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The U.S. housing market will continue a slow recovery in 2012, led by stabilizing home prices and increasing sales. Those are among the key findings of a year-end survey of one thousand RE/MAX real estate agents who say housing’s vital signs are gaining strength.

The majority of RE/MAX agents surveyed say housing prices will stay the same, or increase in 2012. Projections are the strongest for the Southern U.S. where 49.6 percent say prices will stabilize and 26.7 percent anticipate an increase. Agents in the Northeast see the biggest challenges, with 47.5 percent concluding that prices will decrease, 44.6 percent expecting prices to remain at 2011 levels, and only 7.9 percent anticipating an increase.

According to a release from the company, nationwide, RE/MAX agents reported a 10.7 percent increase in their home sales in 2011, and project an increase of 29.3 percent in 2012. Asked to measure the strength of home sales, 62.1 percent of agents predict good to very good sales in 2012.

The major obstacles to the housing recovery cited by agents include sagging consumer confidence, followed by lack of economic growth, unemployment, concerns of more price declines and bank procedures.

Agents report that 52 percent of closings were significantly delayed in 2011, with bank procedures cited as the cause in 23 percent of the cases, followed by financing and appraisals. For sales that were canceled, bank procedures again was the leading reason, while financing, sales price and appraisals also were factors.

The majority of agents say such delays and cancellations were higher in 2011, than in 2010.

Other findings of the RE/MAX Market Insights survey, conducted Dec. 7-19 among randomly selected agents, include:

• Market bottoming out: Thirty-nine percent said their markets have already hit bottom; 34 percent say prices will stop dropping in 2012; 27 percent saysprices will reach their lowest point in 2013 or beyond.

• Distressed sales: RE/MAX agents project that 20.3 percent of their home sales in 2012 will consist of foreclosures and short sales. That compares with 17.1 percent in 2011 and 15 percent in 2010.

The most common buyer incentives that agents are seeing are:

1) Reduce sales price
2) Pay closing costs
3) Make repairs
4) Buy home warranty
5) Pay origination fees or points

For more information, visit www.remax.com.

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