Lower rates, higher prices

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 13, 2012

With mortgage rates again at historic lows and the availability of new financing options now is the time to buy a new home, said Donna Raines, president of the Covington County Board of Realtors.

On Thursday, the average rate for a 15-year, fixed-rate mortgage hit a record low of 3.88 percent for the week, according to Freddie Mac. The rate fell .10 percent from the previous week and is .01 percent below the previous 30-year mortgage rate record of 3.87 set in February.

Which is good news for buyers and sellers, alike, Raines said.

“The scene is much different this time this year than just a year ago,” Raines said. “Rates are low. You can get financing ­without any money down now, which was not the case a year ago. Alabama rural housing financing has a program that will help you get in a home. There’s an extra tax credit with it, too.

“Then, there’s a program for first time homebuyers, and there’s what they call a mortgage credit certificate available to some buyers, and that’s a credit on top of your regular credit for mortgage interest for the life of the loan.

“So, yes – now is the time to buy,” she said.

In Covington County, the number of homes on the market is down slightly as of Thursday from 134 new listings to 113. The average sold price was up – from $81,300 in 2011 to $90,229, as was the number of days on the market, which increased from 190 in 2011 to 234 as of Thursday.

“It’s really a much different picture than this time last year,” Raines said. “In Andalusia, we’ve seen tremendous growth in the market. While the number of days on the market inside Andalusia increased from 115 to 186, the average selling price was at $69,691 this time last year and has jumped up to $105,745.”