By Peter Ricci
It’s no mystery that housing has been on a bumpy path since 2007, but the past month, a wide range of data has come out all but endorsing a new housing recovery.
From home sales, to interest rates, to construction data, everywhere you look nowadays, there’s another reason to smile about where housing is headed. And with that in mind, here are the eight reasons to be ecstatic for real estate in 2012:
- Home Sales – Existing-home sales in April were 14.4 percent higher than last year, and new home sales were 9.9 percent higher in the same period. Nowhere were these gain more apparent than in Midwest, where existing-home sales were up 7.4 percent and new home sales 28 percent (and 20 percent in Chicago).
- Prices – Long the black eye to housing’s progress, prices have begun tightening up. The median price for existing-homes was up 10.1 percent from last April, and values were up in CoreLogic’s latest HPI for the first time since July 2011.
- Inventory Levels – The nation’s housing inventory has remained low, further stimulating buyer demand. New-home inventory is near record lows at 5.1 months supply, and for the overall market, inventory is 21 percent lower than last May.
- Interest Rates – Rates on fixed-rate mortgages continue to reach historic lows, with rates for the week ending May 17 falling to 3.79 percent…until they fell further for the week ending May 24 to 3.78 percent.
- Incomes – Realtor income increased by 2.3 percent in 2011, according to NAR’s latest member profile.
- Affordability – Housing affordability is now at a 40-year high, according to research from Fiserv.
- Foreclosures – Foreclosure filings in April were the lowest in five years, falling 14 percent from last year.
- Construction – Housing starts were up nearly 30 percent in April from last year, and spending for March, the most recent month of data from the Census Bureau, was up 6.0 percent from March 2011. As a result, builder confidence has soared to its highest levels in five years.
But don’t take our word for it. The Internet is swimming with positive reports on the housing market, all coming to one conclusion – housing is coming back.