Incentives for first time home buyers helping housing market

By Michelle Paynter - bio | email

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - While the economy is still on very shaky ground, financial experts are saying if you have a secure job and money in the bank, now is an excellent time to buy a home.

Jimmy Mabry and his girlfriend Lindsey Lovvorn are first time home buyers.

Mabry is an Army Ranger stationed in Savannah. Lovvorn is studying to be a pharmacist. They both have job security and have decided now is the time to purchase a house.

The home is in the new Stonebridge neighborhood off US Highway 17 in West Chatham County. It's a brand new home and one of the biggest homes they've looked at.

"Probably get a little bit more of a home at a little bit more reasonable price then you could a couple of years ago when the market was booming," Mabry said.

They've also looked at some existing homes in the Georgetown and Bradley Point neighborhoods. They quickly realized they have a lot to choose from and that allows them to be picky about their purchase.

"Everything has its pros and cons," said Mabry. "Some are a little bit of a further drive, some we'd have to do some work to but pay a little less, some are foreclosures."

So why are Mabry and Lovvorn buying a house now? "The two big things for me were the interest rates and tax credit," Mabry said. "Two big things, kind of too good to pass up."

Interest rates for a 30-year mortgage are averaging just under five percent, the lowest they've been since the 1950s.

A tax credit of up to $8,000 is now available for qualified first time home buyers who purchase a home by the end of November of this year.

Mabry and Lovvorn's realtor Justin Singletary, said these incentives are helping to boost the housing market.

"With these tax incentives and low interest rates it brings more people to buy so that's going to help people sell their homes," Singletary said.

In fact, the company he works for, Century 21/Fox Properties, has a had a closing every day this month. That's twice as many as in November.

"That's a great indicator the market seems to be picking up right now," Singletary said.

He said he's tries to educate his clients about a home's value. "What the house should be sold at, what's a good market value so they know what's a reasonable offer," he said.

And he encourages his clients to set a price limit and not go over it. "We are not in a big hurry, it's something we are taking our time with," he said. "It doesn't need to be done tomorrow."

This couple says they want to make a smart decision in this still uncertain economy.

Singletary said in general homes in west Chatham County homes, including Berwick and Pooler and Georgetown, are selling better than average.

Homes that are faring the worst are downtown Savannah and Tybee Island.

And realtors said, the most expensive homes, $600,000 are more aren't budging. They said that because people in the upper tax bracket have the most money invested in the stock market.

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