This could be one of the best times ever to buy a house in South Jersey.
Interest rates are near historic lows, falling below 4 percent in December for the first time since early 2013, according to Freddie Mac. And although home prices have started to rise slightly in Atlantic and Cape May counties, they were still a full 25 percent lower in Atlantic County last year than they were in 2006. Cape May County’s prices are down 18 percent from that peak year.
Lenders are accepting down payments as low as 3 percent, down from a prior low of 5 percent. And there’s plenty of supply to feed any demand in this buyer’s market — although many local owners are either underwater on their mortgages or in foreclosure.
Matt Dice, of Shore Living Realty in Ocean City, suggests that this combination of factors “has created a space in time that may never be seen again.” He predicts buyers “will be amazed at how cheaply they bought (a home) when they look back five to 10 years from now.”
Many buyers have been advised to avoid the potential headaches of short sales, but to Dice, those who are flexible on time — and can find homes that have been through part of the process — can get great deals. He was in on a short sale last month in which a home sold for 50 percent of what it last sold for in 2008.
Bill Malamut, of Greentree Mortgage in Pleasantville, added that comparing today’s interest rates to rental prices can be a great reason for first-time buyers to start looking for homes.
“If you’re paying $1,200 a month in rent, you could pay a $1,200 mortgage and buy a $150,000 house,” Malamut said.
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