We’re headed into spring, the prime buying/selling season for real estate, accompanied by some upbeat news. Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors came to town, bringing with him positive info about the national and local real estate scene.
The St. Louis region has upped home sales by 3.5 percent in December 2011 compared to December 2010. Yun is forecasting an even better 2012 with a four percent increase in home sales. Combine still low interest rates with low home prices, and that supports the best housing affordability conditions in 30 years. Yun also noted that existing inventory is shrinking and rents are rising.
Housing goes hand-in-hand with several other economic indicators, mainly the employment situation and the stock market. There is a modest jobs recovery–the national unemployment rate is around 8.5 percent while in St. Charles the rate is 6.6 percent–and we are feeling a bit more secure, enough to re-enter the stock market and consider investing less of a risk. This information was provided by the Economic Development Center of St. Charles County, a co-sponsor with the St. Charles County Association of Realtors.
Another bright spot–The January 2012 report from HUD and the U.S. Census Bureau on new residential construction shows a 6.2 percent gain in building permits from January 2011 to January 2012 and housing starts rose 16.2 percent in the same time period.
The yearly gains are encouraging, but we’re still in a step-by-step recovery for both existing and new homes. A responsible, sustainable approach will create a stable real estate market to benefit buyers and sellers.