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Housing Market Recovery Depends on Jobs and Access to Credit, Says NAR

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RISMEDIA, November 18, 2010—Although the recent trend of rising long-term borrowing rates may mean higher mortgages for consumers in the coming months, the greater obstacles to housing market recovery are job creation and availability of credit, according to a National Association of Realtors analysis. “Modest changes in mortgage rates are less important to a housing market recovery than the number of people who are able to obtain mortgages,” said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun.

Last week, NAR’s Board of Directors approved a credit policy to urge the mortgage lending industry to reassess and amend their policies so more qualified home buyers can become homeowners.

“Currently, the overly tight underwriting standards are holding back the pace of housing market recovery,” said Yun. “In particular, creditworthy small business owners and those who want to purchase investor properties have encountered extreme difficulties in obtaining a mortgage. In contrast, all indications are that recently originated mortgages with Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Housing Administration have solid loan performance, implying that credit is only going to the most well-qualified borrowers. Additional creditworthy borrowers who are willing to stay well within budget and meet reasonable underwriting criteria should be able to obtain a loan to help speed the housing and economic recovery.”

To qualify for a loan, most buyers must also be gainfully employed. As Congress reconvenes this week and considers an extension of the Bush tax cuts, their decision could impact job creation.

If the Bush tax cuts are extended for those earning less than $250,000, but taxes are increased for higher earners, Yun expects about 1.5 million net new jobs to be added to the economy in 2011. Mortgage rates are expected to rise to 5.4% by the end of 2011 from the current 4.2% average rate provided the inflation rate stays manageable at near 2%. Total home sales, both existing and new combined, would rise to 5.5 million in 2011 from 5.1 million in 2010. If the Consumer Price Index inflation rate was to reach 3%, then mortgage rates could rise to 6% by the end of 2011, cutting home sales to 5.2 million.

“If the Bush tax cuts were extended for everyone across the board, an additional 400,000 additional jobs could be created in 2011, with home sales rising by an additional 60,000-80,000,” said Yun. “Of course, there are many factors that could influence job creation, and we also need to be mindful of the very high current budget deficits.”

For more information, visit www.realtor.org.

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