submitted by Kathleen Layton, Realtor, Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Fox & Roach, Realtors – Newtown Office
Well…It’s official. The real estate market is finally back. Not to pre-crash levels of course, but firmly on solid ground and gaining.
After nearly a decade of despair reminiscent of the Great Depression, 2013 has seen real estate change from being a ball and chain around the neck of millions of Americans to an asset that has been one of the few bright lights helping to move this stubbornly sluggish economy forward.
While the housing market is still somewhat volatile, the “experts” are calling for increases in 2014 ranging from 5% over 2013 levels to 10-15% higher. In Bucks County, the number of units sold increased 20% over 2012 totals.
Nationally, home prices continue to rise faster than they have since the housing boom. The average sale price in Bucks County of $322,592 was up 2.3% and it took an average of 77 days for a house to sell, down 19% over the previous year.
Another key factor on the rise is mortgage interest rates, which have come up almost a point in 2013 and are now hovering around 4.5%. Expect them to rise even higher in 2014, possibly close to the 6% mark by the end of the year. Also expect to be put through the wringer if you’re applying for a mortgage this year. Lenders and underwriters are still re-living the horrors of the mortgage debacle and even immensely qualified buyers are paying the price through excessive documentation, explanation and all around hoop jumping.
We’ve returned to a “normal” real estate market, where neither party should consider themselves in the driver’s seat.