“Prices are bottoming now,” according to a Bank of America Merrill Lynch forecast, released this week.
In the fall, the analysts had predicted home prices would drop by 8 percent from the second quarter of 2011 through the first quarter of 2013 — but now they’re revising that forecast, realizing the housing market is stabilizing faster than they originally thought.
The analysts now predict that prices will remain flat for the next two years, as the excess foreclosure inventory is absorbed. They then expect to see a pickup in home prices by 2014.
And in the long-term, they see a big rise in housing prices. From 2012 through 2020, analysts forecast a cumulative growth of 42 percent in home prices (at 4 percent on an annualized basis).
Economists say the housing market is starting to heal, but too many people aren’t aware of it because they’re judging a housing recovery on the wrong sign: What’s happening with home prices.
Paul Dales at Capital Economics says higher prices won’t be the sign that the housing market is on the mend — that can be a lagging indicator — but rather an increase in overall home sales. And that’s showing signs of improvement: Existing home sales in 2011 rose to 4.26 million compared to 4.19 million in 2010. In the last six months alone, home sales have increased 13 percent.
As a recent article at Fortune points out, “The evidence reminds us that perhaps we should change our expectations of what a housing recovery might look like, particularly following a crisis marked by record foreclosures and a financial crisis that sent the economy into one of the deepest recessions. The recovery we have been anticipating is defined more on the rate at which the glut of vacant properties comes off the market as opposed to any steady rise in prices, which some think won’t happen for another few years.”