And there's quite a bit of reasoning behind it.
Take, for instance, an article that ran in the March issue of Fortune magazine, titled, "Real Estate: It's time to buy again." Posted by Shawn Tully, it weaves a tale that's hard to argue. After years of economic blight, and slow housing starts, we may be faced with a housing shortage in coming months and years.
Two basic factors are laying the foundation for dramatic recovery in residential real estate. The first is the historic drop in new construction. The second is a steep decline in prices, on the order of 30% nationwide since 2006, and as much as 55% in the hardest-hit markets. This new affordability will gradually lure Americans back to buying homes. And the return of the homeowner will start raising prices in many markets this year.
A new study by Deutsche Bank finds that homeowners now pay just 9.8% of their income in after-tax mortgage, tax, and insurance payments. That's down from 17.2% at the bubble's peak in 2007. The cost of owning compared with renting should also inspire potential buyers. In 28 out of 54 major markets, it's now cheaper to pay a mortgage and other major costs than to rent the same house. What's most compelling is that in all of the distressed markets, owning now wins by a wide margin — a stunning reversal from four years ago.
The true disaster areas for housing since the bubble burst have been Sunbelt cities such as Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Miami. In these foreclosure markets, houses are now such a screaming deal that investors–including both professional investment firms and mom and pop investors–are purchasing them at a rapid pace.
Mike Castleman, whose company tracks new housing inventory in 19 states, claims that this recovery will look like all the others: It will bring a severe shortage of housing. He invokes the livestock business to explain. "It takes three years between the time a bull mates with a cow and when you get a calf ready for market," he says. "That's how it is in housing too. We'll get a big surge in demand and the drywall companies will take a long time to ramp up, and it will take years to get new lots approved. Buyers will show up looking for a house in a subdivision, and all the houses will be sold. The builders will tell them it will take six months to deliver a house." But those folks, says Castleman, will be set on buying a place. "And they'll want it so bad they'll bid the prices up!" In other words: Beat the crowd.