Optimism Builds in Housing Market


Several recent indicators for the real estate industry are pointing to a market that is on the mend and entering recovery mode.

Housing experts’ predictions for the new year tend to center around a market stabilizing before entering a gradual, albeit very slow, recovery. However, the tone is more upbeat than it has been in years for the housing market.

Here are a few of the signs that are showing the market moving in a more positive direction:

Home sales: Existing home sales are expected to increase 12 percent this year, following a 2 percent jump last year, Moody’s Analytics predicts. The signs are already showing: In November, pending home sales — a gauge for future home buying — reached its highest level in 19 months, the National Association of REALTORS® reported. (Read more.)

New-home market: Coming off of what could be considered the worst year for new-home building ever recorded, the sector is expected to bounce back this year. New-home sales and starts were already showing a rebound in the last few months of 2011. Moody’s is predicting that single-family housing starts will increase 37 percent this year, and new-home sales will soar 74 percent.

Housing stocks: Investors are starting to get optimistic about the possibility of a rebound too, and are turning to home builder stocks. These equities have recently outperformed the broader stock market and the S&P 1500 homebuilding index has increased 38 percent since mid-October, USA Today reports.

Consumer confidence: With mortgage rates at record lows and housing affordability high, about 71 percent of Americans say now is a good time to purchase a home. Also, more Americans are optimistic that home prices will rise over the next year — about 26 percent say prices will rise in 2012, an increase of 4 percent over the last survey, according to Fannie Mae’s December National Housing Survey

Source: “Housing Outlook Is More Upbeat,” USA Today (Jan. 15, 2012) and “Consumers More Confident, Survey Says,” Deseret News (Utah) (Jan. 16, 2012)

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