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Low prices and interest rates mean it is a good time to buy in the US

It is the fact that prices are at decade lows and interest rates are at historic lows that makes the market so attractive, according to says Margaret Kelly, chief executive officer of RE/MAX, the leading global real estate franchisor with more than 80,000 sales associates in 80 countries.
She sees the market improving in 2012, but there are some outside factors that could possibly slow the recovery.

‘This year a crisis like the European debt situation could trigger inflation and send mortgage rates up, or prices could rise. This is the year many people will look back and wish they had bought a home because these conditions aren't going to last forever,’ she explained.

With an extensive background in housing finance and a new position on the board of the Kansas City Federal Reserve, Kelly has access to the best available data but she does not pay much attention to national real estate figures.

She believes that buyers and sellers ought to realise that real estate statistics vary widely from community to community. Since there is no such thing as a national real estate market, she considers the dissemination of national data misleading to the public.

She reckons the best thing is to talk to an agent in your area. Also RE/MAX publishes its own monthly housing report covering 53 metropolitan markets across the nation. It its most recent version, November home sales were 8.1% higher than November 2010, the fifth consecutive month to show a year on year sales increase.

At the same time, the number of homes for sale, or inventory, continued to fall for the 17th straight month. November home prices were 1.4% higher than October, making it the fifth month in 2011 that prices have risen month on month. However, home prices remained 4.2% lower than prices in November last year.

‘Markets are stabilising. Rates are low for buyers. Investors are accounting for 20 to 25% of sales and foreign buyers are accounting for $82 billion in sales,’ she said.

‘There is a huge pent up demand for home ownership. Home ownership rates will rise because even in the minds of the majority of renters, the American dream of home ownership is still very much alive. It's an incredible time to buy and if you don't, you just might regret it,’ she added.