Even though the economy is tough these days, there is opportunity for some of us! If you've kept your job at roughly the same pay and hours, and there's no reason to expect any changes , you may be able to get a great deal on a more substantial home in the White Mountains of NH or Western Maine. If you own a starter home, or a home in the best selling range of our area, you're in an excellent position to "move up". Many homes in the mid range market are just sitting, waiting for a buyer. Opportunity knocks! First, determine how much more you may be able to afford. Interest rates are at historic lows. If you haven't refinanced in several years, you may be able to get more home for the same money you're presently paying now. Interest rates are currently at about 4%. If your current loan is at 6% or even more, that could make a big difference in your current borrowing power . A $200,000, 30-year loan costs $1,199/month at 6 percent interest. At 4 percent, that same loan only costs $954. That's nearly $250 less per month. You could actually buy a home for $50,000 more with a slightly lower monthly payment than you currently have now . Of course, if you don't want to move, you might want to consider a refinance of your current home. Another housing expense you want to take into account are your real estate taxes on your current home . From town to town in our valley real estate taxes can vary to a considerable degree. Taxes in the Mount Washington Valley and Western Maine can range from $9.15 per 1000 dollars evaluation to as much as $ 21.78 dollars per thousand . On a $200,000 home, taxes alone could range from $1,830/year to $4,500 /year. If you live in a town with the highest tax rate, you're paying $2,526 more per year, or over $200/month more than the town with the lowest rate. That can give you a lot more borrowing power without increasing your monthly housing expenses. Compare the homes first, then compare the taxes. Moving up doesn't necessarily mean buying a larger home. You could buy a home in a more convenient location for your family needs, or have a mountain view, more privacy, better amenities, or a higher quality home. In our valley mid-range homes have been discounted substantially more than starter homes and there is a better selection too. In a stronger market, mid-range homes sell for substantially more. Moving to a home in the $225,000 and up range in this area generally means a substantial discount in value when compared to starter homes. To take advantage of the opportunities in a down market, it's time to look at your loan, your taxes, and properties that are in slower moving price ranges 225K to 400K . It's the same opportunity you've always heard: "Buy when everyone's selling. Sell when everyone's buying." As you can see, our present real estate market may provide you an opportunity to improve your long term equity position and have a nicer home to enjoy too, especially if you have an older loan and live in a higher tax-rate area. Even if you don't, there are plenty of deals out there. When buying a home, you should be aware of some of the changing factors that add value to a home. Energy efficiency is becoming very important and quality has become more important than size. These homes can save you money in heating, cooling and maintenance costs, as well as improving the comfort of your new home. Is it time to start looking at your options?