Housing price peaked in early 2006. In late 2006 to 2007, home values started plummeting. Since this downturn, the average home in the U.S. has loss about a third of its value. In some areas of the country, such as Las Vegas, Phoenix and Miami, homes prices have fallen 50 to 60 percent.
According to the Fiserv Case-Shiller Index—a measurement of the average change in home prices throughout the country, which includes 3000 zip codes and 100 metropolitan areas, at the end of Q2, single-family homes have lost 5.9 percent in value, year-to-date. Fiserv expects the decline to continue into 2012. Homeowners may see an additional drop of 3.6 percent through Q2-2012.
From Q2- 2012 to Q2-2013, Fiserv predicts housing prices to start moving up, gaining 2.4 percent. The company says 95 percent of the areas tracked by its index should experience some sort of rise in value in the second half of next year.
Reuters’ recent poll of 27 housing market analysts concluded that housing prices would remain sluggish in 2012—rising about one percent. The consensus view among the market forecasters nixes any expectations of a recovery until 2013.
The backlog of unsold homes and shadow inventory of homes in the foreclosure funnel have kept home prices depressed. Even with interest rates at unprecedented lows, the policies implemented by the Federal Reserve and elected officials, designed to improve the economy and stimulate home buying, have been unsuccessful.
Sellers Must List Homes at the “Right” Price
For many people, their homes represent their largest investment. Many homeowners who want to sell have chosen—voluntarily or involuntarily—to remain in their homes until the market recovers. Many hope to recoup some of the loss equity they counted on to help fund their retirements.
Sellers, who decide to put their homes on the market in 2012, need to follow basic rules for making their property attractive to potential buyers. This includes enhancing curb appeal and making minor repairs as necessary. Above all else, price the home correctly.
Agents responding to a HomeGain National Home Values Survey state, 75 percent of homeowners put a higher value on their property than the fair market value determined by real estate agents. Fifty percent of homeowners believe their home value to be ten percent higher than the actual market value.
Some sellers, who want to ensure they receive market value for their homes, pay the fee to obtain their own appraisal. If you elect to obtain your own appraisal, which can help in marketing the property, keep in mind, lenders rely on neighborhood comparables from the last 90 days, says 40-year veteran appraiser and president of the Appraisal Institute, Joe Magdziarz.
Refinance Mortgage to Reduce Interest Paid
With super low interest rates, homeowners who have decided to stay put, and have the resources to finance a higher monthly mortgage payment, may want to consider refinancing to a fixed-rate mortgage, with a shorter term. This move could save tens of thousands of dollars over the course of the loan.
For example a $275,000 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, with a 4.0 interest rate, refinanced to a 15-year, fixed-rate mortgage at 3.55 percent interest, saves the homeowner about $117,550 in interest over the course of the loan. The monthly mortgage payment increases an additional $660.
Buyers Should Consider Downsizing
Even with low real estate values, attractive interest rates and a buyer’s paradise, downsizing has become a buzzword for buyers other than “empty nesters.”
Today, an anemic economy has forced many Americans to move to smaller, more affordable homes. Seeing the wisdom of avoiding supersize homes, others have voluntarily decided to scale down their dreams of a big house, favoring simplicity, contributing to a better environment or reducing cash outlays for housing costs.
A smaller house means less time cleaning, sensible utility bills and reduced maintenance. The money buyers save also has a direct impact on lifestyle. Instead of spending time and resources on the upkeep of a large home, homeowners can splurge on traveling, pursue a hobby or devote more quality time to the family.
Many people enjoy the peace of mind that come with eliminating ridiculously high mortgage payments, utility bills large enough to pay a mortgage or fear of the next property tax assessment.
Real estate sellers and buyers do not operate in a vacuum and must consider two factors that may have bearing on the 2012 real estate market-- the domestic economy and European Union (EU) financial issues. Both dynamics add risk to the real estate market headed into 2012.
Many experts believe the solutions to fixing the American economy hinge on creating jobs, helping homeowners with mortgages underwater and solving the foreclosure problem—no small feats, but necessary for a stable economy.
In additional, worsening of the European financial crisis could have negative consequences for the already weak American economy—sending it into another recession and sinking home values even lower.