The U.S. housing market and consumer are looking much healthier and there are reasons to believe they will only get stronger, according to panelists at a talk during the American Securitization Forum’s 2013 conference.
Making a hyper-bullish case, Ivy Zelman, CEO of Zelman and Associates enumerated the trends that attest to a real estate recovery that has legs.
Among them: inventory is at a 30-year low; home prices are rising particularly in cities where the bubble burst was most painful; the growth in single family rentals has been striking; and current demand for REO is far outstripping supply.
“The number of for sale signs is at the lowest it’s been in 30 years,” Zelman said. “In Las Vegas it’s selling like it’s spring. For this time of year it’s the strongest since 2005.”
She predicted that builders and commercial banks will come back into the sector as the opportunities become too irresistible.
Much of this, however, hinges on continued low rates. An sharp rise could spell an end to this robust recovery.
On the broader consumer front, Ellen Callahan, a director at Deutsche Bank, said the U.S. consumer now has more tailwinds behind her than headwinds in front of her.
“Household DTI has been in freefall since the peak in 2007,” she said, noting the current level is around where it was in 2003. The rise in stock market values and the continued drop in personal bankruptcy filings are other indicators pointing to a stronger consumer.
But the U.S. consumer, while holding less debt on average, is still facing relatively high unemployment. And then there is the issue of student loan debt, the “$1 trillion problem,” according to Callahan.