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The housing market continues its gradual recovery without the aid of the tax credit. Sales are slower but growing. Although it will likely be uneven at times, slow growth is believed to be the trend moving forward. Interest rates hit a new historic low again, a major factor in helping keep mortgage payments incredibly affordable.
Extended periods of record low interest rates and further plans from the Federal Reserve Board to expedite recovery have some concerned about future inflation. One such investment guru, John Paulson, touted the benefits of owning real estate as a hedge against inflation on Forbes.com. “Your debt and interest payments get locked in at record lows, while the price of your home will rise … If you don’t own a home buy one … if you own one home, buy another one, and if you own two homes, buy a third and lend your relatives the money to buy a home.”
This march back up continues to provide excellent opportunities: an ample selection of homes, affordable prices, and historically low interest rates. Experts anticipate both the economy and the housing market will continue their paths on the way to a complete recovery.
Home sales continued to rebound in September, increasing 10% compared to the previous month. This builds on August’s gain of 7.6% that followed a large drop caused by the expiration of the federal tax credit in July. Sales are expected to gradually grow as the market moves toward recovery without government stimulus. The recent foreclosure moratorium has opened up opportunities for short sales. Although it could make the near-term “choppy at times,” industry experts expect the overall trend to continue growing slowly.
After four months of prices remaining on par with year-ago levels, September showed a slight decline. Last September distressed properties were 29% of all home sales; this September that number rose to 35%. The larger proportion of distressed sales, which are typically discounted, helps to explain the decline. While these discounted sales provide opportunities for buyers, sellers look forward to the general trending upward of home price.
There are fewer homes on the market again in September, representing 10.7 months of inventory. While still at a relatively high level, months of inventory shrank by nearly a month in September from August’s 11.6 and nearly two months since the 12.5-month supply in July. This continues to represent an excellent opportunity for buyers and investors who have not yet taken advantage of the abundant opportunities of the market including record low rates, an ample but shrinking selection of homes, and highly affordable prices.
Housing remains at near-record affordability levels, and prospective home buyers stand to benefit from the lowest mortgage rates in decades, as well as advantageous home prices. Housing is approximately 60% more affordable now than during the height of the market.
Source: National Association of Realtors
Mortgage rates once again set new record lows in early October to 4.19% and remained below 4.3% throughout the month. These historically low rates contributed to real savings for buyers. Furthermore, the longer the buyer owns the home, the greater the savings they will realize. As economic activity gains momentum, rates will rise to keep inflation at an acceptable level.
Rates as of November 4 .
Prime Time to Buy
7 Reasons Why Now Is a Great Time to Buy a Home
Recent history has reframed some of what had long been taken for granted about buying a home. Namely, we’ve learned that even though buying a home remains one of the best and safest investments available, a home should not function as an ATM or a short-term speculation strategy. So, where does that leave us? A lot smarter, able to recognize an opportunity when we see one, and aware of the facts that point to now as the prime time to buy a home.
Sources: The Wall Street Journal, Inman News, KW Research
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