When Coldwell Banker agents speak with their clients, friends, family and even their fellow Realtors, they hear the usual stories of buyers holding off due to fears of the slow economy or waiting for that perfect “screaming buy” to come along before purchasing. They also often hear about sellers not listing their homes because they wouldn’t get as much in this challenging market as their neighbors did a few years ago. However, some choose to look at the market in an entirely different way – focusing on opportunities.

There is valid concern regarding the nation’s high unemployment rate, the fragile economic recovery, and other economic stories seen on CNBC or read in this morning’s paper. Having said that, how is YOUR personal economy doing? While the nation’s economy is important, it’s not nearly as relevant to the individual as his or her own personal circumstances when it comes to buying or selling a home.

In many cases, buyers have secure jobs with good incomes and strong savings and investments. With home prices easing and mortgage rates near record lows, these buyers are personally in a good position to afford the home of their dreams – perhaps in a better position than they will be in the future when interest rates rise and home prices rebound. Conversely, many sellers have a great deal of equity in the home that they have owned for years and would walk away with a good profit. The reasons they may wish to sell are still there, bad economy or not – to move up to a larger home, or maybe downsize in retirement, or perhaps relocate to be closer to their grandkids.

It’s important for consumers to weigh their own “personal economy” against the nation’s economy when deciding whether to purchase or sell a home. It’s easy to get caught up in the daily drumbeat of economic news. It’s impossible to turn on the TV or the radio, or read a paper without the latest economic minutia. While most experts agree that the U.S. economy is recovering and the risk of a “double-dip recession” appears over, some days it still feels like two steps forward and one back.

Remember, what really matters in an individual’s investment decision isn’t the latest jobless figures or manufacturing orders or even the Case-Shiller index, it’s the personal circumstances of that individual. Assuming “personal economy” is reasonably good, it may be time to swallow fears and take advantage of this window of opportunity to buy a home.

There’s an old saying that you make your profit on real estate when you buy, not when you sell. It’s a lot like the “buy low, sell high” philosophy of investing in stocks. While no one questions that there are economic challenges out there in the market, there are also tremendous opportunities. By the time all of those macro economic concerns have been lifted – when the “all clear” bell rings again – it’s doubtful the same opportunities will be around in terms of prices and mortgage rates. “Personal economy” may just be the best indicator when considering whether to make a real estate move now rather than later.