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The worst is over for the U.S. housing market

imageThe worst is over for the U.S. housing market. After six years of declining sales and falling prices that wiped $7 trillion from the value of housing assets, a turning point has been reached.

The housing recovery will come in two phases. First, home prices will rise by just under 1 percent in the second half of 2012. In 2013, prices will rise by 1.5 percent, then go up another 2.5 percent in 2014. For the second phase, home prices will increase 3 to 3.5 percent between 2015 and 2017. These are the predictions from a report released by the Demand Institute, which is jointly operated by The Conference Board and Nielsen. The Demand Institute sees average prices rising by up to 1 percent in the second half of 2012 (in seasonally adjusted terms), marking the start of a housing recovery.

Currently, 11 percent of homeowners say they would like to sell their home but their home is not on the market. The commonest reason cited, by half of these homeowners, is that they would not be able to get the price they want.12 We predict that once price growth has risen to the 3 percent forecast for 2015, these homeowners will start to return to the market and the volume of sales of existing homes will increase. Given that homeowners are voluntarily holding back today, they will re-enter the market cautiously and in an orderly fashion, and the potential likelihood of a flood of inventory that could reverse price increases will be avoided.

The recovery will be led by demand from buyers for rental properties, rather than, as in previous cycles, demand from buyers acquiring properties for themselves. More than 50 percent of those planning to move in the next two years say they intend to rent.

  • Rental demand will help to clear the huge oversupply of existing homes for sale. In 2011, some 14 percent of all housing units were vacant, while almost 13 percent of mortgages were in foreclosure or delinquent—increases of 12 and 129 percent respectively over 2005 levels. It will take two to three years for this oversupply to be cleared, and at that point home ownership rates will rise and return to historical levels. More than 70 percent of those planning to move three to five years from now say they intend to purchase their home.
  • The housing market recovery will not be uniform across the country. Some states will see annual price gains of 5 percent or more. Others will not recover for many years. The deciding factors will include the level of foreclosed inventory and rates of unemployment.
  • Despite the number of Americans who have been hurt financially by the housing crash, the desire to own a home remains strong. We do not expect to see a long-term drop in ownership rates. Indeed, one survey has revealed that more than 80 percent of Americans recently thought buying a home remained the best long-term investment they could make.

Read the entire report here

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