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2006 Housing Market Third Best Ever – Overall dollar volume second highest in history.

For those of us in the real estate and mortgage industry, much of the recent news is causing us to wonder if many of us will still be here this time next year. The real estate industry is changing and any successful agent or mortgage broker must adapt to stay in business. Individual demise will not, however, be the result of lack of volume.

Consider these numbers: In 2003, as a real estate agent making 3% of the 0,000 median sale price and completing 25 transactions, the gross income would have been 7,500. In 2006, that same agent would have only had to complete 20 deals and the gross income would have been 3,200. The total number of sales in 2006 was not 20% less than the 2003 number, yet one could still make more money and work less. What a bummer!

Mortgage brokers should consider these numbers as well: In 2004, with 20% down, the average loan amount would have been 7,280 based on the median sale price. Charging 1% and completing 50 transactions throughout that year, the gross income would have been ,640. In 2006, with 20% down, the average loan amount would have been 7,600 based on the median sale price. With 15% less production, the total number of loans completed would have been 42 and the gross income would have been ,592. Not a big increase, but loan volume was not down 15%.

As industry professionals we need to adapt with the market and know how and where to find the next deal. You could offer the best service, lowest rates or fastest whatever. The bottom line is that if people don’t know how to find you or you don’t find them, the product/service goes unused.

Let’s consider some of the NAR comments and opinions of past years to determine what to expect in 2007 and beyond. David Lereah, NAR's chief economist, and previous NAR President Al Mansell, have had this to say:

1/2002 - David Lereah, NAR's chief economist “Although mortgage interest rates moved around a lot during 2001, they generally stayed within a range of a half of a percentage point. In fact, last year was the second lowest year on record since Freddie Mac started tracking mortgage interest rates in 1971, and that is one of the fundamental factors in the favorable market conditions that we expect to prevail for this year as well,” Freddie Mac reported interest rates averaged 6.9%.

2/2003 – David Lereah, NAR's chief economist “To a certain extent, it appears many of the buyers may have been in the market for a while and moved decisively as interest rates dropped to generational lows,” he said. “When you look at the corresponding rates of price increase, these are buyers who put their money on the table to get their share of the American dream.” Freddie Mac reported interest rates averaged 6.08.

1/2004 - David Lereah, NAR's chief economist "We've been expecting the pace of home sales to ease, and a decline in November (2003) seemed to indicate a more sustainable pace, but the rebound in December (2003) - the second highest monthly pace on record - shows there's still a lot of life in this market," he said. "The biggest factor is a resumed decline in mortgage interest rates, which have been much lower than most analysts expected." Freddie Mac reported interest rates averaged 5.88%.

1/2005 - NAR President Al Mansell, CEO of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Salt Lake City, said strong price growth is being driven by a shortage of homes available for sale. "The demand for homes remains in record territory, but the supply of homes on the market set an all-time low in January," he said. "The growth in home equity is adding to housing wealth and helping the overall economy, yet low mortgage interest rates are keeping homes within reach of buyers in most of the country."

1/2006 - David Lereah, NAR's chief economist "This is part of the market adjustment we've been discussing, with a soft landing in sight for the housing sector," he said. "The level of home sales activity is now at a sustainable level, and is likely to pick up a bit in the months ahead. Overall fundamentals remain solid, driven by population and employment growth as well as favorable affordability conditions in most of the country, so we expect the housing market to remain historically high but lower than last year's record." Freddie Mac reported interest rates averaged 6.23%.

1/2007 - David Lereah, NAR's chief economist “Despite all of the doom-and-gloom stories and dire predictions over the last year, 2006 was the third strongest year on record for existing-home sales. It looks like we’re moving beyond the low for the housing cycle last fall, and buyers are responding to historically low interest rates and competitive pricing by home sellers. In addition, a tightening inventory of homes on the market is supporting prices.” Freddie Mac reported interest rates averaged 6.14%.

Spokane Real Estate Agent and Washington mortgage broker , Michael Sanborn, said, “While rates continue to remain at a very low point historically, inventory is much higher than average. Home prices for 2007 are expected to be maintained and even increase in certain regions. As the inventory tightens, home values may increase as long as interest rates don’t increase to a point that might offset that. Either way, people will have to buy and sell. Homes will need to be financed or refinanced. New homes are being built all of the time and the population is continually increasing. Things really do look good, but you need to make sure you’re business is doing the right things to be in front of the clients.”

About the Author: Spokane Real Estate Agent and Owner of Saint Lawrence Mortgage, Mike Sanborn has been in the real estate industry for 10 years. His underwriting, origination and home sales experience provides for great insight ino the changes the industry will see.

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