February brought a stream of good news for the Housing market.
First of all, the number of foreclosures dropped by 29% from the prior year. This is the lowest level since September of 2007, and half the record level of March 2010. While there is still an overhang of foreclosures in places like California and Arizona, it seems that the worst of the crisis is over. The improvement in foreclosures is attributed to a combination of a stronger housing market, low mortgage rates, more short sales, and more efforts by lenders to keep people in their homes.
Secondly, the improved housing market had lowered the number of underwater homeowners. The latest data, for the first 9 months of 2012, shows 1.4 million homeowners crossing over from deficit to equity in their homes. As we have the past (see our 11/21/2012 Blog “Wall Street Back in the Housing Business”), we continue to urge underwater homeowners to negotiate hard and work to hold on to their homes to benefit from the surge in home values.
Lastly, the inventory of homes available for sale is falling and in some places it is already a seller’s market. As a result, homes are selling faster and at better prices. We have entered the early stages of the housing turnaround and now is the time to jump in if you do not already own a home. With mortgage rates are the lowest levels in memory, this is a once in a generation opportunity.
So if you’re in, stay in. If you’re out, get in. Just don’t miss it.