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Easing interest rates may brighten home-sales market

A much-improved market is shaping up for home buyers and sellers in 1982.

Interest rates on home-mortgage loans will slowly but surely decline during the year. Too, there will be special opportunities in the immediate future for those who use ''creative financing'' concepts.

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That's the optimistic view of many knowledgeable leaders in the area of housing and financing.

''Between now and late spring 1982 we should enjoy gradually moderating interest rates, producing a temporary window for low-cost money,'' says James Christian, chief economist for the US League of Savings Associations.

Another highly respected economist, with an in-depth knowledge of the real-estate market, also points to special opportunities for home buyers in early 1982. Jack Carlson, chief economist of the National Association of Realtors, says:

''There is a bright side to the current market. This is an excellent time to buy a home, particularly if it is financed through an assumption of an existing mortgage or with the seller accepting a first or second mortgage.

''The use of creative financing, which occurs in more than 60 percent of all existing home sales, is reducing the effective mortgage rate to buyers by 3 to 5 percentage points from rates quoted by financial institutions.

''It can reduce the monthly principal and interest payments on a median-priced home by about $200, or 8 percentage points in the average family's budget. That goes a long way toward overcoming the problem of home affordability.''

Some innovative financing plans also have been developed for buyers of newly constructed homes. These plans have the bottom-line effect of reducing financing costs substantially.

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In many cases, builders offer ''buy down'' mortgage loans to finance their new homes. This is a program whereby the builder-developer subsidizes the buyer's loan during the early years - usually the first two to five years of the loan's term.

A more recent plan, tested by several builders last fall, is an interest-free financing program that is totally paid off in five years. The plan is catching on fast, generates a strong incentive for buyers, and gives the builders a tremendous marketing leverage.

A Chicago-area builder, for example, sold 60 single-family homes and condominiums in just three days by offering this highly unusual financing plan: One-third down payment and the balance paid to the builder in 60 monthly installments without interest. A huge amount of interest money is saved by the buyer and he becomes the debt-free owner in just five years.

As for the general outlook for existing (used) home sales during 1982, one economist is particularly specific and optimistic. Phillip E. Kidd, director of economic research for Multi-List/McGraw-Hill, a division of McGraw-Hill Information Systems Company, asserts:

''Sales of existing homes will increase by 20 percent in 1982, compared with sales during the past year. The sales-dollar volume will rise by 29 percent. And interest rates on home-mortgage loans will drop to 13.5 percent within a year.''

Mr. Kidd's projections are based on a combination of factors that now influence the real-estate market. They include the easing of inflation, a more relaxed monetary policy, and the recently enacted tax cuts and savings incentives.

''These influences, in combination, produce a better financial environment for home buying,'' he says. Kidd also sees what he calls a 'unique opportunity' for home buyers in the immediate future.

''An inventory is accumulating of unsold housing in which sellers are willing (or forced) to lower sales prices and to arrange innovative financing at well below market rates.

''During the first quarter of 1982, with the economy in a stupor and likely to stay that way for a while, and with monetary policy a shade less stringent, slippage in mortgage rates will be evident. Inquiries of observant buyers will reveal that 'attractive' housing bargains exist at much-below-quoted rates, if they act promptly.''

Another significant factor that will affect the market in coming months and years relates to demographics. Home buyers will increasingly be first-time buyers, economist Kidd notes.

''People in the first-time home-buying group (age 29-44) now are the largest segment of the population, and numerically they will be at their peak for several years. About three-fifths of the net new households formed in the next five years will be in this age group.''

Those first-time home buyers, as well as seasoned buyers, will need all the help they can find to swing the deal on a home purchase in 1982. But prospects are becoming brighter.

Opportunities are already emerging in the marketplace.

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