Whatever the Situation, Make the Most of Your Investment.

The end of 2010 brought about record low mortgage rates in our industry, and home affordability still remains at an all-time low. The combination of low prices, cheap mortgages, and a slowly improving job market should gradually entice buyers back to the market, but in the meantime, there are things that you can do to make sure you are making the most of your current financial situation.

• For buyers, the spring season is the best time to look for new homes; with fresh starts and positive changes abound throughout your neighborhood, it’s a great time to get out and look at homes. With the winter weather long gone, many owners are motivated for a change of scenery, so you may be able to find a great home that wasn’t available a few months back. Like any industry, the real estate market has a particular time of year when more people buy. Spring is generally favored because families can find a home, complete the sale and move in before the next school year begins. It is also a great time for people to buy a vacation home they can enjoy during the summer months.

•If you are one of those people craving a change of scenery and looking to sell, pricing your home correctly is the key. Buyers typically put an upper limit on their search in increments of $25,000 or $50,000. For instance, if your house is priced at $365,000, shoppers who cut their search at $350,000 may never see your home. You may be better off at slightly under pricing your property, as more often than not you’ll attract numerous buyers who bid up the price, and you’ll end up getting fair value in much less time. For investors out there, foreclosures are still available and at great pricing. If you are ready to make the right offer, paying in cash will better the odds of a winning bid.

• For the owners that are staying put, keep yourself open to refinancing—even if you just refinanced a few years ago, if you can shave at least one point off your rate and plan to stay in your home for at least four years, a refinance makes sense. Refinancing can save you hundreds of dollars per month and much more than that in interest. Even refinancing to a shorter term loan can be very beneficial if you can afford it; the best way to build equity would be refinancing to a 15-year-fixed loan from a 30-year-fixed, as it will truly help you in the long run. Your monthly payment will jump up, but the additional equity you’ll build will be significant, you will actually own your home years earlier than you would have with a longer program and save thousands of dollars in interest.