I usually don’t need to hold a finger up to the wind to feel which direction the housing market is blowing. Or read the latest stat sheets to see if homes are selling or not. No, I have my own barometer to the health of the housing market. If my wife is constantly on her cell phone, it’s good. She’s a realtor. And her phone has been glued to her ear the past year, buying and selling houses for clients. A far cry from the recession years when she actually had the time to talk to me!
Best in 7 years!
So it came as no surprise to me when the latest housing market numbers
came out. After taking quite a beating for several years (some parts of the country worse than others), 2013 turned out to be a big year for housing. How big? The strongest in 7 years! Nationwide, sales of previously owned homes topped the 5 million mark last year. That’s the highest level since 2006. The National Association of Realtors says 5 million brings sales back to a level that’s considered healthy. NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun cites “job growth, record low mortgage interest rates and a large pent-up demand (for) driving the market.”
The news is similar in the Tulsa area. Nearly 13 thousand homes sold last year, a jump of almost nine percent over 2012 and nearly 27 percent from 2011. These stats are from the Greater Tulsa Association of Realtors. “The real estate sales of 2013 are very similar to the numbers that were posted in 2005 and 2006,”
Pete Galbraith, president of Coldwell Banker Select, tells me. Why was 2013 such a good year for housing? Galbraith: “In 2013, we saw the return of the job market and most of all a significant rise in consumer confidence. That coupled with historically low interest rates created a very favorable scenario for home buyers and sellers.”
How about 2014?
Can this rate of growth be sustained in 2014? Hard to tell. Many economists are forecasting more modest gains. Mortgage interest rates are up, and according to Galbraith, “the shrinking inventory of homes for sale that is leading to a fair amount of buyer frustration,” are a couple of reasons why we may not see double-digit gains this year.
I’ll be able to tell you more as the year goes by with my own in-house housing market indicator. Hang on … oh, forget it. I thought my wife was finally off the phone, but she isn’t.