Kiplinger: Housing Recovery Firmly Underway

March 12, 2013

Prices are rising and inventories are falling in markets throughout the United States, which has led financial reporting and forecasting firm Kiplinger to declare the housing recovery “firmly” in motion. Moreover, the company says housing will help carry the overall economy at a time when U.S. exports are decreasing, says Karen Mracek, a Kiplinger editor and real estate analyst.

“The biggest reason we think we’re on firm ground is that we’re seeing every indicator on the way up,” Mracek says. “As with the overall economy, it’s kind of hard to call the bottom or the pivot point. But we’re seeing a range of indicators that suggest pretty solid growth going forward.”

In addition to home values and supply, positive indicators include the number of multiple-bid situations, new-home construction, and credit availability, she says. Solid improvements in these fundamentals will lead to formation of more new households and will also help more borrowers come out from underwater — and trade up to a new home. They’ll also create new jobs in real estate and construction, Mracek explains.

The recent gains made in housing have some concerned that real estate could be entering another bubble market, but Mracek disagrees with that assessment. “There might be [a bubble] in some concentrated markets,” she says. “But I don’t think it will be a bubble that’s as widespread and disastrous as the one that happened in the last decade.”

Improvements have been — and will continue to be — uneven. The turnaround will probably be slower in metro areas in Florida and the Midwest.

Nationally, Mracek says the current housing recovery is real and sustainable, but she also acknowledges that the rise in home values and decline in inventories won’t maintain their current pace.

“We see prices leveling out a bit more [in the future] from the late jumps in 2012,” she says. “There are still foreclosures for the banks to work through. As prices improve, you’re going to see banks get rid of REOs.”

— Brian Summerfield, REALTOR® Magazine

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