When Jana Sestili and her husband decided to move with their two children to a larger house in the Pittsburgh suburbs, some people thought they were taking a foolish risk. The refrain, says Sestili, was simple: “I don’t know how you’ll do this in this market.” But the couple ignored the doubters and forged ahead anyway. They sold their house for their asking price of $329,000, well above the $213,000 they’d spent to build it nine years ago. And they plowed the proceeds—and then some—into a four-bedroom, $400,000 dream house, complete with an in-ground pool, a brand-new kitchen and 4,500 square feet of living space. “For what’s in the house, we got a great price,” says Sestili, an official with the University of Pittsburgh’s alumni association.
It’s tempting to listen to the neighbors or glance at the latest headlines (foreclosures! falling home sales!) and cower on the sidelines of the real estate bust. But some folks are looking past today’s uncertain economy and concluding that in a number of markets real estate deals are just too good to pass up. Indeed, some housing experts have been arguing for two years now that with the combination of lower home prices and rock-bottom mortgage rates, the cost of buying a home is lower than it has been in years. David Berson, chief economist at the PMI Group, says that during the boom, the median sales price for a U.S. home reached 7.3 times disposable per capita income; today that ratio is five times. “Things are amazingly affordable,” he says.
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