When will home prices begin to increase?

Nationwide, the US housing market remains deep in the doldrums and economists expect prices to fall another 5% to 10% in many places. 

When the rebound arrives, desirable zip codes will see price jumps first.  Real estate is always local.  

Here are a few things to start watching in your neighborhood: 

How fast are homes selling?  It is a good sign when price drops slowly down, inventory levels are actually a better gauge of where your market is headed.  Ask a Realtor to tell you the number of listings now on the market in your area and the number of homes sold over the past year.  An example would be that there are 100 listings and there were 240 sales last year, or an average of 20 per month.  That equals a five-month supply, which is considered stable.  More than six months and it’s a buyer’s market; less than three and sellers probably have the upper hand. 

Compare your neighborhood’s price-to-rent ratio with what it was before the housing boom.  Calculate the price-to-rent ratio, or the price of a home divided by one year’s rent on a comparable one.  In general, it’s cheaper to buy when the price-to-rent ratio is below 15. 

A decrease in foreclosure filing is often an encouraging sign but not always the case depending on the processing delays in foreclosures.   Distressed owners tend to fall behind on lawn cutting and house painting long before a foreclosure.  If you see several places in disrepair, don’t expect your home value to rise soon. 

If you area is a prime location.  As buyers return, they naturally grab places with short commutes and better schools and amenities which will help increase the sales price.

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