Best time to buy a house in 4 years

 The Cleveland-based bank National City Corp., together with financial analysis firm Global Insight, revealed this week that more than 88 percent of the 330 housing markets surveyed showed price declines and improved affordability during the last three months of 2007.

It may be the best time to buy a house in more than four years. Home prices have dropped so quickly and so far that valuations - the difference between what a home should cost and its actual price - are the lowest they've been since 2004, according to a report."Housing valuations are almost back to long-term norms," said National City's chief economist, Richard DeKaser. He called current affordability "the best in the past four years." There are still 21 housing markets, or six percent of those surveyed, that are severely over-valued, including Atlantic City (NJ) and Madera (CA). That's down from 56 over-valued markets at the peak of the housing bubble in 2006. The report compares actual median home prices with what the authors determine are proper home values based on population density, relative income levels and interest rates, as well as historically observed market premiums or discounts, to determine whether markets are over- or under-valued. The report also factors in market intangibles that make some areas more desirable places to live, and more expensive.

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