After enjoying a good run for the last couple of years, it looks like the U.S. residential real estate market might be starting to slow down. The two federal agencies charged with providing most of the mortgage guarantees in the U.S. and setting mortgage fees — Fannie Mae / Federal National Mortgage Assctn Fnni Me (OTCBB:FNMA) and Freddie Mac / Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp (OTCBB:FMCC) — announced today that they are scaling back their housing market forecast for 2014.
Statement from Fannie Mae chief economist
Doug Duncan, Fannie Mae / Federal National Mortgage Assctn Fnni Me (OTCBB:FNMA)’s chief economist, spoke to the media on Monday, April 21st. Duncan said his agency now projects home builders will begin construction on 1.05 million housing units this year, down from Fannie Mae’s forecast of 1.10 million earlier this year. He mentioned difficulties in obtaining credit and constraints on labor as key issues related to the housing slowdown. “We have downgraded our housing forecast slightly due to a lackluster sales picture, but the recent loss of momentum is likely a temporary one.”
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Statement from Freddie Mac chief economist
“Tight inventory may pose a significant challenge for home buyers in many markets across the country, which may result in higher home prices and sales being lower than expected,” said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac / Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp (OTCBB:FMCC)’s chief economist.
Freddie Mac announced last week it was reducing its forecast for single-family home sales in 2014 to 5.5 million from an earlier estimate of 5.6 million.
March residential sales data will be released later this week. Consensus analyst estimates are for little to no growth last month. However, analysts also point out that some projects and purchases delayed by bad weather the last couple of months are going to start showing up in the next few months’ housing reports. Although higher home prices will almost inevitably reduce total sales, mortgage rates remain quite low and home-price growth is expected to slow down over at least the next couple of quarters.