Rather than rehash, review and regurgitate 2014, we’ll do something that might be more productive and useful to you. Let’s predict the future and see what we all might anticipate for the residential real estate market in 2015. As most everyone has seen, the real estate market has shown improvement which has been catapulted forward by improvements in the economy, low mortgage rates and reduced inventory. The analysts out there are predicting that this will translate into larger gains for 2015. Everyone has tons of questions, like “What should we expect next? Will there be another real estate boom? Will the real estate market recovery be consistently steadier?” What we can tell you is that the trends from 2014 indicate a better 2015. Here are a few indicators:
1. Low Mortgage Rates: The Federal Reserve did take steps to ease lending, but despite doing this, mortgage rates continue to decline and assisted the home buyers with lowered borrowing costs. The borrower benefits continue with the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage remaining below 4 percent.
2. Economy Improvement: The beginning of the year brought the nation’s harshest winter, but despite this, the economy improved steadily and new jobs were created, resulting in a higher GDP and stronger consumer confidence.
3. Foreclosures and Short Sales Decline: To everyone’s delight, distressed sales that include foreclosures and short sales have significantly declined. The numbers don’t matter, but should you care to know, foreclosures are expected to be reduced by at least 30 percent by 2014’s close.
4. Investors Retreat From the Market: In conjunction with the reduction in distressed sales and increased median home prices, those large scale investors in the single-family market have significantly decreased. This reduction results in less competition from investors, allowing for first-time home buyers to dip their feet into the real estate market.
5. Home Prices Level Out: In 2012 and 2013, we saw some unusually high levels of home prices appreciating and it wasn’t until 2014 that we saw a leveling out of these increases. The present increases in the residential home market are more consistent with “healthy” long-term growth.
With these positive predictions for 2015, there are factors that may interfere to prevent a truly strong recovery:
1. First-Time Buyers Fear: According to the National Association REALTORS®, first-time buyers dropped to the lowest level in nearly 30 years. As we have continued to report over the past few months, however, there are signs of improvement. While these improvements are modest, the next largest home buying market, The Millennials, are starting to think about the residential real estate market. Federal policies for lenders implemented in December resulted in revised lending regulations and lower down-payments from lenders have greatly assisted in first-time home buying confidence.
2. Credit Requirement Inflexibility: Even though the mortgage rates have been historically low, homeowners have seen an inability to borrow on their homes because of lender qualification standards. Therefore, 2014 saw mortgage credit availability come to a screeching halt and did not improve.
3. Inventory is Low: Despite the small increase in inventory of residential real estate, supply did not outweigh demand. As has been reported throughout 2014, the supply of new and existing residential real estate continues to remain below “normal” expected levels.
4. New Home Startups Don’t Increase: 2014 saw that new home sales were still at the levels they were in 2013. Despite this lack of growth, new home prices continued to rise substantially in 2014. The rise in prices might indicate that the increased home prices actually put a wall up on demand.
5. Renting Rules: There continues to be record levels of renting, which seems like a likely result when home ownership continues to remain at low levels. As long as this continues, rental prices will continue to increase.
This will be the last post for the year 2014. All of us at Khani & Auerbach wish you a wonderful New Year and may 2015 bring you everything you hope for in health, happiness and peace.
Khila L. Khani, Esq.