East Texas Housing Market Strong

A bill to help thousands of homeowners facing foreclosure is closer to becoming law. Wednesday, the House passed a multi-billion dollar legislation aimed at helping homeowners and preventing mortgage giants Fannie May and Freddie Mac from going under. The bill is on track to pass the Senate and President Bush is expected to sign it in the next few days.

And great news for East Texans looking to buy or sell a home. According to real estate experts, despite the national mortgage crisis, our local market and economy are still going strong. KLTV 7's Courtney Lane explains.

A foreclosure crisis across the country has painted a dark and gloomy picture for homeowners but according to real estate experts, it's one that's scared East Texans for no reason.

"Don't listen to the national news, the national media hype," said certified mortgage planner, Tim Barnett.  "East Texas is doing very well. The economy's doing very well. You can still get a mortgage."

According to the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M, new home sales are down 26% nationally. But in Texas, sales are up nearly 5%. And while the number of sub prime mortgages has sky-rocketed in major cities, they've actually dropped in Texas.

"Our price per square foot is still relatively low compared to the rest of the country, our cost of living is relatively low," said Bud Summers, President of the Longview Association of Realtors.

And as more people and businesses move in to east Texas, experts say our market is booming.

"We're still seeing a high employment rate, we're seeing a lot of loans going out of the door, still a lot of houses that are moving and selling," said Barnett.

Jonna Goodan is shopping for a new home in Longview. She says if anything, the national mortgage meltdown has taught her to do her homework.

"We're talking about different kinds of mortgages and what we have to spend, because I don't want to find my dream home and then not be able to afford it," said Goodan.

Lenders say they are negotiating more fixed-rate mortgages for home buyers. And despite soaring gas and food prices, they say it is a good time to both buy and sell, with the value of East Texas homes continuing to increase.

Courtney Lane, Reporting  clane@kltv.com