If you’re house hunting, you know this is the time of year to make a deal, especially if you’re a parent who wants to ensure you’ll have time to close the sale and get your children registered in their new schools by September.
And whether you’re rearing children, it’s just you and your spouse or you’re on your own, you know that interest rates are at historic lows — but many leading indicators show the economy is turning around, which means they’re likely to be going up again soon. So it’s a buyers’ market, but that won’t last forever.
Are those enough reasons to get moving and check out your dream home this weekend? Here’s another: It’s Nationwide Open House Weekend, which the Long Island Board of Realtors, of which Queens is a part, is branding “the biggest two-day housing event in the world.”
Now you know it’s time to call your area realtor and take a tour of that house that could be the next place you call home.
“I think everybody’s out this weekend,” said associate broker Michael Lam of Century Homes Realty in Flushing, a member of the board of directors of LIBOR’s Northeast Queens chapter, and its immediate past president. “We’re doing a lot of open houses — a big open house party, sort of.”
“The goal is to make the general public aware that there are some really good houses out there for some really good prices,” said Michael Comuniello of Century 21 Prevete-Bastone in neighboring Nassau County, which also handles some sales in Queens (his partner, Pat Selvaggio, has a listing in Howard Beach right now).
“This is a great time for buyers to buy homes because they can take advantage of low interest rates,” Comuniello continued, explaining that houses are selling at “2004 prices” — but as the economy improves, both prices and interest rates inevitably will rise.
Comuniello and his partner are both associate brokers and certified buyer representatives — which means they can act on behalf of either buyers OR sellers. Even when another broker has a listing, they have the right to show the property to a client.
LIBOR of course wants as many people to join in Open House Weekend as possible. To make it even more enticing, the board will be giving away three gas gift cards worth $250 apiece to lucky potential buyers. One will be given away by LIBOR’s Public Relations Committee in each county where it operates: Queens, Nassau and Suffolk. Realtors will give Open House Weekend attendees the instructions on how to enter the contest, which must be done online by midnight on April 30.
But as nice as $250 in free gasoline will be for three lucky winners, there are much larger savings to be had for those who act now. Not only are interest rates low and prices good, but banks have loosened the criteria for obtaining mortgages and there are new state and federal grants available for certain buyers in certain areas, Lam pointed out — some for as much as $50,000.
“I would say there’s definitely less inventory this year than last year,” Comuniello added. “That means that houses are selling. And historically, springtime is the time for buyers to come out.”