Source: Wall Street Journal
J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. expects U.S. home prices to rise 3.4% in its base-case estimate and up to 9.7% in its most bullish scenario of economic growth. Standard & Poor’s, which rates private-issue mortgage bonds, on Friday said it expects a 5% rise in 2013.
The J.P. Morgan analysts boosted their base-case estimate from 1.5% after a convincing rise in the “net demand” for housing this year has surpassed 2 million homes for the first time since 2006, said John Sim, a strategist at the investment bank. Net demand is the pace of existing home sales minus the inventory of homes available for sale.
“Net demand has picked up a lot in 2012,” said Mr. Sim. “Once you get north of the 2 million territory, you are in the positive growth area unless you get a lot of distressed inventory, which this year hit a low point” since at least 2008, he added. J.P. Morgan predicts that net demand to rise to 2.7 million next year from 2.3 million this year.
An expected increase in home prices in 2012 triggered a run into some of the riskiest real estate assets, such as subprime mortgage-backed securities from the real estate boom, and analysts including Mr. Sim expect that trend to continue. Rising home prices and the quest for yield has also given a tailwind to new mortgage bond issuance that has been mired in the fallout of the housing crisis and regulatory uncertainty for the past four years.
U.S. home prices nationwide increased on a year-over-year basis by 6.3% in October, the biggest increase since June 2006, according to CoreLogic. Investors zoning in on the increases bought subprime mortgage bonds, which have posted returns of more than 40% since December.
Home price increases could exceed J.P. Morgan’s base forecast if investors seeking yield push deeper into real estate, according to Mr. Sim’s home price report.
What’s more, just the uncertainty over whether politicians will be able to steer clear of the “fiscal cliff,” the scheduled tax increases and spending cuts next month, may hurt investor confidence, the J.P. Morgan analysts said.
If taxes rise, reduced income for the potential homebuyers will damp housing demand, they added.
But the expectations for higher home prices are still widespread. Nearly three-quarters of investors polled by J.P. Morgan expect home prices to rise 5% in 2013.