CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Low mortgage rates and increased home values lead some local banking officials to believe the time to buy a home is now.
Don Merlo, managing partner with Express Mortgage, added that interest rates could begin to climb in 2014.
"So people need to take advantage of this," Merlo said. "Rates are low right now, but they could turn around anytime with a change in the country's fiscal policy."
The 30-year-fixed interest rate is currently hovering around 3.5 percent, said David Rathbun, senior director of loan origination for the West Virginia Housing Development Fund.
Although this is up slightly from the 3.25 rate from earlier in 2012, it still can equal substantial savings for homebuyers, Rathbun said.
Rathbun does not believe interest rates will begin to decline anytime in the near future, but unlike Merlo he does not believe they will increase within the next two years.
"I think they'll stay the same," he said.
The real estate market in the Kanawha Valley and, actually, in much of West Virginia, has remained stable throughout the recession and the rupture of the housing bubble, Rathbun said.
However, the Eastern Panhandle did see a significant decline in the housing market.
"But it's coming back there now," he said.
Although interest rates are still hovering around their lowest points ever, most of the people approaching the West Virginia Housing Development Fund offices are doing so to refinance their homes rather than purchase one, Rathbun said.
In 2012, the quasi-state agency provided state 1,500 loans, he said. He estimated that 35 percent were to first-time homebuyers and 50 percent were to owners who wished to refinance.