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President’s Corner A light increase in home sales in economic recovery

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Kerry Suess

Posted: Friday, September 30, 2011 12:00 am

Last week there was a small group of us from the Lodi Association of Realtors who attended the California Association of Realtors Directors meetings in San Jose. Despite some of the guilty pleasures of really good dining we were able to stay awake for the long days of informative meetings. CAR’s California Housing Market Forecast for 2012 was one of the hot topics. Everyone wants to know when the housing market has hit the bottom. Well here is the report as given by Claudine Thomas.

California home sales and median price are predicted to rise slightly in 2012 according to California Association of Realtors’ ‘2012 California Housing Market Forecast’. The forecast for next year is said to see a 1 percent increase to 496,200 units, following essentially flat sales of 491,100 homes this year compared to the 491,500 homes sold in 2010.

The CAR says the increase is a minor one because of the continuation of the tepid economic recovery, uncertainty about the future, and funding challenges for residential mortgages are expected to keep the market moving sideways, with little foreseeable momentum in either direction.

California’s median home price will rise 1.7 percent to $296,000 in 2012, according to the forecast. Following a double-digit increase in the median price in 2010, the median home price will decrease a projected 4 percent in 2011 to $291,000, according to CAR.

‘Despite the run of unforeseen global events in the first half of this year that slowed the overall economy, 2011 home sales are projected to essentially remain unchanged from last year,’ CAR President Beth L. Peerce said in a statement.

‘Looking ahead, the fundamentals of the housing market – such as low mortgage rates, high housing affordability, and favorable home prices – are expected to continue, but at this point, a strong housing recovery will depend on consumer confidence, job creation, and the availability and cost of home loans.’

Some are pleased to see any kind of increase, be it small, than not at all. Although now is the best time to buy a house than ever because of prices, interest rates, and supply Americans just don’t have the confidence to buy. If they do and have the money saved up for a down payment they decide to stand back and ‘watch’ the market.

‘Discretionary sellers will play a larger role in next year’s housing market,’ said Peerce. ‘Those who held off selling in 2011 may list their homes in 2012, thereby improving the mix of homes for sale compared with the last few years. Additionally, distressed sales will remain an important segment of the overall market as lenders continue to work through the foreclosure process.’

Besides discussions about the market we looked at what the government is doing to help homeowners keep their homes or help them to maintain the ability to purchase a new home. Unless Congress acts, the current loan limits will have expired on Sept. 30 and the cost of a mortgage could rise significantly. More than 30,000 California families will face higher down payments, higher mortgage rates, and stricter loan qualification requirements if conforming loan limits on mortgages backed by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac are reduced beginning Oct. 1, 2011, according to analysis by CAR.

We are also facing battles to save the Mortgage Interest Deduction that has been a benefit and an incentive for homeowners for many years. The fight goes on to help California homeowners. CAR knows that short sales will be a part of the California real estate landscape for years to come, and is highly aware that lenders’ requirements have made closing these transactions a difficult process. To that end, CAR recently sent letters to the heads of the nation’s largest lenders — JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo — calling them out on their short-sale practices and making recommendations on how the process can be improved for all parties involved.

There is way too much information to share in just one week. I look forward to giving you a report from the Department of Real Estate and how you can report suspected fraud and other vital information. There is continued optimism from many who have purchased or sold property using a Realtor. To get a lift from all the, not necessarily great news go to

Remember that whenever you have questions about real estate to always consult a Realtor and for questions, comments or ideas about these articles contact Kerry Suess at