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Monday, May 10, 2010

Realtors Look To Rates For Sales

With Tax Credit Expired, Market May Need Another Boost

By Dennis Phillips
POSTED: May 10, 2010
With the expiration of the first-time homebuyer credit April 30, realtors are banking on another aspect to help continue the growth in the housing market.
Low mortgage rates are the new influence state and local realtors are counting on to continue the 18 percent growth in the housing market that was experienced during the first quarter of the year.
''As expected, home sales in the first quarter were markedly improved from a year ago, thanks in large part to the federal homebuyer tax credit, low mortgage rates and available inventory,'' said Duncan R. MacKenzie, New York State Association of Realtors chief executive officer. ''We anticipate that these conditions will also result in a strong sales numbers between April and June as buyers strive to meet the tax credit program deadlines.''
Applications for home mortgage increased 13 percent in the final week of April, according to figures released by the Mortgage Bankers Association as borrowers sought to take advantage of the expiring home purchase tax credits for new and repeat home buyers.
On a seasonally adjusted basis, it was the highest level of purchase applications since the week ending Oct. 2, 2009.
The average rate on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages declined to 5.02 percent in the weekly MBA survey, down from 5.08 percent the week before. Rates on 15-year fixed-rate loans fell to 4.34 percent from 4.38 percent the week before.
Jan Murray, Chautauqua County Board of Realtors executive officer, said the low mortgage rate is one reasons housing sales increased in the county between February and March, increasing 6 percent. She said with the low mortgage rates, there is more confidence among consumers looking for a new home.
''It seems to me that the confidence is coming back,'' she said. ''People are looking at higher-priced vacation homes and vacation homes are a very important part of our market. There is more activity and the outlook is hopefully good.''
Other factors like the unemployment rate and the overall economy is also important in keeping the housing market strong, Ms. Murray said. The unemployment rate in Chautauqua County dropped by .7 percent to 9.2 percent in March.
''The job market is a big, big factor,'' she said.
New York realtors sold 13,973 existing single-family homes in New York State during the 2010 first quarter, an increase of 17.7 percent from the 2009 first quarter. The March sales total of 5,329 was up 31 percent from the February total of 4,068.
Complete data is available at

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