Real Estate Outlook:

by Kenneth R. Harney

It’s no secret that the keys to a long-term housing recovery are a growing economy, more jobs and modest growth in home values.So it’s significant that the latest numbers in all three of these area happen to be positive – they’re not spectacular, but definitely pointed in a good direction.

Take home prices for example. Last week’s national Home Price Index from the real estate data firm, Clear Capital, found that housing values not only have stabilized in most parts of the country, but are gaining in many markets.

Comparing 2009 to 2010 through August, Clear Capital found that overall national prices increased by 6.1 percent.

While values in a handful of areas, such as Las Vegas, continued to be negative, in markets like metropolitan San Diego, Los Angeles, Minneapolis and Pittsburgh they were up by more than 10 percent from last year’s lows.

Even in Miami, which was hit particularly hard hit in the bust, Clear Capital recorded a small turnaround underway. Miami prices gained by a net eight tenths of one percent for the year, according to researchers, but were up by two percent during the latest quarter – meaning that the price bottom may have been hit last year and values are now increasing slowly.

In a separate report from Barclays Capital on the so-called “shadow inventory” of homes with seriously delinquent mortgages that haven’t yet hit the REO market, researchers found the total inventory dropped for the fifth straight month.

The shadow inventory doesn’t get a lot of publicity, but it’s an important factor for pricing, acting as a dead weight on how fast non-distressed homes can gain in value. So, a continuing shrinkage like this is definitely encouraging news.

Meanwhile, in the mortgage market — where rates in the mid-4’s are pushing affordability indexes to record highs — new applications for loans to purchases houses jumped by a surprising 6.3 percent last week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

That increase was the biggest in two months, and cast new doubts on doomsday predictions that the home real estate market would fall apart once the federal tax credits disappeared.

The national economy continues to provide modest support for housing, and the Federal Reserve’s latest “Beige Book” report said economic expansion is underway, though at a slow pace, in the majority of the 12 bank districts it surveys around the U.S.

Even the unemployment numbers are showing some minimally hopeful signs: New private-sector jobs gained by 67,000 last month, and new filings for unemployment benefits dropped by 27,000 — far more than most analysts had predicted.

Published: September 13, 2010

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About dherries
Dave and Sally Herries and The RealtyColorado Team - Real Estate Broker serving the metro-Denver area. Offering properties in urban, sub-urban and rural areas. Our mission statement is "Enriching lives through real estate."

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