Despite soaring gas prices and other tough economic news, there may be a silver lining: housing. That's right, if you can afford it -- it's could actually be a great time to buy a new home.
CBS News Business and Economics Correspondent Rebecca Jarvis explained mortgage rates are headed lower again.
She said, "What you saw in most of 2010 is mortgage rates closer to four percent on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage. Now, they're closer to five, but they're coming down a bit, 4.87 percent is the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage. But a lot of analysts think they could be going up again."
But how about home prices?
"Home prices are a big concern for many economists because we're beginning to see the signs of a double dip," she said. "In 2006, they hit their peak. By 2009, they see the trough. Here in 2011, they've turned away again. They're heading lower again and that can be a significant concern because if we see prices continue to head lower, then of course, the housing market continues to head lower."
Jarvis noted the median home price in the U.S. is $158,800. She said many states across the country are experiencing a double dip in mortgage rates.
She explained, "Where we are seeing the most significant downward pressure is interesting because it's really throughout the country from the Midwest, where you have Chicago and Detroit that are heading lower to the east where you have New York, Charlotte, also heading lower. And then in the West, nothing is really immune here. You have Las Vegas, Portland, Seattle, also lower."
Wragge said, "Vegas, Phoenix and Florida, especially have been hit. I mean, they were place we've really known got hit."
"They were hit in the beginning and they're getting hit again," Jarvis said.
But how do you buy a new home today? What's changed?
Wragge observed, "You just can't walk in and get a loan from a bank. You have to have serious money if you want to get in."
Jarvis said, "You need big money up front. Back in 2007, could you get a loan for two percent down. Nowadays, you need 27 percent down payment, so you have to pay for almost a quarter of the house up front -- or even more than a quarter of the house."
She added, "And you have it think long-term. This isn't a short-term buy and flip. This is a long term hold."