WASHINGTON, February 07, 2007 -Consumers are beginning to respond to more favorable housing market conditions, but new home construction will be dampened until inventories decline further, according to the latest forecast by the National Association of RealtorsÂ®.
David Lereah, NARâ€™s chief economist, is looking for a steady rise in existing-home sales. â€œAfter reaching what appears to be the bottom in the fourth quarter of 2006, we expect existing-home sales to gradually rise all this year and well into 2008,â€ he said. â€œNew-home sales should continue to slide, but we look for that sector to turn around later in the year. When you put it all together, home sales may appear weak in comparison with the record surge in 2005, but they will be sustained at historically high levels that are in line with long-term demand.â€
Existing-home sales, after reaching the third highest total on record, 6.48 million in 2006, are forecast at 6.44 million in 2007 and 6.64 million next year. New-home sales, following a fourth-best 1.06 million in 2006, are projected to decline to 961,000 this year and then rise to 971,000 in 2008.
Housing starts are likely to total 1.52 million in 2007, down from 1.80 million units in 2006, and then increase to 1.56 million next year. â€œWhen new home demand begins to catch up with supply, builders will slowly increase construction â€“ probably in the second half of this year,â€ Lereah said.
The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is forecast to rise to 6.7 percent by the second half of the year. Freddie Mac reported the 30-year fixed rate at 6.14 percent in December, but it has been trending up since. â€œMortgage interest rates remain favorable, and a gradual rise means potential buyers have some time to weigh purchase decisions,â€ Lereah said. â€œWhen existing-home supplies become more balanced between buyers and sellers this spring, weâ€™ll see some modest price gains.â€
The national median existing-home price should grow 1.9 percent to $226,200 in 2007, after rising only 1.1 percent in 2006. The median new-home price is expected to increase 1.8 percent to $249,800 in 2007, following a similar gain last year. Stronger gains are forecast for 2008, with existing-home prices rising 3.2 percent and new-home prices increasing 3.4 percent.
The unemployment rate is seen to average 4.7 percent in 2007, compared with 4.6 percent last year. Inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index, is projected at 2.0 percent this year, down from 3.2 percent in 2006, while growth in the U.S. gross domestic product is likely to be 2.8 percent in 2007, down from 3.4 percent last year. Inflation-adjusted disposable personal income will probably rise 3.7 percent in 2007, up from a gain of 2.7 percent in 2006.
The National Association of RealtorsÂ®, â€œThe Voice for Real Estate,â€ is Americaâ€™s largest trade association, representing more than 1.3 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.
Bennington VT, Press Release, Buying, Selling, First Time Buyers