“This bus tour is an opportunity for us to communicate with current and future homeowners and let them know about the resources and opportunities available,” said Sherrie Cartinella, 2011 president of the Reno/Sparks Association of Realtors.
Nevada’s housing market has suffered more than any other as it continues to lead the nation in foreclosures, making it an important stop on the bus tour that began in Chicago, has already traveled through 33 states and which heads to San Francisco today.
“Home ownership, as I think all of you know, in Nevada is the lowest in the country,” said Secretary of State Ross Miller during the tour stop at Reno’s Summit Mall. “We are working diligently to try to improve that.”
The vitality of the housing market is key to jumpstarting the nation’s economy, officials on hand said, which is why it is necessary to keep the issue of ownership front and center.
Improvement in the housing market will help lead the country out of the recession, creating new jobs and growing the construction industry, said Kevin Sigstad, president-elect of the Reno/Sparks Association of Realtors.
Of course, the housing bubble, created in part by government promotion of homeownership, helped create the economic climate that led to the recession.
And when the bubble burst, so did the dreams of tens of thousands of Americans.
But with stringent new financing rules in place, prospective homeowners need to be educated on the resources available to them in the current buyer’s market.
For example, the Nevada Rural Housing Authority offers a Home at Last program that provides free down payment assistance for prospective buyers and working families.
Moreover, on Monday President Obama appeared in Las Vegas saying he would issue an executive order to allow qualified homeowners to refinance their mortgages regardless of how much their houses have lost in value.
According to a report from Bloomberg Businessweek, “The Federal Housing Finance Agency will enhance the Home Affordable Refinance Program by eliminating some fees, reducing others and waiving some risk for lenders. The agency is lifting the previous limit on aid to homeowners on mortgages no greater than 125 percent of the value of the property.”
“I think it’s going to work out really well,” Sigstad said of the program.
One bright side for the local housing market is the continued record sales in recent months as home prices remain exceptionally low.
In September, 176 homes sold in Sparks at a median sales price of $144,475. Additionally, months of inventory for Sparks are at 6.2 months — a sign of a buyer’s market — and interest rates remain incredibly low.
“The American dream of home ownership is very much alive even though the rules are changing,” Miller said. “But obviously we have our work cut out for us. Terms like short sale and foreclosures, which were alien to people just a few years ago, have become all too common.”