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U.S. Housing Market Finally Reaches a Turning Point

Home valuations will start to climb again while adjacent consumer industries will capture significant new growth opportunities in 2012 and beyond as the U.S. housing market finally turns the corner concludes a major new study released today by The Demand Institute. According to the study the recovery of the housing market will have far-reaching impacts in the coming years across the United States and international markets as U.S. consumers increase their spending on buying renovating furnishing and maintaining their homes.

Launched in February 2012 and jointly operated by The Conference Board and Nielsen The Demand Institute is a non-profit non-advocacy organization with a mission to illuminate where consumer demand is headed around the world.

The new report "The Shifting Nature of U.S. Housing Demand" predicts that average home prices will increase by up to 1 percent in the second half of 2012. By 2014 home prices will increase by as much as 2.5 percent. From 2015 to 2017 the study projects annual increases between 3 and 4 percent. This recovery will not be uniform across the country and the strongest markets could capture average gains of 5 percent or more in the coming years.

Between 2006 and 2011 some $7 trillion in American wealth was wiped out when home prices dropped 30 percent after dramatic climb in valuations during the housing bubble. Looking forward the moderate growth expectations for coming years suggest a return to normalcy. As home prices continue to drop and interest rates fall further first-time buyers and others who remained relatively cautious will be drawn back into the housing market. And as the market recovers so too will consumer spending.

In addition to the projected gains in home prices the report discusses in detail the dynamics at work in the U.S. housing market and the impacts across industries. Here are further highlights from the report:
Rental demand will help to clear the huge oversupply of existing homes for sale. In 2011 some 14 percent of all housing units were vacant while almost 13 percent of mortgages were in foreclosure or delinquent-increases of 12 and 129 percent respectively over 2005 levels. It will take two to three years for this oversupply to be cleared and at that point homeownership rates will rise and return to historical levels.
The housing market recovery will not be uniform across the country. Some states will see annual price gains of 5 percent or more. Others will not recover for many years. The deciding factors will include the level of foreclosed inventory and rates of unemployment.
The average size of the American home will shrink. Many baby boomers who delayed retirement for financial reasons during the recession will downsize. They will not be alone. The majority of Americans have seen little or no wage increase for several years and many will scale back their housing aspirations. The size of an average new home is expected to continue to fall reaching mid-1990s levels by 2015.
Consumer industries including financial services home furnishings home remodeling will all experience shifts in demand and new growth opportunities. Part of this spending is linked to increases in wealth from improving home valuations while an even bigger part is tied to the "transaction" of buying or selling the home which sets in motion increased demand for a wide range of products and services.
Despite the number of Americans who have been hurt financially by the housing crash the desire to own a home remains strong. We do not expect to see a long-term drop in ownership rates. Indeed one survey has revealed that more than 80 percent of Americans recently thought buying a home remained the best long-term investment they could make.

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