If this is such a great time to buy a home, why aren't more doing so?

A few weeks ago, I spoke with Louis Cammarosano, general manager with HomeGain, about a wide variety of topics, everything from why so many real estate agents across the country don't like Pres. Obama to why home sellers and their agents have such a wide disconnect between what their homes are worth.

At some point during the conversation, I mentioned to Cammarosano that this was a great time to be a first-time home buyer, even with the expiration of the federal government's first-time buyer tax credit. I was surprised when Cammarosano said, "Well, maybe."

Cammarosano said that many buyers are worried that housing values haven't quite hit their lowest point yet. But he also said that many first-timers are afraid to enter the residential real estate market because of the bad vibes it's been giving off.

Newspapers are full of stories of people who have lost their homes to foreclosure. Web sites highlight the desperation homeowners feel when the home for which they paid $500,000 is suddenly worth just $300,000.

Looking at it this way, I see Cammarosano's point. Why would someone willingly enter the housing market today?

"I think people might be souring on buying a home today because they've seen friends or family members who've had bad experiences," Cammarosano said. "They've seen people lose their homes to foreclosure."

When I first started covering residential real estate, one of the first stories I wrote was the old rent vs. buy debate. The story was old even before I wrote it. But I imagine if I wrote that story today, it'd be a bit different. I think the benefits of renting might win out today.

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