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What Is The Current State Of The US Housing Market?
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As we have weathered through the recession and now the less-than-stellar recovery, it is perhaps beneficial to take a glance at one of the fundamental problems in our economy to see if there has been any real improvement. The collapse of the U.S. housing market, in whichsales and prices have dropped so considerably, was one of the main causes of the recession in conjunction with the financial crisis in 2008. Our economy may not truly recover until this facet bottoms out and starts its slow climb back up.

Three housing related reports were recently released that give us some insight into the current state of the U.S. housing market. The New Residential Sales report for September 2011 was jointly released by the U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development on October 26, 2011.The S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices report for 10-City and 20-CityComposite Home Price Indices was released on October 25, 2011.And finally, the National Association of Realtors released the pending home sales index report on October 27, 2011.

The new residential sales report indicates that new single family home sales were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 313,000 for September 2011.The median sales price of new houses sold in September was $204,400 with an average sales price of $243,900.For comparison, the peak month in 2011 occurred in April, in which 323,000 units were sold.Also in April, the median sales price was $217,900 and the average sales pricewas $268,900.

The Case-Shiller report, which includes data through August 2011, has indicated that home price indices in some markets have recently decreased less, but the overall trend since August of last year is a 3.8% decrease for the 20-City composite.The 10-City composite changed -3.5% since August 2010.Home price indices are less than they were one year ago.

The National Association of Realtors pending home sales index report indicates that pending home sales decreased 4.6% in September 2011 when compared to August 2011. Pending home sales are, however, 6.4% higher in September 2011 when compared to September 2010.

So what does this all mean?

It most likely means that the U.S. housing market is still in decline and has not bottomed out, but the rate of the decline may be slowing. Now there are other factors to consider as each individual real estate market may decline or recover at different rates. This data represent the U.S. housing market as a wholeand may not be indicative of what is happening in your local market.Also, there are seasonal variations as this data reflects the traditionally higher sales in the spring and early summer market. It is quite clear that the spring market was not able to turn the housing market around, and we are now heading into a traditionally slower time of year for the real estate industry.

How does this affect consumers?

It really depends on your current situation.If you are a current homeowner, you are probably not enjoying the reduced home value and shrinking equity in your home.If you are trying to sell your home, you may beexperiencing significantly longer listing times without a lot of interest in your home from potential buyers.

On the flip side, this can be good news for consumers who are looking to buy real estate. Lower and more affordable home prices in conjunction withhistorically low interest rates present great deals to consumers,as long as they can qualify for financing. The key for consumers, especially those whose financial situation was negatively affected by the recession, is to make themselves more financially attractive to potential lenders. Credit improvement is one of the best ways to increase their chances of qualifying for a loan for a home or any other item.

In reality, consumers who improve their credit situation by learning ways to improve credit scores will be allowing themselves to enter the ground floor of the best buyer’s market in a really long time. An oversupply of affordable homes on the market with low demand means that they will have a much easier time finding the home of their dreams. This trend should continue into the foreseeable future, and those consumers who learn ways to improve credit scores nowcan be the oneswho position themselves to take full advantage of the great bargains that are out there.


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