There are good reasons for having short expectations for sales this year. The reasons The multi-year honeymoon of mortgage rates consistently south of 4 percent are clearly over, and Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen has made it clear the Fed is set on a policy of gradual rate increases this year. Painfully low inventories of homes for sale will continue to cripple sales at least through the first quarter, as early reports suggest new listings are coming in fast enough to fill the depleted state of supplies at the end of last year (see "December’s numbers are in: How’s the real estate market looking?"). Prices have now reached their all-time peaks, which is good news for owners but not so good for many buyers whose incomes aren’t keeping up and who are getting priced out of many local markets. Then there’s the new administration and Congress, both of which won millions of votes on the promise of strengthening the economy. Even though it enjoys bi-partisan sup...
- Will this be the second straight year the growth of sales has fallen -- the beginning of a multi-year downward trend?
- If there aren’t enough homes to meet demand, it’s a sure bet sales will fall. Track inventory in your market.
- New sales contracts with buyers, traffic at open houses, lockbox data -- these are ways to check the pulse on demand.
- Many MLSs and NAR report pending sales contracts accepted by sellers, which are forward-looking indicators.
- Some housing economists (NAR, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac) update their forecasts on a monthly basis.