Top 5 Indicators that Will Give Americans Confidence About the Housing Market

With the U.S. economy still struggling, over half of Americans (54 percent) aren’t sure the President can stabilize the housing market over the next year, according to Trulia’s latest consumer survey on American attitudes on housing policy.Harris Interactive conducted this online survey on Trulia’s behalf and asked more than 2,000 Americans what signals will give them confidence that the housing market is getting back on track.Jed Kolko, Trulia’s Chief Economist, says,  “Americans won’t believe our economy is improving until they see real proof.” Luckily for agents, the proof that consumers are looking for lies in key data points that agents can present to clients to help give them the confidence to buy:

1. Fewer defaults and foreclosures

“Fewer defaults and foreclosures” tops the list as a key factor indicating recovery, suggesting that consumers will be more confident in the market’s recovery if they believe that their neighborhood as a whole is doing better.

“As long as there are foreclosed homes and lingering for-sale signs in neighborhoods across the country, people are faced with constant, everyday reminders that the housing market is still struggling,” says Kolko. For real estate professionals, showing potential clients and customers local statistics on decreases in defaults can be a major tool in building the confidence consumers need to make a market move.

2. More home sales

The survey data showed home sales matter the most next to defaults and foreclosures. With 38 percent of the votes, this data indicates that statistics showing increased home sales can be a major tool to get consumers to believe in the market’s recovery.

Soon, communicating local home sales data is about to become even more important because of a lingeringNational Association of Realtors’ revision to 2005-2011 national home sales data which will likely show national numbers have been to high due to inflation.

For agents who have local areas where sales have increased, data driven presentations can motivate clients who may be straddling the fence on the decision to purchase.

3. Fewer vacant homes

While empty homes mean opportunity, they are a downer when it comes to consumer confidence. ”Neighborhood vacancies are like second-hand smoke, hurting everyone around them,” says Kolko.

Survey data showed, with 32 percent of the responses, declines in vacancies are top confidence builders for consumers.

For agents, this means the value of placing a “sold” sign is not only a great moment for the buyer, but for the neighborhood as a whole. To track vacancies by states, check the U.S. Census Bureau’s quarterly release on home vacancies, which breaks down the information by both state and Metropolitan Statistical Areas.

4. Lower Mortgage Rates

The survey data says “lower mortgage rates” are another of the top five confidence builders and received 25 percent of votes. That means it’s important, not only to offer clients updates on the day-to-day changes in rates, but also to show the bigger picture.

When it comes down to visual representations of today’s market opportunity, mortgage rate changes over the past 30 years is probably one of the most dramatic graphs an agent can present to a client. To make your own graph of mortgage rates and see the dramatic change, visit Bankrate.com’s Graph Rate Trends Page.

5. Higher Homeownership Rates

Lastly, the survey showed nothing sells ownership like ownership. Higher Homeownership Rates received 23% of the votes when it came to building confidence among consumers.

This indicates that seeing reminders of sales activity in their area and ownership benefits are keys to motivate clients to make a move.

How Agents Can Use the data: Get Local

National stats like these matter for showing macro-level trends that offer agents strategic marketing direction, but there’s nothing like local data.

Kolko says, “Housing will remain a local game and every market will have it’s own trends in 2012.”

The truth is the stats may or may not encourage prospective owners to purchase, but keeping an eye on these indicators is good business for agents who are serious about about educating their clients on market changes.

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