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3 Notable Trends in the Housing Market

Photo: © Steve Hull - iStockphoto

The housing market is changing and, fortunately for the economy, many Americans believe those changes are in the right direction. In Fannie Mae's October 2012 National Housing Survey, 72 percent of respondents believed it was a good time to buy a home. With 30-year and 15-year fixed mortgage rates sitting near all-time lows, buyers are able to buy more home for a lot less cash. And with 50 percent of survey respondents expecting home rental prices to rise, paying a monthly mortgage might be the more budget-friendly option.

1. Homebuyer Demographics
The number of dual-income buyers is increasing, while fewer single-income buyers are signing real estate contracts. With lenders setting strict credit standards, buyers with dual incomes have an easier time qualifying for a mortgage. According to the 2012 National Association of Realtors' Home Buyers and Sellers Profile, 65 percent of all buyers were married couples, while 8 percent were unmarried couples; this sits in stark contrast with the number of single women and men buying homes, at 16 and 9 percent respectively. Two years ago, 20 percent of all buyers were single women and 12 percent were single men.

2. More Buyers Are Paying in Cash
Ten years ago, all-cash purchases accounted for less than 10 percent of the housing market; since 2008, the number of homes bought with cash has increased steadily, accounting for up to 30 percent of the market. Most cash buyers are investors looking to take advantage of affordable prices, but an increasing number of international buyers are entering the housing market with money in hand. Cash is the preferred method of payment for overseas buyers. According to NAR, 62 percent of international homebuyers paid in cash.

3. National Home Prices Are Increasing
Of all the homes sold in 2012, 39 percent were bought by first-time buyers, up from 37 percent in 2011. NAR economists believe these first-time buyers made a good investment. The national median existing-home price should rise 6 percent in 2012 to $176,100, and another 5.1 percent in 2013 to $185,200. Over the next three years, real estate values are expected to rise 15 percent cumulatively. With the rising prices, more first-time buyers will be protected against inflation while fewer existing homeowners will find their properties underwater.