Improving Equity and Fewer Investors will Drive California Home Sales in 2014

Home ownership is expected to be key to the California real estate market
over the next year.  The 2014 California Housing
Market Forecast” released today said that the diminishing importance of
distressed home sales and a shift from investors toward primary home buyers
will bode well for both sales and home prices in 2014.

The Forecast, released by the
California Association of Realtors® (C.A.R.) sees home sales rising by 3.2
percent in 2014
to 440,000.  Sales in 2013
are projected at 420,300, down 2.1 percent from the 439,400 existing
single-family homes sold in 2012.

“The housing market has improved over the past year, and we expect this
trend to continue into 2014,” said C.A.R. President Don Faught.  “As the economy
enters the fourth year of a modest recovery, we expect to see a strong demand
for homeownership, as buyers who may have been competing with investors and
facing an extreme shortage of available housing return from the sidelines.”

Home prices are projected to grow by 6 percent in 2014, moderating from the
soaring 28 percent price increase expected by the end of this year and an 11.6
percent gain in 2012.  This would bring
the median home price in the state to 408,600 by the end of this year and
$432,800 in 2014.   

“We’ve seen a marked improvement in housing market conditions in a year with
the distressed market shrinking from one in three sales a year ago to less than
one in five in recent months, thanks primarily to sharp gains in home prices,”
said C.A.R. Vice President and Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young.  “As
the market continues to improve, more previously underwater homeowners will
look toward selling
, making housing inventory less scarce in 2014.  As a
result of these factors, we’ll see home price increases moderate from the
double-digit increases we saw for much of this year to mid-single digits in
most of the state.”

C.A.R. also forecasts a growth in the U.S. Gross Domestic Product of 2.8
percent in 2014, following an expected 1.8 percent gain in 2013.   Nonfarm jobs will grow by 1.9 percent in
California, and the state’s unemployment rate should decrease from 9 percent to
8.3 percent.  The average for 30-year
fixed mortgage interest rates will rise to 5.3 percent but will still remain at
historically low levels.

Appleton-Young said “The wildcards for 2014 include federal, fiscal,
monetary and housing policies – such as the mortgage interest deduction and
mortgage finance reform – as well as housing supply and the actions of the
Federal Reserve, which will ensure a higher rate environment.”

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