Saturday, January 22, 2011

MARKET ON THE RISE? Forecasters expect home sales to rise

ORLANDO, Fla. — The housing market could gradually begin to emerge from its doldrums this year, industry analysts said yesterday, but their forecast depends on a steady ramp-up in hiring and for the US jobless rate to get no worse than it is right now.

And even if their outlook proves true, a full housing recovery is still more than two years away. The forecast delivered at the International Builders’ Show sees economic growth sharply lifting home sales and residential construction over the next two years, but from near-historic lows posted last year.

Many home builders, however, remain unconvinced that a recovery is brewing. Most, like Lennar Corp., at best see the market not getting any worse.

Still, forecasts by David Crowe, chief economist for the National Association of Home Builders, and Freddie Mac chief economist Frank Nothaft are cautiously optimistic.

Crowe’s forecast hinges on the US jobless rate getting no worse than 9.4 percent and employment growth accelerating to a pace of 200,000 jobs a month by the end of 2012.

“Home sales are going to struggle, but they will follow employment,’’ Crowe said.

Single-family home construction will rise 21 percent to 575,000 this year, Crowe said.

Nothaft also sees home construction rising about 20 percent.

Associated Press January 13, 2011

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