Real estate experts are calling the current housing market “bipolar”, citing the rise in sales and prices on one hand and the hike in interest rates and repossessions on the other.
The final diagnosis: negative in the short term, but turning positive by the end of the year.
According to a CNNMoney article:
One of market’s biggest hurdles is getting beyond the lapse of the $8,000 homebuyer tax credit. Thanks to the incentive, buyers scrambled to beat the April 30 deadline, pushing new home sales up nearly 30% in March.
But that just borrowed buyers from later months. And now we face the hangover effect.
Industry insiders believe the hangover is worthwhile, however, because the credit helped stabilize housing when it most needed help. Home prices have been steadier in recent months, recently experiencing their first year-over-year rise in more than three years.
Still, there are some strong negatives dragging on the market.
1. Interest rates have been intermittently creeping up. Although nobody expects 6% until at least 2011, the days of 4.5% mortgages are behind us.
2. Bank repossessions are on track to surpass a million homes in 2010. But at least foreclosure filings fell in April, the first time since RealtyTrac began reporting.
3. More than a quarter of borrowers are “underwater,” meaning they owe more than their homes are worth.
4. “Strategic defaults” — where underwater homeowners walkway even when they can still afford to pay — accounted for 31% of all foreclosures in March, according to a recent study.
But there is one factor that has experts really scared: homes that are ready to be sold but haven’t been put on the market. Right now, there could be more than 4.5 million homes in “shadow inventory,” according to a recent report by Barclays Capital.