Realtors Housing Economy Outlook Hopeful

Date: Nov. 13th, 2009
Contact: Denver Business Journal
Aided by the home buyer tax credit, the outlook for housing and the economy appears headed for a sustainable recovery, the National Association of Realtors said Friday.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said the projections are enhanced by a tax credit expansion to more home buyers through the middle of 2010. "In fact, the credit is working better than first projected -- it now looks like we'll have 2.3 to 2.4 million first-time buyers this year," Yun said.

A consumer study by the NAR shows that first-time buyers accounted for a record 47 percent share of home sales over the past year, up from 41 percent in the 2008 survey. The share has risen steadily since a cyclical low of 36 percent in 2006.

Existing-home sales are expected to total 5.01 million in 2009, a gain of 2 percent over last year, and then are forecast to rise 13.6 percent to 5.69 million in 2010. "A steady draw down of inventory will help home values to turn positive in 2010, but risks such as unemployment remain in the economy," Yun said.

New-home sales are projected at 397,000 this year, recovering to 549,000 in 2010. Housing starts, including multifamily units, should total 564,000 units this year but grow to 752,000 in 2010.

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage will probably average 5.3 percent in the fourth quarter, rising gradually to 5.8 percent by the end of next year, NAR reported, adding that its housing affordability index will set a record in 2009, averaging 30 percentage points higher than 2008. Affordability will decline from record highs next year but will remain at historically attractive levels for home buyers.