Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Top Story: A Jump in Mortgage Rates Puts Pressure on Buyers to Buy Now!

March 2011 Market Update

Gradual progress in the housing market continues at a steady pace without government support. The market has shown remarkable improvement from the initial drop after the expiration of the home buyer tax credit this past July. Although higher-than-normal distressed sales skew the overall picture of home prices downward, inventory continues to shrink and sales continue to rise. The rock-bottom interest rates of 2010 are likely to trend upward. As economists anticipate rates at or above 6% by the end of 2012, buyers are moving off the sidelines and into the market.

A good sign for long-term market stability is that the median down payment on conventional mortgages has risen to 22%, up from 4% in 2006 and slightly above the 20% standard in the 1990s. This may keep buyers looking in slightly lower price ranges, but it is a good sign of future sustainability for homeowners and banks alike. There are still ample opportunities for those who would like down payments below 20%, including some conventional mortgages and those backed by the Federal Housing Administration, Veterans Affairs, and the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development loans.

As the economy improves, stimulus efforts by the government and the Federal Reserve Board will gradually wind down, which typically means rising interest rates. Meanwhile, buyers continue to benefit from historically favorable buying conditions and sellers are encouraged by increased market stability.

Home Sales

in millions

The increasing trend in existing home sales activity continued through January, and for the first time rose above year-ago levels when the home buyer tax credit was in effect. This marks the sixth monthly increase since July when the tax credit expired, and indicates a recovery that’s gaining a firmer footing without government support.

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