In their never-ending quest to put a positive spin on the housing market (it is, after all, their bread and butter), the Realtors (National Association of Realtors) today changed the way they report their annual housing forecast.
Usually, they just put the current year’s predictions of sales and prices and then the following year’s predictions.
This month they divided the current year into two parts, saying that existing home sales would run at an annual rate of 4.9 million units and then rise “notably” to 5.8 million units. This prediction is based on an assumption that Congress, as part of the stimulus package, will raise the GSE loan limits. We'll see.
On another note, the deputy director of the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, Edward DeMarco, told an audience of securities analysts that OFHEO will start publishing a monthly index of home prices in addition to its current quarterly report.
This is in an effort to track trends better. Remember, OFHEO tracks prices on homes with conforming loans, that’s anything under $417,000, so it’s not the high-end stuff. DeMarco also said mortgage delinquencies have been rising across the board, from subprime to prime.
Also today, the chiefs of Fannie and Freddie are on the Hill, along with OFHEO, to talk about GSE regulatory reform. The proposal to raise the GSE loan limits is in the House-passed stimulus package, but Finance Committee Chairman Barney Frank has said that without GSE reform, he will not allow that temporary lift in the limit to extend past the end of this year.