U.S. Housing Market Moving On Up In 2014, But Cautiously

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(photo credit: Thinkstock)

(photo credit: Thinkstock)

Is that glass of 2014 vintage half empty or half full? Mixed 2014 U.S. housing projections reflect the proverbial alternate outlook. Certainly, for potential buyers and sellers, it depends on one’s side of the equation. However, for overall job growth and recovery, rising home prices is still good news coming off their trough.    

Optimists have gone on the record projecting home prices will rise six percent and new housing starts will increase by 25 percent or more. Pessimists point to a slowing rate of housing recovery, a jump in interest rates and improved new housing starts still significantly off their long-term average of 1.5 million.

Here’s how the 2014 glass is interpreted by several housing industry experts.

Glass Half Empty: 2014 Predictions

Zillow: Home values will increase by 4.3 percent, slower than in 2013. Mortgages will rise.

Trulia: For buyers, the cost of a home purchase is going up, both in prices and mortgages. 

National Association of Realtors: Mortgage rates will rise to 5.4 percent by year end.

Freddie Mac: A still sluggish economy will not see real improvement until 2015, or later.

National Association of Homebuilders: Housing starts up from 629,000 in 2013, but not yet robust, reaching 93 percent of target 1.7 million by year end 2015. 

Glass Half Full: 2014 Predictions

Zillow: It will be easier for new borrowers to get mortgages, as lenders loosen up a bit to make up for less demand for refinancing. 

Trulia: Buyers will see more inventory, fewer investors creating frenzied bidding and easier financing. It is a good market for repeat buyers.

National Association of Realtors: House prices will rise by six percent in 2014.

Freddie Mac: All homeowners should be above water on valuations by the end of 2014 and new housing starts will exceed 1 million.

National Association of Homebuilders: New single-family home starts in 2014 at 826,000, reaching over 1 million in 2015.

Where It’s Hot

Trulia’s chief economist Jed Kolko has selected these metropolitan areas as the best growth markets for 2014 based on “strong fundamentals, strong job growth, more construction activity and with prices which are not overvalued or with a lot of foreclosure inventory yet to come.” The list includes: Bethesda-Rockville-Frederick, Md.; Charlotte, N.C.; Denver, Colo.; Fort Worth, Texas; Nashville, Tenn.; Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Okla.; Raleigh, N.C.; Salt Lake City, Utah; Seattle, Wash. In Florida, Kolko notes, some foreclosures are still in the pipeline for 2014. 

Where It’s Not

And what about the runaway increases seen in 2013 in sunbelt Las Vegas, Phoenix, Los Angeles and San Diego as well as San Francisco, San Jose and Sacramento, California? Expect slow growth at more sustainable levels and even some adjustments on Southern California over-valuations.

Laurie JM Farr is a freelance writer covering all things in her adopted San Francisco. A dedicated urbanite, she’s a transplanted New Yorker by way of a couple of decades in London as a hotel sales and marketing manager. Follow her work on @ReferencePlease, USA Today, Yahoo! and on Examiner.com.

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