Tips on buying as housing market recovers

A 'Home for Sale' sign points to an existing single-family residence for sale in Park Ridge, Ill.

The National Association of Home Builders says builder sentiment is at the highest level in six years. So what if you want to get into the housing market right now?

Well, it is a great time to buy, says Paddy Hirsch, senior producer of personal finance at Marketplace, with the rare combination of low prices and low interest rates.

"The problem is," according Hirsch, "if you need to get a loan, you're still going to have problems, because banks still have very, very high credit standards."

There's also a lot of competition in the market right now, especially thanks to all-cash buyers and speculators, who buy up homes to then rent them out.

"A lot of the time, if you're a seller, you look much more kindly on someone who's coming to you with an all-cash deal, rather than someone who is coming with a loan," Hirsch adds. That's because there's less risk, and the deals close faster.

Still, there are some great homes to find. Both short sales and forecloszures can be found on sites like Redfin or Zillow.

But in the case of foreclosures, your best bet is to find a dedicated foreclosure agent because they have the inside track and they often know about listings before they're made public. You can do this by seeing who the listing agent is on foreclosed homes, because banks like to do things with a sole agent, rather than spreading the love. Or you can look for a database of foreclosed homes and see who the agent is.

About the author

Paddy Hirsch is a Senior Editor at Marketplace and the creator and host of the Marketplace Whiteboard. Follow Paddy on Twitter @paddyhirsch and on facebook at www.facebook.com/paddyhirsch101

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