COLUMN: It’s still a good time to buy real estate


For every buyer of real estate there must be a seller. While this adage may seem simplistic, it is nevertheless true. I’d like to take the time to clarify what may be a confusion about the current real estate market.

First, the real estate market in Pittsburgh remains strong.

Most of you have heard that there is a tax credit of up to $8,000 for first-time home buyers. You may not be aware that a first-time home buyer is anyone who has not owned a property for the past three years – which opens the door to even more people. To be eligible for this program, you must purchase and close on a home before Nov. 30, 2009.

At open houses, I ask potential buyers and sellers what percent down they need for a mortgage. Most reply 20 percent. This is true for many conventional loans. However, many recent buyers, and most first-time home buyers, qualify and use FHA loans (Federal Housing Administration) where the amount down is only 3.5 percent and all of these funds can be gifted. Also, they can negotiate a 6 percent seller assist to help with the closing costs.

For FHA loans, credit does not need to be perfect and can be a lower score than for conventional loans. The maximum loan amount in Allegheny County for an FHA loan is $327,000. The home also must meet FHA appraisal requirements.

Also, there are new lending requirements. Now more than ever, it is critically important to be dealing with agents and lenders who are knowledgeable and can work with buyers to get the deal closed.
Now, why is this a good time to sell? Because first-time home buyers need a place to buy. There are owners of these homes looking for a new place to live. In order to have the necessary inventory for first-time buyers, we need inventory for the current owners.

It’s important to be savvy in any real estate market, where timely information and skilled negotiation for both buyers and sellers is crucial. Here on the Northside, there are now great homes for sale from $40,000 to $1.2 million. There is a perfect house for everyone right here.


Susan Lee Meadowcroft is a nationally recognized realtor with Coldwell Banker Real Estate Services in their Shadyside office. Meadowcroft is a current resident of the Mexican War Streets.

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