Saturday, February 23, 2008

Advantage: Home buyer

If you happen to be shopping for a home this weekend, I hope you're armed with our Saturday Real Estate guide.

"It's a great time to buy'' might sound like an enticing advertising slogan -- and, yes, this bulging 48-page section is an advertising supplement of the Bradenton Herald and Lakewood Ranch Herald. Our advertising department worked with Manatee Realtors to produce this special edition that includes updates on the market, tips on finding the right home and the weekend's best deals.

All you need to do is look at the housing prices, the volume of listings, and the special weekend pricing packages -- like Wagner Realty's 10 percent off Red Tag sale -- to know that there are some very strong motivators in place to spark a housing market comeback.

The cover photo is for a house priced at $178,800 -- a number that was virtually impossible to find for a single-family home two years ago in Manatee County. There are 4 1/2 pages of Open House listings and a color double-truck map of Parade of Homes properties. And plenty of Realtor listings so you can have professional assistance in your search.

The debate continues about whether the local market has bottomed out after a record spike in housing prices that left many would-be buyers out of the equation. But most experts agree if we're not there today, we're close to a turning point where values begin to rise again. And that means homes purchased now very likely will appreciate in value over the next few years.

If you're a bargain hunter like I am, you're out there looking this weekend.


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