CINCINNATI - Sarah Zamary spent part of Monday afternoon touring a Symmes Township house with Sibcy Cline realtors Jens and Dede Persson.
The Indian Hill resident is considering the Cummings Farm Lane property to provide more space for her growing family and said she believes this is the right time to buy.
"We feel like the market is now back," she said. "We feel we can get a decent price for our old home and we're going to be able to get a great value for our new home."
Zamary's enthusiasm is the kind of activity that continues to drive Greater Cincinnati home sales.
The Cincinnati Area Board of Realtors reported a 19 percent increase in sales in October compared to a year ago. The Northern Kentucky Association of Realtors said sales were up 4.6 percent in the same period. It's the 16th consecutive month of increases in Cincinnati and the 15th in a row for Northern Kentucky.
Home prices continue to increase as well.
The average selling price in Cincinnati is up six percent to $151,768 and up four percent in Northern Kentucky to $146,909.
"Improved home affordability in turn helps boost consumer confidence," said Tom Hasselbeck, Cincinnati Area Board of Realtors President. "That, along with an anticipated increase in housing inventory, could bode well for a favorable 2013."
One of the main reasons Zamary is looking is because interest rates for a 30-year loan range between 3.0 and 3.25 percent. That's down from 4.28 percent a year ago.
"We've never seen interest rates this low in my lifetime and we probably won't again," she said. "It would be a real shame not to take advantage of that."
Hasselbeck said those rates in many cases make it cheaper to buy than rent, since rents are up 5 or 6 percent.
He also acknowledged the housing market could grow larger if lenders would approve loans more quickly.
"The banks are being more cautious today," he said. "What they're doing is validating every piece of documentation and a lot of that slows the process in getting the loan approved."
One thing worrying realtors across the country is the possibility that Congress will eliminate the mortgage interest deduction during negotiations about the "fiscal cliff."
If that's eliminated, Hasselbeck said the housing recovery could be severely impacted.
"People might be reluctant to purchase if they're not going to get that mortgage interest deduction and therefore may elect to rent instead," he said.
For now, though, Jens Persson is seeing a flurry of activity.
"People are coming out of the woodwork," he said. "When we put a house on the market it's almost instant that we get calls on it. A lot of them selling in one or two days."
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