Is the Housing Market Recovering or Not?
You have likely heard all kinds of reports recently talking about how the housing market has been showing great signs of recovery, however economists are struggling to agree on where exactly we are at in the recovery process.
The market has been tough to read the past few years. While there is still not an overall consensus on where exactly it stands, most analysts agree that the recovery process has indeed begun.
Regardless, there are various mixed signals that are leaving many people scratching their heads.
Some of the positive signals include:
1) Increasing inventory
According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), inventory is up 9.6% so far in 2013 (above the peak percentage increase for 2011 and 2012). While inventory is still very tight in many metro areas around the country, the increase is a good sign.
2) Construction of new homes is way up
The U.S. Census Bureau reported that new home construction hit its highest level since before the market crashed in 2008. Total starts rose seven percent in March over February, and 47 percent over this time last year.
3) Mortgage rates are still low
Although mortgage rates have been rising slightly as of late, they are still very near the record lows we saw in recent months. This has inspired many “fence-sitting” buyers to finally take the plunge and purchase a new home or refinance their current one.
Some of the negative signals include:
1) A dip in builder confidence
The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reported that builder confidence in the market for newly built, single-family homes fell 2 points in April, meaning more builders remain pessimistic about the housing sector.
2) Credit is still tight
Many buyers are still experiencing difficulty in qualifying for loans. According to NAR, the current tight lending conditions may hold back the housing recovery in the long run, explaining that “This is particularly the case for condos in view of FHA owner occupancy requirements. A number of REALTORS® expressed concern over unrealistic loan requirements by financial institutions.”
While there are certainly many more factors that need to be part of the housing recovery discussion, the above are simply a few examples of why some people are claiming that the worst is behind us, while others remain a bit more cautious.
Where do you see the market heading as we speed through 2013?