First Half Review: Housing Is Doing Well!

The first half of 2016 has proven to be a boom to real estate, writes Jonathan Smoke, realtor.com®’s chief economist in his monthly column. Total home sales are up 5 percent compared to the first half of 2015 and median existing home prices are up 5 percent as of June, setting a new record. Also, a rise in equity for home owners may encourage them to consider selling.

Yet, Smoke doesn’t expect the strong market to stay this strong in the second half of the year.

“All ages have been tempted by near-record lows in mortgage rates prompted by global economic weakness and instability driving investors toward U.S. bonds,” Smoke writes in his latest column. “But even with all that demand, the market can grow only so much, because of the limited inventory of homes for sale.

“As long as [mortgage] rates do not increase substantially in a short period of time, the real estate market should remain strong,” Smoke says. “The underlying reason for higher rates is a stronger economy; so the benefits of that will offset the impact of marginally higher rates. A stronger economy, more jobs, lower unemployment, and higher wages will power demand. Higher rates will also likely help loosen credit. Those positive conditions coupled with demographic tailwinds from millennials and boomers will keep the U.S. housing market healthy and strong for at least two more years.”

Source: “Housing Had a Great First Half of 2016, But Will It Last?” realtor.com® (July 28, 2016)