Home ownership has historically been one of the best investment an individual could make.

After decades of what seemed like automatic increases in home value, the national and most local markets became overpriced. Over the past few years, the painful process of finding a realistic price level has resulted in some people who purchased their home at the top of the market seeing losses.

Homeowners who were planning to sell high may see a smaller payday, but for most folks who own a home, it is still worth significantly more today than when they bought it. Realtors are increasingly optimistic that we are near the bottom of the market and may be starting to move higher from here.

Local Realtors, like Melinda Feaster of Coldwell Banker SKS Realty, report that sales this year are better than last and that hopes for the future are bright. In Bedford County, many first-time homebuyers have been attracted by an $8,000 credit being offered by the federal government and homes in the under $200,000 range are moving steadily.506_Fotolia_1356884_X

Another factor driving the market is low mortgage rates which have hovered in this historically low range now for a few years. Sales of homes at the upper end of the market continue to be weak with time on the market being much longer than typical.

Bedford County building permits fell slightly in 2008 from 2007 levels, to 103 single family homes – a 3.7% decrease compared to the prior year. The average permitted construction value was $150,782 in 2008, which is a decrease from the average value of $157,984 in 2007 and $170,231 in 2006 – reflecting a shift toward more conservative homes in this economic climate.

Sales of lots for building sites continue to be strong – another suggestion that the future looks bright for Bedford County. All o the reasons why Bedford County real estate has been attractive continue to be true; quality schools, safe neighborhoods, reasonable prices and great locations. With low interest rates, government incentives and low prices, there may never be a better time to own a piece of Bedford County’s future.