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As year comes to an end, message stays same

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Posted: Friday, December 18, 2009 12:00 am

I have just about wrapped up my year here as President for the Lodi Association of Realtors.

The Lodi Association of Realtors has been in existence since 1921 and serves over 2200 members throughout several counties. LAR generously donates time and money to several local charities up and down the central valley.

I have greatly enjoyed my term as president along with being able to write this column each week (only one more to go). Sometimes a labor of love but it has proven to be a great way to keep people apprised of local and national real estate news along with important economic information.

A number of you have e-mailed me throughout the year with thoughts or questions - almost all of you with positive comments. Our real estate market and economy is ever changing and continues to find its way to a new normal. I started off the year talking about 'moving forward' and keeping a positive eye towards the future and I would like to end on the same note.

The economy and housing market seem to ebb and flow from one week to the next with one press release to the next. There is no doubt we face some uncertainties going forward on all fronts. I don't want to get overly philosophical here; however, it is important to look at what is going right rather than what is going wrong.

Federal Reserve Chairman, Ben Bernanke will be addressing Congress this week and providing the Fed's report on a number of key indicators. The Fed is expected to keep interest rates at their current historic lows - this is not a direct correlation to a lender's interest rate. However, there are a number of factors that come into play keeping them all a part of tangled web. I have had several lenders remind me — even just recently — that they are not directly tied together. The bond market really drives what interest rates you see from your lender — again, a tangled web of bond market traders, speculators and people trying to hedge against what the Fed may or may not do.

The good news for home buyers is that interest rates have and continue to be at historic lows. The Fed has been buying Mortgage Backed Securities (MBS's are a story for another time) — this has been one of the main factors driving the interest rates lower. The Fed will stop this program at the end of the first quarter in 2010 — if you are asking yourself, "Will interest rates go up then?" The answer is: Probably - more than likely. But how much and exactly when? No one really knows, my guess is that this will start to get 'priced' into new loans going forward after the first of the year and will bump up slightly each month in anticipation of the official phase at the end of March. Most analysts believe rates will bump up by about .35 to .50 p ercent total from their current levels. Some doomsdayers will tell you it will be closer to 1 percent. Hard to say what exactly will happen.

My point here is this; if you are sitting on the fence waiting to buy — don't. Rates will go up this spring and the resulting increase will likely 'price' a number of people out of the market.

Thank you again, it has been a privilege to serve as President for our Association. Merry Christmas!

If you have any questions or comments please email me at Ryan Sherman is the President of the Lodi Association of Realtors.

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