Grand Rapids Real Estate News: Getting Happy About Housing, Again!

housing-going-upNews flash: The soaring prices of real estate in some parts of the country don’t have Americans down. In fact, the current real estate market has them pretty darn upbeat. The 2015 National Housing Pulse Survey by the National Association of Realtors® found that 68% of Americans surveyed in the country’s 50 largest metropolitan areas think now’s a good time to get a hold of some real estate.

“Owning is cool again,” said Jonathan Smoke, chief economist of®.

Indeed, homeowners are apparently a confident bunch: 71% think they can sell their house for the amount that they paid for it—and only 55% thought so in 2013.

“It’s a good time to buy—for real,” Smoke said. “Sure, prices have largely recovered and rates are up slightly, so homes aren’t quite as affordable as they were a few years back.”  However, he pointed out that many households are now in a better position to buy than they were in 2013—thanks to lower unemployment, better household balance sheets, and  slightly easier credit.

Perhaps that’s why 49% of poll respondents believe that activity in the housing market has increased in the past year, compared with 44% in 2013—and just 12% in the dark period of 2011. Some 89% think home sales in their area will either stay at their current height or rise some more, and few are concerned about foreclosures.

Their bright outlook comes from their increased optimism about the economy: Only 36% think that job layoffs and unemployment are a big problem, which NAR called “a substantial drop from 45% in 2013.”

Of course, the booming market has caused a few furrowed brows as prices continue to rise; 41% of respondents claimed lack of affordable housing as a very big or fairly big problem in their area. That’s a 9% increase from 2013, when the average home price (in January of that year) was $306,900. In January 2015, the average was $356,000.

And there are plenty of obstacles potential homeowners still face: 78% of respondents point to college debt and student loans as the main obstacle to making a home purchase affordable. In addition, 76% of participants said they have a full-time job but still did not make enough money to purchase a home.

High rents have Americans worried, too, but older Americans feel more panicked than younger ones. Boomers are bumming. But leave it to those optimistic millennials to see the bright side of real estate, despite record lows for homeownership: 42% of millennials under 35 think the country is “headed in the right direction,” and only 20% of Americans over 50 believed the same.

But not all data gatherers have come to this same sunny conclusion. In June, the MacArthur Foundation and Hart Research Associates’ 2015 How Housing Matters annual survey found that Americans were mighty grim on homeownership. Back then, they wrote, “a significant majority of Americans believes the country is still not past the housing crisis that began seven years ago.” With the presidential campaign season ramping up, Americans’ true feelings about their economic security, including housing, will surely influence their opinions.