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W.Va. Realtors head says great time to buy homes

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- It's never been a better time to buy a home, according to an official from the state Association of Realtors.

West Virginia is consistently near the 80th percentile when it comes to home ownership, said Raymond Joseph, association executive vice president.

Because of that fact, he said, the state never has a home ownership boom -- or a bust.

When the housing bubble bust happened nationally from 2005 to 2007, West Virginia wasn't really affected because people aren't flocking to move in or move out. The bust was a period in which people were buying and selling their homes at record lows. Foreclosures increased to crisis levels.

"If you're looking at a graph, you would see a steady increase every year and you would see that bust period peak and after a couple years it would drop back down," Joseph said.

Parts of the state, such as the Eastern Panhandle, fall in line with national trends because of their proximity to Washington, D.C. and other metro areas.

Joseph said other parts of the state, such as Parkersburg, frequently experience a buyer's market, because there are a lot of good houses being built there. Charleston, he said, runs pretty steady and is usually always experiencing a good time to buy or sell a home.

"It's one of the more stable markets in the state," Joseph said.

Joseph said 2012 was a good year for realtors. In the first quarter, about 2,400 homes were sold statewide. That number rose to about 3,300 homes in the second quarter and dropped a little to 3,000 homes by the third quarter. The year closed out with about 2,800 homes sold in the 4th Quarter.

He said the first quarter is always the worst for home sales because it's the height of winter weather. In turn, more people take advantage of the summer and spring to sell their homes in the second quarter.

"I think that has a lot to do with people not wanting others to traipsing snow and mud through their homes," he said.

He said it's also a good time for first-time homebuyers because they are eligible for more tax credits than in previous years.

The West Virginia Housing Development Fund does a lot of work with banks to secure tax credits for new buyers, he said.

Reach Travis Crum at travis.crum@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5163.


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