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2007 Real Estate Outlook Not as Bleak as Expected

by Jeanette Fisher

Even thought it has slowed, the U.S. housing market hasn't gone into the swoon predicted by many economists, which is good news for most Americans. The market is still flat and overall home sales haven't been this slow since back in 1991, but there are signs that lower financing costs and falling prices are beginning to lure buyers back. The overall market is down 8.5% from the previous year, but according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR) index of signed purchase agreements, home sales actually rose .7% in February after declining 4.2% in January.

However, the overall outlook doesn't seem to be as bleak as economists predicted, and some areas of the country are increasing slowly, though much of the country continues to be flat or in a slight decline. Around the country, the NAR report showed that pending sales on existing homes increased in the South (4.5%) and Midwest (2.9%) but declined in the West (6%) and Northeast (1.3%). The decline in home prices was most significant in coastal areas, where prices had been increasing at a rate which most economists had said was unsustainable, and it appears that they were correct.

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There's a general agreement that the rapid increase in home prices over the past few years was fueled in significant part by speculation. Investors saw escalating home values, coupled with low interest rates and positive economic conditions, as a way to make a quick profit, sometimes as much as 50% in a single year in some markets as opposed to the national average of 10%. However, those days seem to be over for the foreseeable future, and many investors have begun selling off their properties, causing supply to outstrip demand and forcing prices even lower.

However, there is some good news amid all of the conflicting statiof the early 80s or 90s. Sstics. First, most economists don't expect the overall decline in the market to be anywhere near the freefall second, if you've been dreaming of being able to buy your own home but have been kept out of the market by the dizzying spiral of rising prices over the past few years, this may be your chance to finally realize your dream.

America's overall housing market may not have been able to sustain the frenzied pace it had been experiencing, but most economists agree that the current downturn represents a market correction and that home ownership remains a wise choice for most people.

Copyright © 2007 Jeanette J. Fisher

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