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US housing market report
With US facing the fears of a double dip recession, investments in real estate remains sluggish. However, continuous fall in home prices and mortgage rates have brought in a great opportunity. Though the post-crisis over-cautious approach of lenders and borrowers is still playing spoilsport, current valuations and demographic dynamics may soon change the scenario.
Issue Date - 24/11/2011
Housing crisis continues
Housing boom in the US that began in the late 1990s led to an exponential growth in home sales. In fact, the demand remained quite strong during the period and outpaced the supply of new built as well as old homes on sale. As per reports, average sales of houses stayed at around five million per year. But with the economic crisis coming into picture, demand dipped thick and fast from over five million to less than four million. Since then, inventories have been on a painfully slow drift downward as a drop in demand offset much of the impact of the collapse in home building. However, by August of this year, combined new and existing homes listed for sale have fallen to 3.6 million units, having completed roughly 70% of the journey back to normal.

Mortgage payment at record low

With a sharp dip in mortgage rates, US Families have to leash out very low rates out of their income to pay for mortgages. As per Freddie Mac, by October 7, 2011 mortgage rates have fallen to an average annual level of 3.94%. Assuming the use of a fixed rate mortgage with 20% down, it will make the median mortgage payment on a single family existing home just 6.9% of per household personal income, compared to an average of 14.4% since 1966. While this presents a downside market, it also emphasises on the long-term gain that one can achieve by investing in the cheaper than average houses locking in cheaper long term financing available at present. Because, any demand pull in future will also pull these prices up.


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