It's really all about the economy at this point. Fortunately, the economy is moving forward, albeit at what too-often seems a plodding pace.

But moving forward we are. The Federal Reserve noted as much in its latest rendering of its Beige Book, a report of anecdotal evidence of economic progress in the dozen Fed districts. The Beige Book states, "Compared with prior summaries, the reports on balance suggest ongoing improvement in economic conditions in recent months, with most districts highlighting more favorable conditions than identified in reports from the late spring through early fall.

”Now, that attempt to say something without saying too much doesn't really enlighten, but it does affirm what we've known all along – the economic recovery is progressing.

Home prices might also be progressing better than the national numbers suggest. Zillow Inc. reports home prices were flat in November, with the average national home price at $147,800. But the housing market is a local market, and local markets appear to be improving better than the national numbers report (which can be skewed by outliers, e.g. Las Vegas ).Of the 165 housing markets tracked by Zillow, 60 percent reported stable or appreciating home values in November. Notable winning locales include Los Angeles, Washington D.C, Miami , San Francisco , and Detroit.

The flow of private money into housing is also encouraging. We've noted over the past month that hedge funds, investing platforms for the wealthy, are directing more funds into housing stocks. In addition, Robert Shiller, co-inventor of the S&P/Case-Shiller Real Estate Index, noted at a recent American Economic Association function that the futures market for real estate (basically bets on the direction of home prices) is pointing to rising prices.

We expect interest in residential real estate to further bloom in 2012. Homes are enticingly affordable these days. U.S. Department of Housing and U.S. Treasury Department data show that home affordability is at a level unseen since 1971. In fact, median-income families today have double the funds needed to cover the cost of owning a home than they did 40 years ago.

Historically low mortgage rates also contribute to the affordability quotient, and rates continue to skim along the bottom, as they have done for the past two months.

But rates aren't the only consideration in the cost of a loan. Fees come into play. Unfortunately, borrowers face higher fees in the near future. The guarantee fee on loans sold to Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae is set to increase a minimum of 10 basis points effective April 1. Many industry watchers, though, expect the actual cost to fall within the 20-to-80 basis-point range.

Today, affordability is at a multi-decade high, and mortgage rates are at a multi-decade low. We see few economic reasons for anyone in the market for a mortgage and house not to take the plunge.

Courtesy of Jessica Regan.

Search all Harrisburg PA homes for sale.

When you are buying or selling property in today's Harrisburg PA real estate market, it's important to have confidence in your real estate professional. Don’s commitment as your Harrisburg PA REALTOR® is to provide you with the specialized real estate service you deserve.

When you are an informed buyer or seller, you'll make the best decisions for the most important purchase or sale in your lifetime. That's why Don’s goal is to keep you informed on trends in Harrisburg PA real estate. With property values continuing to rise, real estate is a sound investment for now and for the future.

As a local area expert with knowledge of Harrisburg PA area communities, Don’s objective is to work diligently to assist you in meeting your real estate goals.

If you are considering buying or selling a home or would just like to have additional information about real estate in your area, please don't hesitate to call me at (717) 657-8700, complete my online form, or e-mail me at