Housing market ripe for the picking

TUPELO – When it comes to the housing market, experts have one piece of advice – strike while the iron is hot.
“This is definitely a buyer’s market right now,” said Leslie Pettey, mortgage loan officer at BancorpSouth.
“Now is a great time to buy a home in Tupelo. There are a wide range of pre-existing homes that are on the market right now.”
Pettey was among those dispensing advice Saturday at the 2009 Northeast Mississippi Credit Seminar and Homebuyers Workshop. Speakers provided tips and guidance on a wide range of topics, such as keeping a good credit score and applying for housing grants, to a large crowd.
“We’ve been doing this four years and this is our biggest turnout,” said Chip Ashford, manager of BancorpSouth’s Lakeshire branch. “People want to know where they stand in the housing market.”
The interest in home-buying is reflected in the uptick in sales. Statistics released by the National Association of Realtors show pending home sales are up for the fifth consecutive month – the first time that has happened in six years.
One reason for the activity is a federal tax credit of up to $8,000 for first-time homebuyers, defined as people who have not purchased a home in the past three years.
Experts say the tax credit, as well as incentives for green amenities, historically low mortgage interest rates and a good selection of affordable homes make it a good time to buy a home.
Among those at Saturday’s workshop were James Conley and his wife, Cheryl. They have been in the process of purchasing a home for the past year but have run into a variety of financial roadblocks.
“We have gone through so much trying to buy a home that we just don’t know where we stand right now,” said James. “First we had a low credit score, so we paid some things off to get that up. Then I wasn’t on my job long enough. Just one thing after another and most of it comes from not understanding the system, but hopefully this workshop will put us on the right path.”
Ashford said the high turnout at the workshop – sponsored by the bank, WTVA, USDA, Rural Development, the Neighborhood Development Corporation and Lamar Outdoor Advertising – was a sign that people were ready to take advantage of the market.
“They want to know what to do to get a home and to keep it when they get it,” he said. “These workshops go far beyond just telling people what they have to do to get a home. It tells them how to maintain that home and how to manage their personal finances so they can’t prevent foreclosure.”
Malcomb Anderson already owns a home, but he attended to get information about how to improve his credit score.
“The economy has taken a toll on my household,” he said. “I’ve gotten behind on some things that I need to work on getting back on track. I hope to learn some things to help me.”
Ashford said the best thing to do before purchasing a home is to plan for it.
“You have to make sure everything is in order,” said Ashford. “You do that and you should have no problems.”

Contact Danza Johnson at (662) 678-1583 or danza.johnson@djournal.com

Tips for buying a new home
-Make sure you’re ready to purchase a home
-Find the right real estate agent
-Make sure your credit score allows you to obtain a mortgage loan
-Select the type of mortgage loan that is best for you
SOURCE: www.homebuyinginstitute.com

•For more information on the First-Time Home Buyers Tax Credit go to http://www.irs.gov

Danza Johnson/NEMS Daily Journal

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