home sales

In many American communities, buying a home is now less expensive than renting. And with the economics tilting in favor of homeownership, many first-time buyers are jumping into the market.

After eight years of renting, Kitsy Roberts and her husband, Janko Williams, are practically giddy about their new Seattle home. And like proud parents, they are eager to show it off, from its historic details to its fresh paint.

Banks are often accused of dragging their feet when a homeowner wants to sell for less than the balance on the mortgage. A lot of those "short sales" might be better dubbed "really long and drawn out" sales. New federal guidelines, though, could now push lenders to approve short sales faster.

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These days home sellers are facing an uphill battle, and qualified buyers are becoming ever pickier. Find out how traffic congestion and pending construction project - even those that benefit the community at large- can impede the sale of a house.

AP

Update Feb. 10, 2011 - The correct percentage of area mortgage holders "underwater" - as reported by Zillow.com - is 34.3%, not of all homeowners. This post has been updated to clarify that point.

Do you owe more on your mortgage than your house is worth? You’re not alone. One-third of homeowners in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties are “underwater” on their homes. "Negative equity" rose faster in this region than anywhere else in the country.

Home sales bumped up in December, in King County.  Analysts disagree over whether it’s sign of an important trend or not.  The Seattle Times calls it the biggest month for home sales since a federal tax credit expired last summer. 

But the Seattle P-I quotes Glenn Crellin of Washington State University as saying the real estate market is likely to stay sluggish for several months or longer: