2012: Buying a Home Won’t Get Any Cheaper
09 Wednesday May 2012
Buying a home may never get any cheaper than this. Several housing experts are predicting that this year will be the last chance for bargain hunters to cash in on the best deals of the weak housing market.
With home prices down 34% nationally since 2006 and mortgage rates at historic lows, homes have never been more affordable — but it won’t stay this way for much longer. Stuart Hoffman, chief economist for PNC Financial Services said he expects home prices to flatten out by the third quarter and start climbing by next year. A number of factors will help bolster the housing market, he said, including a decline in the number of foreclosures and continued job growth.
Foreclosures start to fade. One major factor that will drive the trend is the cooling of the foreclosure crisis. Stan Humphries, chief economist for Zillow, said that the percentage of mortgage loans 90 days or more late, a good predictor of future foreclosures, is “falling fast.”
Before things slow down, however, buyers should brace themselves for a temporary spike in the number of foreclosures as banks start expediting the processing of hundreds of thousands foreclosures that were stuck in the system following the robo-signing scandal.
Goodbye 3.8% mortgage. In addition to home prices, mortgages could also move higher.
Mortgage rates have been at or near historic lows for much of the past six months. The average interest rate for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage has not topped 4.5% since July 2011 and this week, it hit 3.84%, a new low.
But rates aren’t expected to remain at these record-low levels much longer. As the economy continues to recover, rates will move higher. The Mortgage Bankers Association is forecasting that the 30-year fixed will hit 4.5% by the end of the year. Greater demand for loans will help fuel the increase.
The Mortgage Bankers Association estimates that homebuyers will take out mortgage loans totaling about $415 billion this year, an increase of less than 3% compared with 2011. Next year, however, it forecasts that amount will almost double to $706 billion. - CNN