Condition of the housing market

Date posted: April 18, 2011

The housing market has struggled for several years now, and N.C. State University economist Mike Walden says we may have reached a bottom.

“Well let me use this as a status report … on the housing market, and let’s look at the various elements. Let’s look first at foreclosures. Unfortunately, foreclosures are still rising, but they are rising at a much more modest rate than we saw a couple — two, three — years ago.

“The percentage of home that are vacant, that is a very important sign of the condition of the housing market. The percentage of homes that are vacant (has) actually been falling — but slightly. So that is good news.

“Prices, the price that people can sell their home for — in some markets, still going down; other markets, slight improvement. So we would argue overall prices are still soft. People in most markets who are buying are really in the driver’s seat. They can negotiate for a good price.

“Mortgage rates, very important for buyers, have gone up about a full percentage point in the last couple of months, but they are still low. They are still actually below pre-recessionary levels.

“Probably the biggest negative in the housing market right now … is the building of new homes. Still very, very, very low. We are only at 25 percent of pre-recessionary levels in terms of construction.

“So I think, in conclusion here, I would say that the housing market is either at a bottom or very near one.”

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