National Survey Asks: Has The Market Hit Bottom, 2012 Year Of Housing Recovery?

A Bottom of the American Real Estate Market

American real estate agents expect the US real estate market to be largely flat from 2011 to 2012.  Real estate agents predict that real estate values will be flat from 2011 to 2012, signaling a bottom to the real estate market or the end of the real estate bubble.  Given historically low interest rates as well as a bottoming of real estate values, real estate agents expect that the number of real estate transactions and new construction starts will increase slightly in 2012.   Additionally, real estate agents believe local economies are on the mend and we will see improvements in the economy.

US Real Estate Confidence

Rental Nation?

With low real estate values, low interest rates and a recovering economy, American real estate agents believe that 2012 is a great time to purchase both single family and multi-family rental properties.  Real estate agents feel that single family homes and luxury homes represent great investment opportunities.   What did real estate agents think are the worst opportunities in the 2012 real estate market?  Due to the glut of inventory in the real estate market due to short-sales and foreclosures, new construction condominiums, new construction single family homes, and land for construction were rated as the worst investment opportunities.

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US Real Estate Opportunities

What’s the Problem?  The Banks, Stupid!

When polled about the biggest challenges facing the real estate market and economy, real estate agents rated bank related issues the highest.  The biggest challenges were:  1) short sales, 2) ability to finance a new home purchase / loan qualifications, and 3) foreclosures.  The significant shadow inventory caused by short sales and foreclosures continues to drag on real estate values.  Though interest rates are at historical lows, increased loan qualifications are preventing first time home buyers from purchasing homes and current home owners from trading up into new homes.

We would have expected unemployment to be a greater concern to real estate agent.s  Persistently high unemployment was ONLY the fourth concern to real estate agents, which was surprising given how the poor economy and lack of jobs has dominated the news headlines for the past 24 months.

US Real Estate Problems

Local Opportunities, Local Problems

From a local market perspective, the 2012 ActiveRain real estate survey shows markets where real estate agents are significantly more optimistic and others in which real estate agents are concerned about 2012.  Based on our survey data, the ActiveRain real estate network has created a real estate confidence index and ranked the top real estate markets.

Below is a list of the TOP 10 and BOTTOM 10 real estate markets ranked by real estate agent confidence.

US Market Confidence ActiveRain
See real estate confidence in your local real estate market.

Key Trends in Top Markets

Low Cost of Living Markets Rule: Low interest rates and low cost of living have attracted buyers and relocations back into these markets.  Even though the general economy is not as robust as anyone would like, home buyers are adjusting lifestyles to find markets with low cost of living and reasonable housing prices.   Applicable markets: Ft. Myers, Austin, Boise, San Antonio, Denver, Dallas, Nashville, Houston, Salt Lake City

Invasion of the Snowbirds: Senior Housing & Second Homes:  Seniors and those planning for retirement have returned to the South.  Seniors are taking advantage of low priced housing inventory in the Sun Belt and low interest rates to buy a retirement home or a second home in a warmer climate.  Many of these buyers have saved for lifetime and 2012 represents a great opportunity to buy while prices and interest rates are low.   Seniors are targeting markets with low cost of living for retirement. Applicable Markets:  Ft Myers, Austin, San Antonio, Nashville, Miami, Salt Lake City

International Buyers: International home buyers are taking advantage of a weak dollar and low real estate values.  Florida is the biggest beneficiary of international buyer interest.  Miami is reporting strong home purchase market based on International cash transactions.

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Deep in the Heart of Texas: No other state has FOUR major cities listed as growth markets.  So what is going on in Texas?  Texas represents exactly what every home buyer should be looking for: low cost of living, low cost housing, and job growth.   Throw in no state income tax and Texas is looking a lot more appealing than California.  Texas is attracting many large corporations to set up headquarters and operations in the state.   This is especially true in Austin.  Finally Texas has a great mix of technology companies AND energy companies (oil & gas and renewable energy).  See below.  Applicable Markets: Austin, Dallas, San Antonio, Houston

Technology and Energy Industries: Even in the current down market, technology and energy are growth industries driving job creation.  Though most think of San Francisco, Boston, New York and Seattle when we think of technology.  Secondary markets participating in technology and energy job growth are likely good real estate markets in 2012, due to low cost of living and high demand for skilled jobs.   Markets: Austin, San Antonio, Denver, Dallas, Houston, Salt Lake City

Investment Property: Low interest rates, low real estate values, and rising rents due to job growth is a great investment proposition.  A number of the lower cost of living and lower real estate value markets are reporting growth driven by investors coming into the market looking for deals.   Applicable Markets: Boise, Nashville, Salt Lake City, Austin, San Antonio

Key Trends in Poor Markets

High Cost of Living, High Real Estate Values: Though interest rates are historicly low, cities with expensive housing and high costs of living are suffering.  Tightened loan standards are preventing home buyers from entering the market.  Families are relocating to lower cost of living markets.  The high cities with high real estate values are also suffering the most from the shadow inventory of foreclosures and short sales.  Applicable markets: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Diego

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California: Californian cities benefited from the greatest price increases during the real estate bubble.  Simultaneously California has suffered the greatest in the downturn with the highest numbers of foreclosures and short sales in the country.  California is also facing a major budget deficit of $XBn leading to reductions in government services, increased class sizes and increased taxes. Applicable markets: Los Angeles, San Diego, Sacramento

High Shadow Inventory: Large numbers of foreclosures and short sales continue to depress real estate prices in many markets.  It will take several more years for many markets to stabilize.  Buyers continue to wait on the sideline for conditions to improve.  Applicable markets: Reno, Sacramento, Chicago, Springfield, Los Angeles, Philadelphia

High Unemployment: Persistently high unemployment without an economic catalyst is preventing home buyers from entering the market and locking sellers into their current homes.  Applicable markets: Philadelphia, Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Sacramento, Reno

Reliance on the Finance Industry: Downsizing in the banking industry combined with reduction in Wall Street bonuses has caused challenges in markets reliant on banking,   Wall Street layoffs and a lack luster stock market have affected the highest cost markets like NYC most directly.  Applicable markets: New York , Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia

O Canada!

Unlike the United States, Canadian real estate agents are fairly optimistic about 2012.  Canadian real estate agents believe that all core metrics of the Canadian real estate market and economy will be increasing in 2012.  Real estate values, real estate transactions, new construction starts, and the local economy are project to increase slightly in 2012.  Canada continues to have a strong banking system, a strong dollar, and low unemployment.  Interest rates are low, spurring international investment in Canada..  Canadian confidence continues to be high.  Job growth is being driven by the energy industry in Canada.
Canadian Real Estate Confidence

Few problems are facing the Canadian real estate market or the Canadian economy.  Inflation and gas prices are the only problems that the Canadian economy seems to be facing.  Unlike the US real estate market, Canada any issues with short sales or foreclosures.
Canadian Real Estate Problems

Canadian real estate agents feel like single family homes, investment properties for rental and condominiums all represent good investment opportunities, due to historically low interest rates.  Interestingly, Canadian real estate agents are slightly LESS optimistic about real estate as investment opportunity when compared to American real estate agents
Canadian Real Estate Opportunities

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(1) Q4 2011 S&P/Case-Shiller index

(2) RealtyTrac 2011 Year End Foreclosure Report

(3) NAR Re-Benchmarking of Home Sales

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