What’s ahead for home prices?

California remains ahead of the nation in market recovery with many first-time home buyers entering the market due to affordable home prices, low mortgage rates, and first-time home buyer tax credits from the state and federal governments. However, credit still is tight and unemployment remains high, which could hinder a full market recovery until 2011.

MAKING SENSE OF THE STORY…

Home sales in California hit bottom more than two years, and the median home price of an existing, single-family home reached its trough in February, according to data collected by the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (C.A.R.). In November, the state’s median home price rose in year-to-year comparisons for the first time since August 2007.

C.A.R.’s closely watched “2010 California Housing Market Forecast,” projects that the median home price in California will rise 3.3 percent to $280,000 in 2010 compared with a projected median of $271,000 in 2009.

Some economists are forecasting another surge of foreclosures in 2010. However, C.A.R.’s economists expect that foreclosures will remain flat this year compared with 2009. In 2008, many lenders flooded the market with foreclosures, and as a result, the state’s median price declined by historic levels. By comparison, in 2009, lenders listed properties for sale at a more measured pace, which helped moderate another home price decline.

Government efforts to maintain a low interest rate environment have stabilized the market. However, a mortgage analyst at a financial publishing company predicts that rates likely will rise to 5.5 percent by mid-2010 and close the year at 5.75 percent to 6 percent.

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