Investors Provide Impetus for Housing Rebound

Tuesday, 26 Mar 2013 07:38 AM

By Dan Weil

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In the past, it almost always has been people seeking a place to live who have fueled housing recoveries. But now it’s investors, including big-time players, who are carrying the primary load, industry executives and analysts tell The Wall Street Journal.

Investors helped cause the housing bubble that crested in 2007 with their short-term, speculative mentality. But now they’re purchasing homes to hold and rent, according to the Journal.

Cash buyers, who consist largely of investors, now account for about 32 percent of national sales, according to the National Association of Realtors. Much of the buying is in the Sun Belt, but it has expanded elsewhere too.

Editor's Note: The IRS’ Worst Nightmare — How to Pay Zero Taxes

Investor activity has buoyed the market and boosted confidence, the executives and analysts say. Fear of entering the housing market has been replaced by fear of not entering.

"Whether they knew it or not, investors helped set a floor, Lanny Baker, CEO of ZipRealty brokerage, tells the Journal. “They warmed up the market, and it brought buyers back," Baker said.

Existing home sales rose to a seasonally adjusted, annual rate of 4.98 million in February, the fastest sales pace since November 2009.

Many economists are turning bullish on the housing industry.

“The fundamentals that usually drive housing activity, such as job growth and interest rates, those are favorable, and they suggest that we should continue to advance,” Michael Moran, chief economist at Daiwa Capital Markets America, told Bloomberg.

To be sure, “the inventories are said to be tight in many markets, and that’s holding sales back to a degree,” he said.

Editor's Note: The IRS’ Worst Nightmare — How to Pay Zero Taxes

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