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The New Rules of Real Estate

Rates on a 30-year fixed mortgage have plummeted to 4.85 percent – the lowest they have been on record. With the real estate market showing some signs of life, is it time for new homebuyers hesitant about the market to finally take the plunge?

The low prices and interest rates are hard to resist, sure, but it is not indicative that the real estate market has turned the corner. As long as prices are still falling, we haven’t hit bottom.

But the fact that more people are out there looking is a welcome sign, says Dolly Lenz, vice chairman of top real estate broker Prudential Douglas Elliman. The ways to tell if your local real estate market is seeing more action are simple, she says. Just by being cognizant of indicators such as a drop in ‘for sale’ signs and an uptick in attendance at open houses. If you pay attention to the signs, you will be able to tell how the market around you is faring.

Of course, the “best and most real” sign that the housing market in your neighborhood is firming up is if you make a bid for a house and it gets rejected, Lenz says.

Kelly Campbell, a certified financial planner based in northern Virginia, says the market there is benefiting from a surge in refinancing with interest rates so low. People are taking the same payment and putting more toward their principal, according to Campbell.

Julie Casserly, a CFP based in Chicago, says she sees a lot more couples and families taking advantage of rental prices rebounding by rying to rent their current places and buy homes they see themselves in for the long term.