Recapping ‘an unbelievable year’ in real estate

Rates kept housing's bright light burning

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Housing – and the funds related to it – again remained one of the few bright lights during a rather dim economic year. In fact, mortgage interest rates, which did not rise to the levels predicted by many analysts, clearly emerged as the top story on the 2003 real estate landscape. Rates continued to be a fallback lifesaver, while helping consumers see that property could be a viable, reliable alternative to the conventional financial markets. Not only did a consistently low interest rate picture allow first-time buyers to continue a realistic search for home ownership, but it also provided a terrific avenue for cash-strapped families to tap into home equity. And, potential second-home buyers and investment property investors tended to look to real estate sooner because of low interest rates and volatile nature of the stock market. Peter Struck, director of portfolio management for Washington Mutual Bank, said 2003 was a record buster year with interest rate levels we ...