You're probably hearing how bad the real estate market is right now. It seems to be a big topic on all the news channels. Have you also been thinking that now might be a good time to purchase a home in the St. Clair area, but you just aren't sure?

Here are six tips to give you some food for thought in deciding whether to buy a house in the current housing market.

1.  As I mentioned, the housing market is not at its best but rather somewhat stagnant at this point in time. However, the price of renting a home is on the rise. Demand for rentals has increased, due to foreclosures and little new construction, making a nice low-priced rental harder to find. Experts are predicting that the price to rent a home will increase by 5 percent through 2012. But the good news for buyers is that home prices are not increasing right now.

2.  Mortgage rates are at all-time lows. Current rates in the St. Clair area are running at 4.25 percent for a 30-year fixed mortgage and 3.57 percent for 15-year fixed mortgages. Interest rates are expected to rise slightly during 2012 and beyond.

3.  Home prices are now moving from the steeply falling prices we've seen recently to a more stable level. This means that if you buy a St. Clair home at today's prices, you shouldn't see a big drop in the home's value.

4.  Tougher lending standards will probably make qualifying for a mortgage more difficult in the coming years as the mortgage market moves out of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae's hands.

5.  Yes, foreclosures are rampant in Nevada, California and Arizona, but not so much in St. Clair, so there are more homes available as regular sales, which means no agonizing over when or if your bid on a foreclosure will be accepted.

6.  There are fewer serious buyers as your competition at this time, so it's unlikely you'll get into a bidding war trying to get an acceptance from the seller of your dream home.

Overall, it seems to me that now is a very good time to buy a home, especially for first-time homebuyers who don't already have a home they must sell. The market has great homes to offer at great prices, and mortgage rates are low, home values are not falling as they were, and your competition is more limited.

So have you made up your mind that now is a great time to buy? Do you need some help in finding that perfect home? Give me, Scott Hickinbotham, a call at 636-629-3419 or contact me online.