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Some Positive Signs in 2011 for Real Estate

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Sign of the times? Foreclosures are still a problem, but there's good things happening in the real estate market says Goizueta's Roy Black. PHOTO: Nick Bastian/Flickr.com

Roy Black, a professor in the practice of finance and head of the real estate program at Goizueta, says recovery in the U.S. housing market is one of the top issues to watch as 2011 progresses.

“The housing market will continue to be sluggish, although there are positive trends developing,” Black said. “The percentage of U.S. households owning houses dropped from a high of 69 percent down to 66 percent as job losses and poorly underwritten loans resulted in foreclosures and short sales, with investors absorbing some of the formerly owner-occupied inventory.”

Black said low interest rates would normally provide a stimulus to the market but the leftovers from the Great Recession make economic trends, like unemployment, drive the market.

But there’s good news in the National Association of Realtors current U.S. economic outlook and an upward trend in existing home sales and new home starts.

“New home starts is an important number, as it shows confidence by homebuilders as they put new product on the market,” Black said. “Existing home prices and new home prices are projected to decline through the second quarter of 2011, then begin a positive upward trend through the second quarter of 2012.”

Rampant foreclosures from bad loans were on the front end of the economic downturn. They have remained a staple of the current political and financial climate.

But they’re also an area with signs of good news.

Realty Trac reports an 8.71 percent increase in foreclosures sold from October to November,” Black said. “While this may seem a negative, the properties listed for foreclosure must clear the market for a recovery to take place.”

Black said new foreclosures dropped 1.75 percent in the last two months of 2010 while the average foreclosure sales price climbed 1.96 percent.

“These trends would have to continue for a sustained period before a recovery can become official, but most housing indicators are pointed in the right direction. What remains to be seen is what the ‘new normal’ will look like when the housing markets return to equlibrium.”

If trends hold true, Black said the nation is in for a real estate market with new characteristics post-recovery.

“Each time that there is a major downturn in residential and commercial real estate markets, the markets emerge into recovery with a different look and feel,” he said. “All signs point to a recovery trend in 2011 continuing into 2012, but much depends on the recovery of the economy in general.”

Black says consumers can watch the median price of existing and new home sales and time on market for residential properties to track improvement. If prices go up and time goes down, the real estate market “is indeed on the road to recovery.”

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