As we roll into 2016 there is a good feeling in the air. After the past few years of economic uncertainty it is refreshing to have a sense that we are on solid ground and moving ahead. The markets have solidified to the point that the Fed has dared to raise interest rates, slightly, and there seems to be a general sense of stability that has been missing until recently. Conditions look good for both buyers and sellers in the year ahead, and with a well-planned course of action it could be a good year for real estate.

Rates and prices will gradually climb in the coming year but they will not escalate at an alarming rate. Unemployment is low but wages are still stagnant so many consumers are being cautious in how they spend their money. Banks are feeling better about lending but are not going to be frivolous. It is a good time to buy or sell, but you must be prepared.

If you are looking to sell now is the time to begin the process by identifying your preferred Realtor and start to discuss things that can be done to your property to improve its market appeal. Projects both inside and out will make a big difference so use this time to take a thorough inventory of what needs to be done and start chipping away at the list.

If you are thinking about buying conditions are good, if your finances are in order. The holidays can have an impact on your finances and the kind of loan you can get. At this time of the year it is a good idea to see what you can do to reduce or eliminate any debt you have. You can also check your credit score so you have a realistic idea as to what is possible for you. It is not too early to start talking to lenders and Realtors to see who the best fit might be for you. It is also a good time to go to Open Houses and get a sense for the neighborhoods you might want to live in.

There is a lot of information available to the consumer these days, for better or worse. Carefully consider your sources and remember your plans should always include working closely with a local Realtor you know and trust. Technology can be a wonderful tool, when used by the right way in compliment to personal service.