Cindi gave you some great information, and I believe you will be in a good position even in a year to make your purchase, but do know there are some indicators that rates may go up in the summer, but no guarantees, keep an eye on them.
Use your time wisely to become a smart buyer, start doing real estate home work. Get a good Buyer's "Guide from a Realtor (I have some if you need one), go to some H&G shows, I will have a booth in one coming up soon, let me know soon if you want some free tickets. Start speaking with a lender to find out what you will need to qualify, knowing lending is changing, and as Cindi mentioned hopefully some seller paid assistance programs will be restarted.
As you progress in your home buying studies, ask a Realtor some questions, to continue to grow and learn. I know one of my main goals is to educate my clients so they become smart buyers and sellers. Then when your target date approaches you will be ready and prepared to make your home purchase with a smooth transaction.
Best of luck and don't hesitate to call with questions,
TV-Tracy Van De Mark
I tend to stay positive when looking at the Real Estate market, especially as it relates to the Antelope Valley. Remember that although we are in what one might consider "uncharted waters", we have gone through something similar to this before. In the early 1990's, the Cold War ended and we here were too dependent on the Aerospace Industry for our jobs, etc. Since then we have diversified our job base quite a lot...lesson learned! There will be lessons learned from this market as well.
There are a few factors to bear in mind also: the usual relationship between loan rates and home prices are oppositional. Meaning that home prices are usually low and loan rates go higher and vise-versa. When I bought my first home in Lancaster in 1989, we paid $150,950.00 which wasn't bad, except for the fact that the best 30 year fixed loan you could get for excellent credit was 10%. Easy math, but painful payment!
Now, as you know, interest rates are back to reasonable, and home prices are at multi-year lows. There is one major thing that may or may not make an impact in the "predictable" market cycle; that is the possible Federal Government intervention to stem the tide of foreclosures and to get the Banks to start making reasonable loans, as well as a recent call to reinstate the downpayment assistance programs, such as the Nehemiah program, etc.
You may want to go to the Home Buyer's Fair on April 18 and 19 at the Los Angeles Convention Center and take a look at some opportunites for first time buyers that may be there. You can go to http://www.homebuyersfair.com for more information. You may also want to contact a reputable lender and find out exactly where you need to be with money and credit to position yourself for a purchase. I would ask friends and family for referrals and then interview them to make sure they explain things to your satisfaction.
Take the postiton that you are hiring them to do a service for you and you need to be completely comfortable with their service and prices, etc. Just as you would if you purchased any service. The same with the Realtor you choose to represent you. Another thing you should make sure of is that you choose a REALTOR, which is different from just Real Estate Agent. There are a code of ethics that Realtors in particular subscribe to.
You may also want to use a Buyer's Agent, rather than just call on each sign you see on a nice-looking house. Those are generally Listing Agents, who are absolutely slammed with all these foreclosure properties and have a hard time returning phone calls. A Buyer's Agent works for you, which helps save you time and effort. They shop the market with your specific needs in mind.
Hope this helps...of course, you can always contact me for further information!
Troth Realtors GMAC Real Estate
1801 W. Avenue K, Suite 101
Lancaster, CA 93534
My opinion is that the housing market will continue to decline for about 1-2 more years, due to the high number of Notice of Defaults filed within the last few months. Also, traditionally California goes through a 5-7 year real estate cycle, and we are in about year 3 of the downward cycle.
I think you have plenty of time to get your finances in order over the next year or so, the only thing you may need to be concerned with is if the interest rates go up, so keep an eye on that.
Please call me if you need any further assistance, Sincerely,
Nancie Kuck Keller Williams Realty AV