2011 was supposed to ratchet up steady, if not, robust growth in the US economy. However, several economic and geo-political events tripped up the economy during the year that have left would be home buyers dazed and confused about jumping into the housing market.
Here’s what we know–2011 has been wrought with uncertainty and unexpected shocks that has hobbled output in the US and around the globe and caused a huge crisis of confidence for consumers, investors, and businesses alike. The list of wildcards is long: the DC midterm elections, the change of power in the House, the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, the Arab uprising, the oil price shocks, the European debt crisis, the battle over debt ceiling, the downgrading of the US long-term debt, and the fallout with the volatility in the stock market. All of which have left output through the first half of the year below the growth rates that accompany a recovery. The probability of a double-dip recession has gone up and has caused economists far and wide to downgrade their outlook for this year and next.
What does next year have in store for housing?
- While the probability for a double-dip recession is higher, the most likely scenario is for a continuation of the slow-moderate growth we have seen for the last few years. The outlook is for modest but positive growth with GDP coming in at 1.7% in 2011, 2.0% in 2012.
- We are moving forward, albeit bouncing along the bottom for most of 2011 and we can expect the same for next year, with a flat sales forecast for 2011/2012 (-0.1% year-to-year loss in 2011 and 1.0% gain in 2012).
- Prices are expected to come in 4% below 2010 levels and should show a modest gain in 2012 (+1.7% year-over-year).
Overall, we’ve seen uncertainty and a lack of urgency put a damper on the housing market in 2011.
Hopefully, 2012 will prove less uncertain and could even show signs of urgency as current prices and mortgage rates are phenomenal and will not stay this low forever.