When the homebuyer tax credit ends today it will still be a good time to buy a home in Illinois. Here’s why.

Mortgage interest rates remain low with 30-year rates hovering just above 5 percent this week according to Freddie Mac. Today’s more affordable home prices are another draw for first-time buyers and those looking to trade-up, invest or relocate.

First-time buyer programs are available from some cities and counties. For example, the City of Chicago’s  Home Purchase Assistance (HPA) program offers down payment and closing cost assistance to qualifying first-time homebuyers. The HOME Program adminstered both by HUD and IHDA helps homebuyers in participating Illinois cities and counties with down payment and closing cost assistance.

First-time buyers may also qualify for a safe and affordable mortgage backed by the Federal Housing Administration (www.FHA.gov or www.HUD.gov), and the Illinois Housing Development Authority’s HOME START program (www.IHDA.org) offers down payment assistance.

Homeownership remains a good long-term investment. In Illinois the median price in 2009 was 5.9% higher than it was 10 years earlier in 1999. Get more facts about today’s Illinois housing markets at www.YourIllinoisHome.com.

Note, for U.S. service members, the homebuyer tax credit deadline is extended through April 2011. According to the Internal Revenue Service, members of the uniformed services, Foreign Service and employees of the intelligence community serving outside the United States are eligible for this special rule.