Jobs, continued low interest and a variety of housing choices encourage potential buyers
Positive signs are beginning to indicate an upturn in the real estate market. The Labor Department announced a decline in unemployment filings as layoffs ease and hiring slowly increases. Economists are encouraged that the economy is getting closer to generating job gains, which will boost the housing market as people show more confidence and buy homes. Realtors are looking for a burst of activity in late April, May and June as potential buyers don’t have to buck bad weather to see properties.
In the Midwest home sales jumped almost 10 percent, year-to-year, in February, according to the National Association of Realtors. Nationally, year-to-year sales were up 8 percent. First American CoreLogic and its LoanPerformance Home Price Index Forecast indicates a housing price decline into early spring, but that will stabilize and recover modestly for the remainder of the year.
Even though the federal government will stop purchasing mortgage-backed securities on March 31, as planned, it looks like interest rates will continue to be low, at least for the foreseeable future. Rates on 30-year mortgages have fallen to around 5.05% from 5.28% at the start of this year.
Frank Nothaft, chief economist for mortgage investor Freddie Mac, sees what he calls "a very steady, quarter to quarter growth" pattern ahead. He also expects total housing sales of existing resales and newly constructed sales to be near six million by the end of 2010 and higher in 2011.
Written by Myra Vandersall