Experts: Home ownership options still exist | SierraSun.com
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Experts: Home ownership options still exist

Joanna Hartman
Sierra Sun

Buying a home in North Tahoe-Truckee has been touted as impossible, but local brokers and real estate agents say they can make it a reality for some.

“Today there are more options than there have ever been in the real estate market,” said Kathy Harry, broker and branch manager at Prudential California Realty Truckee. “It’s a good time to buy because there are a lot of programs, loan products and properties out there. It’s as good as it’s ever been.”

Because the North Shore and Truckee are resort communities, median home prices are higher than other areas in Placer and Nevada counties. But agents say the market is stable right now, making it a good time to buy.

Prices have dropped “and there are some deals out there,” Harry said.

New financing options such as 40-year and second mortgages and credit reports that don’t verify income are helping local people buy their first homes.

“You have to be creative sometimes, and in this market you have to be more creative,” Harry said.

Siblings, business partners and good friends are joining forces to combine incomes to afford a house. Because of the rise in real estate prices, co-purchases are more common now than before.

Christy Curtis, president of the Tahoe Sierra Board of Realtors and a real estate agent for Coldwell Banking, remembers buying her first home. Even in the 1960s she had to ask for help to purchase her place for less than $70,000 in Glenshire.

“Thank goodness for our parents,” she said.

But that was before options for 100 percent financing and longer-term mortgages.

Curtis recently worked with a schoolteacher whose parents co-signed a loan to get her into her first house. It was a winning situation for all parties, she said.

Affording a home has more to do with credit scores, comfortable monthly payments and appropriate financing for specific scenarios than anything else.

“I do think that the agents are right in attempting to have people look at their individual situations,” said Linda Whitham with Partners Mortgage. “People should be exploring all of their options before discarding that.”

Other benefits of buying a home include tax breaks, pride in ownership, financial appreciation and equity.

And while lenders are making offers that help first-time homebuyers, doling out adjustable interest rates to people with shaky credit could eventually work against them.

As home prices have stopped appreciating or have fallen in places across the country, interest rates have gone up. And some borrowers can’t keep up with the mortgage payments, thereby falling onto the shoulders of the lenders.

But local agents are hopeful.

“I think the public needs to know that there are still some potentials out there for them,” said Harry.

– The Associated Press contributed to this article.


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