Housing And Mortgage : The Experts Make Their 2012 Predictions

What's next for housing in 2012As the new year begins, there are no shortage of stories telling us what to expect in 2012. Housing finished 2011 with momentum and mortgage rates closed at the lowest rates of all time.

Some expect those trends to continue through the first quarter and beyond. Others expect a rapid reversal.

Who’s right and who’s wrong? A quick look through the newspapers, websites and business television programs reveals “experts” with opposing, well-delivered arguments views. It’s tough to know who to believe.

For example, here are some “on-the-record” predictions for 2012 :

The issue for buyers, seller, and would-be refinancers in Orlando and nationwide is that it can be a challenge to separate a “prediction” from fact at times. 

When an argument is made on the pages of a respected newspaper or website, or is presented on CNBC or Bloomberg by a well-dressed, well-spoken industry insider, we’re inclined to believe what we read and hear.

This is human nature.

However, we must force ourselves to remember that any analysis about the future — whether it’s housing-related, mortgage-related, or something else — are based on a combination of past events and personal opinion.

Predictions are guesses about what might come next — nothing more.

For example, at the start of 2009, few people expected the 30-year fixed rate mortgage to stay below 6 percent, but it did. Then, at the start of 2010, few people expected the 30-year fixed rate mortgage to stay below 5 percent, but it did.

All we can know for certain about today’s market is that both mortgage rates and home values are low, creating favorable home-buying conditions nationwide.

At that start of last year, few people expected mortgage rates to even reach 4 percent. Today, rates “with points” price in the 3s.

What 2012 has in store we just can’t know.

Despite Low Rates, Pending Home Sales Slip In August

Pending Home Sales graphDespite the lowest mortgage rates of all-time, home buyers are slowing the pace at which they’re buying homes.

According to the National Association of REALTORS®, on a seasonally-adjusted basis, the Pending Home Sales Index fell 1 percent in August.

The Pending Home Sales Index measures homes under contract, but not yet sold, nationwide. In this respect, the Pending Home Sales Index is a forward-looking housing market indicator; a predictor of future home sales.

It’s one of the few national indices that “looks ahead” to future market conditions. Most housing data, by contrast, describes past events.

On a regional basis, only the South Region showed improvement in August’s Pending Home Sales Index report : 

  • Northeast Region: -5.8%
  • Midwest Region : -3.7%
  • South Region : +2.6%
  • West Region : -2.4%

That said, even the value of regional data can be questioned. Like all things in real estate, the number of homes going under contract will vary on the local level.

For example, in the Northeast Region where pending home sales slipped in August, there are close to a dozen states. Some of those states performed better than others, and there is no doubt that cities and towns exist in the region in which pending home sales actually climbed.

As a national/regional report, the Pending Home Sales Index cannot show local market data and, for that reason, it’s somewhat irrelevant to everyday buyers and sellers in Orlando. If you’re in the market to buy or sell a home today, it’s your local housing market data that matters to you. 

We watch the Pending Home Sales Index because it paints a broad picture of housing nationwide. To get local market conditions, though, you’ll want to talk with a local real estate professional.

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