The spring season usually brings an increase in buying and selling to the real estate market, and housing experts are mostly optimistic that this spring will be even better than recent years.
Some signs are already there: Housing inventories are declining, housing affordability is at record highs, mortgage rates are at all-time lows, and the job market is improving.
Existing-home sales have been edging up in recent months, and for-sale housing inventories were at nearly 2.4 million units in December, reaching its lowest point since 2005, according to National Association of REALTORS® data.
NAR’s Chief Economist Lawrence Yun says home prices are beginning to stabilize in many markets.
Also, NAR’s Housing Affordability Index is at its highest level since the 1970s, which indicates that for the average family housing is very affordable.
The National Association of Home Builders is also predicting an improvement this spring among the new-home sector. NAHB is predicting that home sales will increase 18 percent this year, that’s after facing their lowest on record in 2011.
However, threats to a housing recovery still loom this spring. Strict mortgage lending is keeping some buyers on the sidelines, and foreclosures continue to put downward pressure on overall home prices in many markets.
“The signals are a little hard to extrapolate, but ultimately by the end of this year we should see the housing market on more solid footing,” says Celia Chen, senior housing economist with Moody’s Analytics. “So an improvement but off of very, very weak activity.”
Source: “Real Estate: A Buy or Bust This Spring Selling Season?” Investor’s Business Daily (Feb. 2, 2012)