I speak to dozens of people per week that are browsing homes for sale and try to answer questions on when and why to buy real estate. Most noticeably is the skepticism that everyone has because although they WANT to buy, they are unsure and scared if this is the right time to buy real estate. My first response is that the worst is over. The subprime mess is almost history and even though sellers/homeowners may be under water, the short sale process has become a more condusive approach since last year.That said, real estate is still moving at competitive prices, indicative from our charts that we update every month in our updates. I recommend that with the inventory out there, it is smart to be picky. You have every right to be so. Low mortgage rates is one reason that you should buy. Mortgage rates should stay low well into 2011. I refuse to speculate beyond a year, but after 2011, who knows what happens. What I do know is that the job reports are coming back positive and economic growth should continue. The housing market leans almost entirely on job growth.Right now, there is a lot of pent up demand. Buyers on the fence waiting are joined by millions of others. As long as job growth continues, real estate demand will continue to climb. Don’t forget about the baby boomer era we are in. The baby boomers children are now entering the age of home ownership. This will add on to the demand that is out there. This pent up demand will explode in 2011.One factor that most people are not aware of is the “shadow inventory” of homes that banks are either holding or the number of delinquent mortgages. In NJ at the moment, almost 10% of mortgages are in some type of default stages. Of that 10%, it is likely that not even half of those people lose their homes. Lenders today are more inclined to work with these homeowners to make their payments easier, whether that is a principal, payment, and/or interest rate reduction. It’s inevitable that this happens. It is far cheaper for a lender to do this than to foreclose on the home. Believe me, the LAST thing a lender wants to do today is foreclose. It is also cheaper to offer a short sale on a home. A short sale is an agreed upon sales price less than the amount of the current payoff amount.A perfect example I can make for an improving housing market is a recent experience. I have access to a couple of lenders and asset managers that I buy REO’s from. I either buy REO’s personally for investment or I offer them to my network of investors. I was getting homes at about 25% discounts from current appraised values. I barely get a call from those lenders and asset managers anymore. My most recent conversation with a local asset manager was why should they sell to me anymore at 25% discount when they can list their homes on the retail market and get 20% more for their homes within 90 days. Too bad for me, good for them. Ultimately, its a good sign that real estate is moving quicker today when priced competitively.I whole heartedly believe that 2011 is going to be a mini-boom for real estate, especially in areas like Hoboken, where we are directly impacted by the financial market in NYC that continues to improve every month. Hiring freezes are being lifted as more and more investors play the different markets. Although real estate prices may not skyrocket, prices will not free-fall and homeowners will be enticed by a “missing the boat” feeling, low rates, and more favorable financing options.So for Northern New Jersey real estate, my suggestion is this: If you find a home you LOVE, buy it today. Love it though. Don’t THINK you love it. If the housing market drops another 5% for instance, your longer term gains combined with today’s low interest rates should negate that loss in a short amount of time. Most importantly, you still have the home you love. If you don’t buy it, you will be in competition with many more people next year and your opportunity cost is not having the “home of your dreams”. You heard it hear first.