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Housing panel says Lawton's market is flourishing

Lawton_While most of the country is seeing mass foreclosures, Oklahoma is not.  That was the message delivered during a forum Thursday at Cameron University addressing the nation's slumping housing market and its effect on today's economy.

Overall, Oklahoma's economy is doing considerably well.  Job opportunities are up and unemployment rates are down, unlike most other states.  Lawton-Fort Sill's housing market, specifically, isn't seeing too much of a slump at all due to the large number of soldiers relocating to post.

President of Arvest Bank, and Chairman of the Lawton-Fort Sill Chamber of Commerce, David Madigan, says that a spike in foreclosures is another trend Lawton-Fort Sill doesn't seem to be following.  "As far as housing markets go, last couple of years we've actually appreciated every year which is something very few states can say," he said.  However, they are following one trend - lending troubles. 

Banks across the country are tightening their lending standards.  "A client that was approved for a loan maybe three or six months ago would now have a difficult time qualifying for a mortgage today," said Madigan.  "From a mortgage and bankers standpoint, credit scoring is vitally important."

Lenders are ensuring that current salaries cover current housing prices.  Chad Wilkerson, who works for the Federal Reserve, attributes home price fundamentals to Oklahoma's housing success.  "Oklahoma prices weren't growing faster then incomes, so therefore don't have to come back down to get in line with income growth like they were in some parts of the country," he said. 

When applying for a mortgage loan, Madigan recommends asking a lot of questions, getting a good faith estimate, and comparing the benefits from one lender to the next to ensure that you will make a good an informed opinion. 

Lawton-Fort Sill is expected to see a surge in the housing market in the spring of 2009 when 2,500 soldiers relocate to Fort Sill, with additional number arriving into the next year and beyond.

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