdarealtors.com to search properties on the Multiple Listing Service and to find a Realtor member who will represent your best interests.

Kim Cooper is a real estate broker and the spokesman for the Coeur d'Alene Association of Realtors. Kim and the association invite your feedback and input for this column. You may contact them by writing to the Coeur d'Alene Association of Realtors, 409 W. Neider, Coeur d'Alene, ID 83815 or by calling (208) 667-0664 with your questions or commentary.

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