Markets & Economy

Chief economists mostly bullish on 2015 housing market

Low inventory, decreasing affordability and negative equity remain concerns

NEW YORK -- Four chief economists from some of the nation's most popular real estate websites are optimistic about the housing market this year, citing an expected increase in home sales, and low mortgage rates and oil prices leaving more money in consumers' pockets. Still, low inventory, decreasing home affordability and negative equity continue to be concerns, the economists told attendees at Real Estate Connect today. "Home prices are going to rise more slowly this year than last year, but faster than incomes," said Jonathan Smoke, chief economist for realtor.com. "Buyers want a lot of homes for sale ... at a price point they can expense over 30 years," said Nela Richardson, chief economist for real estate brokerage and referral site Redfin. There continue to be high rates of negative equity -- where borrowers owe more on their mortgage than their house is worth -- which can prevent homeowners from putting their homes on the market or lead to short sales. In the latter c...