With the news that the Washington area's home prices are expected to continue increasing this year, many people may be wondering: when should I buy?

Of course real estate agents will tell you now is a good time to buy -- it's almost always a good time to buy in their world. So we asked economists the same question and, in general, the answer was "yes." But it's a qualified "yes."

Anirban Basu, CEO pf Sage Policy Group in Baltimore, noted that the potential increase in mortgage rates remains the "number one threat to the housing market." For now, he said, rates seem stable. But a poor performance in the bond markets, which is related to the overall economy, can hurt interest rates.

"[That] remains a sort of Damocles over the housing market," Basu said.

Howard Wial, a Brookings Institution fellow, echoed those thoughts. He also noted that not every buyer, however, has the credit to take advantage of the lower mortage rates.