Realtors say now is the time to buy

This is a big weekend for members of the Albany Board of Realtors.

All the stars are aligned and the signs are right for it to be a profitable one.

Realtors will be stationed at more than 50 houses today greeting open house visitors. It's part of a nationwide effort by Realtors.

The Albany Board of Realtors is participating and its members say now is the perfect time to buy and sell.

Ask a real estate salesperson, and many of them will tell you that any time. I've never been a salesperson, but I imagine one of the first rules is to never trash the product you are selling and to always maintain a positive attitude.

The truth of the matter is -- they are telling you the straight truth.

Here's why I think so.

First, the government has made it financially rewarding for some people to sell or buy a home in an effort to kick start the economy.

First-time homebuyers can qualify for a tax credit of $8,000.

Also, those selling their homes may qualify for a $6,500 tax credit.

The sellers must have owned their current home for at least three of the past five years.

But time is running out on this benefit.

To get the money, you must be under contract by April 30 and close on the property no later than June 30.

That's not a lot of time, but there is time to qualify if you get the ball rolling now.

Also, there are numerous signs on the state and national level that the economy is slowly rebounding.

People are more willing to spend money when they sense the economy is good.

There's a good supply of homes for sale in metro Albany. Overall, it's still a buyers' market, so there are deals to be found.

Mortgage rates continue to be at levels that soften the blow of house payments.

But rates are another reason to act quickly.

Nationally, rates have spiked in the past two weeks.

Just last week, the national average for a 30-year loan went to 5.21 percent, up from 5.08 percent a week earlier. Rates had dropped to a low of 4.71 in December.

You can still get a 5 percent loan in metro Albany for a 30-year loan.

I've gone through the home buying experience twice since moving to Albany -- the latest time was last August. I experienced most of the benefits I have listed above.

My real estate agent was professional and went beyond the call of duty.

I was able to get a great interest rate.

The young couple that bought my home qualified for an $8,000 tax credit.

I then bought a house at a fair price.

Everything was just right (closed on both deals the same morning) except I closed just weeks before the $6,500 sellers tax credit was implemented.

Somewhere inserted in today's Herald is a real estate section with specifics on the open houses.