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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Home Buddies Quarterly Economic Report - Part 3 - Opportunities

By Cliff Pape

Over the past several weeks we have taken a bird's eye view of the US economy. In this post I will be addressing what we will likely see happening in mortgage and real estate markets in 2009. Finally, I will point out the unique opportunities that are available in this type of environment.

Credit and Financial Markets

Perhaps the greatest news leading into 2009 is the commitment by the Department of the Treasury and the Federal Reserve ("The Fed") to achieve lower mortgage interest rates. The fed announced on November 25th that it would purchase $600 billion in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgage-backed securities and unsecured debt.

Whether the government will be able to accomplish it or not, the idea is to lower the cost and improve the investment of financing a property. The goal is to decrease debt costs to put potential investors or retail buyers with good credit back in the market to stabilize the economy.

Furthermore, if home buyers jump into the real estate market, this will further stabilize home values which will help the banks' balance sheets. All of this bodes well for mortgage brokers and loan officers because the ultimate goal of the government is to get mortgage lenders to loosen credit and they have committed to do it. At some point during 2009 mortgage lending should begin to pick up. Expect a refinance boom when the mess clears up.

The Real Estate Market

There are a few things to keep an eye on in Houston. If housing permits continue to contract, it could be a while before the national residential real estate scene improves. Several markets such as Houston are still bucking the national trend, but, even in these markets, permits are beginning to contract which is pointing toward a slow-down as we head into 2009.

However, layoffs will be the big indicator leading into 2009. If we experience substantial job layoffs then the already fragile housing market could experience a deeper setback.

Opportunities for Investors

Fear in markets leads to an over-correction and there may never be a better time to buy property in Houston - if you have good credit. In otherwise stable markets like Houston, fear is causing prices to move below what Houston's economic indicators should warrant.

With credit standards like they are right now, many investors (and most retail buyers) are out of the game because they are not able to get financing for single family homes. So now is a window of opportunity for smart investors with good credit to buy up undervalued investment properies in Houston.

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