And they may find them. A monthly survey from Fannie Mae found that the percentage of respondents who say it is a good time to sell rose by 3 percentage points to 13 percent, the highest level in over a year, while the percentage of respondents who say it is a good time to buy dropped 1 percentage point to 70 percent this month.
Respondents also said they expect rental prices to rise 3.5 percent over the next year, a slight increase since January. This in the face of new record affordability, according to the National Association of Realtors, whose affordability index broke the 200 mark for the first time ever. "100 is defined as the point where a median-income household has exactly enough income to qualify for the purchase of a median-priced existing single-family home, assuming a 20 percent down payment and 25 percent of gross income devoted to mortgage principal and interest payments," according to the Realtors.
So what are we to take from this onslaught of data and perception? Housing is moving again. Buyers are coming out of the woodwork, but make no mistake, there will be no great surge in prices and no return to "normalcy" any time soon. There is still far to much distress left over, especially in states where foreclosures require a judge, and it will take years to move through that distress. Prices nationally will falter more and then stay flat, but in certain markets where investors are driving sales and where prices dropped the most, we will see faster appreciation. In states like New Jersey and New York, where foreclosures will clog the system for years, prices drops will be steeper and longer.
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