As mortgage rates have dropped in recent weeks, area lenders and real estate agents said they have noticed a slight uptick in the number of people looking to get into the property market.
For Sean Gannon, he was in the right place at just the right time.
The 23-year-old new homeowner found that new place on Hudson Avenue in the Villas section of Lower Township in May, taking advantage of interest rates on the decline.
“It was definitely a pretty good incentive,” Gannon said. “We weren’t in any big rush to jump on it and said if a good deal came our way, we’d take it. And that’s what we did.”
Fueled by the European debt crisis, mortgage rates fell again this week to near-record lows. Rates on 30-year fixed mortgages dropped to 4.72 percent, the lowest level of the year and just above the record low of 4.71 percent.
“We have seen an increase in applications based upon the lower interest rates,” said Matt Patterson, president of Superior Mortgage in Hammonton.
Patterson said the lower rates have not only piqued prospective homebuyers’ interest, but encouraged others to refinance.
“Refinancing makes sense now because monthly savings would justify the refinancing costs,” he said.
Patterson said enthusiasm has been tempered, though, by competing factors. For one, he said, approval criteria for lending has stiffened due to the housing crisis.
That’s a good thing on one hand, Patterson said, because some people who shouldn’t have been buying houses were. On the other hand, he felt the criteria have overcompensated for the problem and shut out people who should be approved.
At the same time, appraised values of homes have dropped, also discouraging people from refinancing.
Joseph Wiessner, of Hammonton-based Wiessner Realty, also pointed to the expiration of first-time homebuyer tax credits as lessening what would have otherwise been increased attention to the market.
“We’ve seen a lull in calls,” he said, adding that he thought more people would be looking into buying if they didn’t feel like they are now owed tax credits.
For Gannon, he and his fiancee simply felt the timing was right.
Gannon, a mechanic at Snug Harbor Marina in Cape May, had been looking for a house for about a year. He finally found a three-bedroom, one-bathroom rancher on Hudson Avenue and closed on it just a few weeks ago.
He said his agent at Superior Mortgage, Noah Patterson, Matt Patterson’s son, helped him get a much lower rate than he expected at first.
Now he plans to take advantage of the near-record-low rate as he fixes up his new place.
“It’s in a great little location, with a nice piece of land, and great neighbors,” Gannon said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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