Today's real estate market: Two sides of the fence

I have been approached many times with the suggestion that it's probably not a good market to be in today.

I tend to disagree depending on which side of the fence you are on.

There are many situations today where the market conditions are not particularly good for the homeowner: The loss of their job, and of course, paying too much for the home they are now in.

On the other side of the fence, unemployment might be a little over 7 percent, but that would also mean that 93 percent of our population in Washington state is working.

It is a difficult time, again, depending on which side of the fence you sit. I have buyers saying "We can finally afford to buy." Their dream is alive.

I like the fact that the government has increased "first time homebuyers" credit from $7,500 (with a payment plan over time) to now $8,000 (no payment plan). However, I believe that $8,000 should be for a first-time buyer, but not to have a time limit like they have now, which is not owning a home for three years.

I come across families that can't afford the home they are in, sometimes due to divorce or death of a spouse. They need help to get into the market again, and the stimulus package of $8,000 would definitely give them the push they need to own again.

However, because there is a waiting period of three years, it doesn't help these people to own in the near future. So they rent.

I also would limit the amount of salary you make for this particular stimulus package. If you are blessed to make much more than average, then I do not see sharing this money with people that can afford to purchase; this money should be used for people trying to get into the market again.

I would consider that "stimulus." However, we are seeing small steps, and hopefully over time the package will create better conditions for our economy.

Like the stock market, if you have money to invest, this is an excellent time. If you have no money to invest — bad time.

Same situation is true in the real estate market. Great time to buy. The "new" buyers will be a different breed than we have seen in the past. The "new" homebuyers will look at their purchase as their "home" to live in for a period of time. First-time homeowners just starting out will be their stepping stone to the second. The second one sometimes is fine until children come along, then we increase the size of their home to accommodate a growing family. Then the circle of life changes again, and the children leave home, and we downsize to something easier to take care of and, hopefully, retire in.

The days of speculative buying — I don't think we are going to see them for a long time, and that is a good thing. When appreciation is quick and unrealistic, our bubble is going to burst — and that is what happened.

The shake-up we have had in our society may bring us back together as a family, as a community and as a world. Maybe starting over for all of us is very difficult to cope with, but like my grandmother used to say: If we have our "health," we have everything.

Tricia Ackerman is a Realtor with Prudential Northwest Realty in Federal Way: or (253) 335-8729.

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