Home prices increase 8% in 2014 – What is to come in 2015?

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Home prices increase 8% in 2014 – What is to come in 2015?
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2014 recap

2014 was a good year for the U.S. economy with 3 million jobs added and the unemployment rate dropping to 5.6%, the lowest level since June, 2008. We also saw declining gasoline prices and natural gas prices in most of the mid-west and east coast all combined with record low interest rates. There are still lots of unemployed and underemployed, especially in markets like Southern Oregon where we have such a small job base, but there is also good news in this area. The United States lost over 1.6 million manufacturing jobs in the recession, mainly to China, but according to Boston Consulting Groups annual survey, 20% of those companies who outsourced to China in the last seven years are now considering bringing those jobs back to the United States citing rising labor and transportation costs.

2014 was also a good year for real estate in the U.S. and in Jackson County. Median Home prices grew by over 5% in the U.S. but Jackson County exceeded the average to grow by 8.1% with the median price of a home ending at $208,600. Jacksonville’s median price grew by 8.2% to a median price of $308,500. Areas dominated by investors and first time home buyers grew even faster with West Medford median prices growing by 22% and White City median prices growing by 18.8%.

2015 forecast

To predict what we will see for the Jackson County Market, we must first see what is predicted for the U.S. housing market. For the last two years we have seen the median price of homes in Jackson County grow at a faster pace than the U.S. average; but, will this continue for 2015?

Freddie Mac predicted that 2015 will see the highest level of home sales in the U.S. since 2007 in its newly released U.S. Economic and Housing Market Outlook.

In the report, Freddie Mac looked back at five key predictions for 2014, how they fared, and how they will affect housing and the economy next year. In addition to home sales, the four other areas examined were mortgage originations, home values, rental market, and mortgage rates.
Here is a recap of the report:

• Home Sales: A 4% jump is expected for home sales up to 5.6 million in 2015, which would be the highest annual level home sales experienced since 2007 according to the report. Home sales and the economy made a strong comeback for the second half of 2014, and analysts expect that recovery to continue on into 2015. The recent drop in oil prices has been an unexpected boon for consumers’ pocketbooks and most businesses. Economic growth has picked up over the final nine months of 2014 and lower energy costs are expected to support growth of about 3 percent for the U.S. in 2015. Therefore, we expect the housing market to continue to strengthen with home sales rising to their best sales pace in eight years.

• Home Values: Home prices have increased for 13 straight quarters resulting in a six year high. Home values grew at a rate of 4.5 percent, and in 2015, they are expected to increase by 4.0 percent, according to the report.

• Rental Market: Vacancy rates fell to their lowest level since 2000 in the last year, and rental markets will continuing to display low vacancy rates even with the highest level of new apartment completions in 25 years.

• Mortgage Rates: 30-year fixed mortgage rates are expected to average 4.4 percent in 2015 after hovering just below 4 percent in December. The Federal Reserve announced they will hold the interest rate until mid-2015 and raise it only if the economy shows substantial growth.

• Mortgage Originations: Following months of talk and speculation, both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac announced in January they will begin allowing qualifying first-time borrowers to purchase homes with just a 3 percent down payment. By lowering the down payment to 3 percent, the Federal Housing Finance Administration hopes to increase homeownership by offering loans to those who can afford mortgages but lack resources to make a 20 percent down payment plus closing costs. In the past, the 3 percent down payment loans have only existed in government loans such as FHA loans; starting now they will be available in a conventional loan.

How will Jackson County fare?

The rental market will most likely continue to be tight as the amount of new housing hasn’t kept up with the rental demand. We are seeing millennials moving out of their parents basements and going out on their own as the job market increases. This increase in demand will lead to low vacancy rates and a raise in rental rates.

As for home prices in Jackson County, we will see similar growth in the median home price as we did in 2014, which was 8%. During the recession, the median price of a home in Jackson County decreased faster than the U.S. average. In fact, Jackson and Deschutes counties were the hardest hit counties in Oregon. Markets that saw the greatest declines in home values are also the markets that are now seeing the greatest increases in home values. We are also seeing consistent population growth from retiring baby boomers moving to the area which will keep the demand up for housing.