The days of 3.5% 30-year fixed mortgages are over

Home sales will rebound: After a brief lull in the fall of 2013, I predict that sales activity will return to the market with more home buyers. The steep jump in home prices has brought thousands of homeowners above water on their mortgages, enabling them to sell and move. Negative equity has been one of the biggest barriers to home sales since the housing crash. Come spring, there will most likely be more sellers, more homes on the market and therefore more transactions.

Home price gains should ease: Prices will still rise, no question, but probably not as steeply as they did in 2013. Annual gains of more than 12 percent were driven in large part by investors on the low end of the market. As foreclosures ebb and fewer distressed sales are in the mix, prices will moderate. Still low inventories, however, will keep them in the positive.

(More predictions: Energy prices hit a 4-year low for 2014)

Rents will rise: Despite the return of home sales, renter nation should continue throughout 2014, as younger Americans and first time home buyers are still left out of the recovery. Saddled with student debt and unable to come up with the large down payments required from today’s mortgage lenders, this cohort will probably continue to fuel both the multifamily apartment market and the single-family rental trade.

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