The silver lining inside the housing market |

The silver lining inside the housing market

Kirk Caraway / Nevada Appeal
Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal

CARSON CITY ” While the fluctuations in the housing market may have scared off some home buyers, all that fear may be hiding some great opportunities for others.

Jenny Lopiccolo, owner of Coldwell Banker Best Sellers, is one of those trying to convince first-time home buyers that this may be the best time to buy a home.

“I see a great opportunity for first-time home buyers in this market, and I don’t think the word is getting out,” Lopiccolo said.

So, she’s taking matters into her own hands and conducting special informational sessions with first-time buyers to help them understand the current market.

Lopiccolo said one of the best opportunities for first-time buyers is to take advantage of the $7,500 Federal Housing Tax Credit.

The credit is only available on home purchases made before July 1, so time is running out. Congress is currently discussing extending the credit, and increasing it to $15,000, but its future is not certain, according to Lopiccolo.

While some may have heard of this tax credit, Lopiccolo said many don’t know that the definition of “first-time home buyers” means that you haven’t owned a home in three years.

But what about getting a loan? According to Lopiccolo, news of the financial crisis has wrongly convinced many they can’t get loans.

“With the news coverage of the mortgage crisis, many buyers don’t realize that low-cost financing and other benefits are still readily available, especially for first-time buyers,” she said.

Jeanne Rhoades, a mortgage officer who teaches a class for first-time home buyers at Western Nevada College, agrees. She said there are 100-percent-financing loans for first-time buyers in Lyon and Douglas counties through the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development Lending program. And in Carson City and elsewhere, the Federal Housing Administration can finance homes up to 96.5 percent of the cost. And interest rates are extremely low, Rhoades added.

“This is what the government is doing to try to get people back into homes and get them out of the hands of the banks, with affordable interest rates,” Rhoades said.

Dropping home prices because of foreclosures and an oversupply in the market also make it easier to buy than just a couple of years ago, Rhoades said.

“There’s a lot of foreclosed bank-owned homes, and they want them off their books, and they are dropping prices every week, and there are some great deals out there,” she said.

While house payments might be cheaper than rent, buying a home right now may not be the best move for everyone, especially since housing prices have not stabilized.

“For a lot of people it makes sense, others it does not,” Lopiccolo said. “You would not want to venture into the market right now if you were going to be moving on in the short term.”

The WNC program that Rhoades teaches instructs attendees on money management issues and budgeting, to see if they can afford to own a home. She also teaches them about credit scores, and how to get and keep a good score. And she also goes over the various types of loans, and guides attendees through the buying process.

The program Lopiccolo sponsors brings together real estate agents and brokers, escrow agents, lenders and an accountant so prospective buyers can get a full rundown on purchasing a home.

Contact reporter Kirk Caraway at or 881-1261.

Western Nevada College

First Time Home Buyer Workshops

High Tech Center Room 3032, Carson City

6-7:30 p.m. on the following days:

Feb. 10, April 14, May 5

Call 445-4268

Coldwell Banker

Best Sellers

First time home buyers sessions

Feb. 18 and March 18

Sierra Nevada Board of Realtors office

300 S. Curry St., Carson City

RSVP by calling 883-8500