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Notary Bulletin

Housing Market Getting ‘Healthier’ — But Slowly

Housing-Market-Rebound-Resized.jpgThe nation’s housing market is continuing its slow but steady improvement, helped most recently by a slowdown in home-price growth according to a recent report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

With home prices stabilizing, potential buyers will be less likely to be scared off, and that could translate into more home sales and more assignments for Notary signing agents. Nationwide, the median existing, single-family home price increased 4.4 percent in the second quarter of 2014 over the same period a year ago. That’s a significant drop from the first quarter of 2014, which saw an 8.3-percent jump in median home prices.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said that the current rise in home prices, which began in early 2012, had hit “unsustainable levels given the current pace of inflation and wage growth,” he said.

This slower but healthier rate of growth will allow homeowners to steadily build equity while moderate price gains — coupled with an increase in the housing supply — will create more opportunities for buyers.

Total inventory of existing homes reached 2.3 million by the end of June 2014. That was 6.5 percent more than a year ago.

Yun noted that some markets — mostly on the West Coast where inventory shortages are more prevalent — still saw sharp increases in home prices. “New construction is needed to alleviate price pressures and accommodate their growing populations,” he said.

Overall in the second quarter, median home prices increased in 71 percent of markets used in the report compared to the previous year, while 27 percent posted price drops.

Here’s how home-prices fared by region:

  • The Northeast saw a 0.9-percent drop.
  • The Midwest posted a 4.4-percent increase.
  • The South saw prices rise 3.7 percent.
  • In the West prices went up 7.3 percent.

Throughout the first half of 2014, total home sales lagged behind 2013 by about 5 percent, but Yun expects to see a solid finish. The combination of reasonable price growth, increasing inventories and an improving economy should boost consumer confidence. As a result, Yun expects sales to rebound and roughly equal 2013’s total by the end of the year.

Michael Lewis is the Managing Editor of member publications for the National Notary Association.

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