Home prices remain low, as supply exceeds demand across the U.S. In addition, the National Association of Realtors reports that pending U.S. home prices declined on a monthly basis by 5.5% in April (although home sales are up over April 2011).
The NAR's chief economist, Lawrence Yun, implies that buyers may want to strike while the iron is hot -- and prices are low. He says that the April numbers represent a short-term dip, and that the long-term fundamentals in the housing market are actually fairly sound if Congress and the White House can get their financial act together.
"Home contract activity has been above year-ago levels now for 12 consecutive months," Yun says in a May 30 press release. "Housing market activity has clearly broken out at notably higher levels and is on track to see the best performance since 2007. All of the major housing market indicators are expected to trend gradually up, but a new federal budget must be passed before the end of the year for the economy to continue to move forward."
With 30-year fixed mortgage rates once again under 4% (they're at 3.84% this week, according to the BankingMyWay National Mortgage Rates tracker), maybe it really is a good time to buy.
If so, don't go in with blinders on. The mortgage process is loaded with tripwires and potholes that can derail the best-intentioned and most frugal homebuyer.