Resolving to Buy a Home in 2012? 6 Reasons You'll Pull it Off

New year, new you. That’s the feeling you get when you begin fresh, isn’t it? You take down your 2011 calendar and toss it. You tack up your 2012 calendar, thumb through page after page of blank-slate possibility, and feel…excited. Empowered! You assess where you are and where you want to be. You resolve to make changes and set goals. There is something deeply, psychologically, important about January.

But it’s not just psychological if, like me, one of your resolutions is to stop paying rent. Forget resolving to go the gym more often. We can set up a home-gym in our own house and enjoy a workout anytime, without the bad music and sweaty guys who leave wet streaks on our weight bench! Because we have at our fingertips much information that supports the decision to buy this winter, information that makes our choice not just an emotional one, but a logical one as well.

Nationally, real estate analysts have offered cautious hope that 2012 could be the year things get better for the industry. As buyers, this news offers both blessing and curse: we’re blessed if we buy and immediately see our investment was a good one. But we’re cursed if we wait for prices to bottom out and instead they rise. So how do we decide if now is the time to buy?

Here’s are 6 Reasons ZipCode thinks buyers will show up in 2012

1. The interest rate on loans is at a record low, and in an election year, should stay there.

2. Rents are up. MSN Real Estate wrote that 2011 was the “end of the renter’s market,” with rents in some cities increasing 10% or more. And when rents become more expensive than a mortgage would be—and this is the case for me, in Portland OR, where homes for sale right now are listing for less than they did in 2008-- we have to seriously reassess our situations.

3. Prices are low right now. Even the news from RealtyTrac that foreclosures will rise before 2012 ends can be seen as positive, from the buyer’s perspective. Distressed properties can generally be purchased at deep discounts, so their continued availability will work on our favor.

On the other hand, ZipRealty Realtors are reporting are bidding wars on REO/bank-owned properties as people become more aware of how to buy these properties, and aware too that the investment potential they offer isn’t likely to get better. Again, this information motivates us buyers to get out in the field and play ball.

4. Though this year will be anything but traditional, spring has traditionally been a better time for sellers, not buyers. In past years, buyers have done best in winter months, when dreary weather casts a pall over even the most sparkling of homes. But spring brings new life to the seller’s market (for one example, check out what happened with homes for sale in Washington, D.C. in spring of 2011); so, if we’re buyers, our time is now.

But Can We Get a Loan?

The major hurdle we’ll have to get over is the mortgage: sure, the monthly payment could be than your rent, but how do you convince the skeptical bank to approve your loan application? Things may be getting easier in that department too:

5. The Rei Bulletin reports actual loan growth, not shrinkage, in major American banks as 2011 closed. That means even the big dogs, like Wells Fargo and U.S. Bank, are starting to approve more loans.

6 The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has tentatively signified it’s working on a streamlined version of closing documents that should be easier for buyers to read and understand; the agency is “currently testing new versions to determine what works.”

Let’s hope so. Because all the ducks are lining up in a row for more people than ever in this country who want to stop paying rent and start owning a home, even people who never thought they could do so before. It’s a brand new game out there in 2012. Find a Realtor who can be your coach and resolve to win.