Is 2010 the year to buy a house? It certainly looks that way: After a steep run-up in prices during the first half of the decade, home values have plummeted back to 2003 levels. Fixed mortgage rates are sitting near record lows. And the foreclosure epidemic—while painful for many home owners—has created some wonderful opportunities for bargain hunters. If that’s not enough, Uncle Sam is handing out thousands of dollars in tax credits to nearly all first-time buyers and the bulk of existing home owners who close a purchase by June.
But while the 2010 outlook appears inviting, there’s one key catch. “You need to have a stable job,” says Mark Zandi, the chief economist of Moody’s Economy.com. The economy is showing signs of life, but the unemployment rate is already at 10 percent and expected to go higher. And while those mortgage rates are attractive, buying a house makes sense only if you can bank on your income stream. So before you consider purchasing a home, take a hard look at your job, your company, and your industry.
That said, here are 10 things to know about real estate in 2010:
1. Prices to bottom
2. Mortgage rates going back up by next year
3. Mortgage deliquencies up
4. Foreclosures move upstream
5. Buyer’s market remains
6. Modification plans could be modified
7. FHA lending standards may increase by next year
8. Tax credit available through June
9. Markets will vary a great deal by region
10. Mobile maps can help