Despite a recent dip in home sales in most areas of the country, real estate brokers and other industry professionals are generally optimistic about the market in future months.
A continuing decline in interest rates is the key factor that will continue to spark growing activity in the market, most brokers feel. This, coupled with moderate home value appreciation during the past year, is rebuilding the residential sales market.
This was the general consensus of responses received in a recent survey conducted by Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Service.
The survey covered the franchise organization's top broker members throughout the country.
"As mortgage interest rates decrease, more first-time homebuyers will help to firm up the recovery of a soft real estate market," the survey report said. "We will continue to see a steady increase in housing sales across the nation, and our brokers remain optimistic that a recovery is under way."
More than 44 percent of brokers surveyed indicated an improved home buying market in their area, compared with this time last year. First-time homebuyers are the most active segment of today's market, it was noted.
The primary motivators for those first-time buyers are low interest rates (58 percent) and low housing prices (54 percent).
Among repeat homebuyers (those moving from one owned home to another), move-up buyers, families seeking a bigger and/or better home, are the most active segment (38 percent of buyers).
This has increased significantly since last year.
There are still a large number of prospective homebuyers who are waiting to buy due to economic uncertainty, according to 56 percent of brokers surveyed. But news of continuing economic recovery and lower interest rates should increase consumer confidence in coming months, the brokers noted.
First-time homebuyers hold the key to residential real estate recovery, the survey report emphasized. "These buyers allow others to move up to bigger homes. While a complete recovery of the housing market is still in the distance, brokers are encouraging buyers, especially first-time buyers, to act now before the current 'window of opportunity' expires."
Overall, 67 percent of the Better Homes and Gardens broker members feel the real estate market will continue to improve over the long term.
The franchise group, launched in 1977, now has 680 member brokerage firms throughout the country.