When you read data about the housing market, or I should say if you read that data, it's important to realize it is a combination of data from all over the country, as well as a combination of all price ranges. Some areas and price ranges may be up, while others are down.

That makes it difficult to figure out if the time is right to buy. Here are five indicators that should be used before making the plunge:

Employment Statistics

Hey, if you don't have a job, you can't get a mortgage. Find out about jobs in the area; the Bureau of Labor Statistics will give you data about job growth in the area, and it isn't a lagging indicator. Also, you may want to find out if personal income in the area has gone up for the past six months, another indicator the local economy is doing better. To get that data go to www.bea.gov.

Recent Sales

Obviously, one of the best meaures of home buying. Check out inventory levels at the Census Bureau, if they've decreased lately in your area. You might want to look at current inventory levels and compare them to long-term averages to make sure they are coming down.


Finding out the number of permits issued for a certain area is a great way to determine if activity is picking up. Perhaps this is not as reliable as some of the other indicators due to the fact the builder may decide not to build after all.

Mortgage Availability

While the large national banks have been less eager to lend, you may find some local banks are looser with their money becasue they weren't hurt so bad during the last crisis. Check them out in your area.

Anecdotal Evidence

This is a rather catch-all area. After you've gathered the hard evidence from above, knock on doors in the neighborhood in which you're thinking of buying. Ask owners if there's been a lot of recent activity. Ask realtors who sell in the area if there's been a recent uptick in sales. This will confirm all the data you collected in the previous steps.

Now is a good time with interest rates so low. That helps immensely when it comes to monthly payments.

Perhaps this is the time you start looking and doing some research. Let me hear about the information you collect about your area.