Home buyers this year have faced higher prices, more competition, and rising mortgage rates. In short, it's been a challenging year. But that's not to say it isn't a good time to buy a house. There are many reasons to be optimistic about homeownership, in fact – and a few that put current conditions in perspective. Take mortgage rates, for example. According to Freddie Mac, the long term average is 8.16 percent, which means today's rates are still low historically. Also, home equity is increasing. In fact, it's up 13% year-over-year. And rising home equity means today's homeowners are seeing their investment grow. There is also evidence that market conditions may begin to improve. For one, new home construction has been making gains and that means more homes for buyers to choose from. It also means buyers should begin to see prices moderate and competition wane, as more new homes are built to meet today's high level of buyer demand. In short, there are a lot of good reasons to be optimistic about buying a house this year, despite market challenges. More here.