Our economy is digging out of a very deep ditch. So, even though a few good signs started emerging on the jobs front late in 2011, it's hardly enough to get giddy about. And just forget about popping the champagne corks anytime soon. When the discouraged job applicants start flooding back into the job market, then we will know how much farther we have to go. Meanwhile, real estate markets remain mostly weak and waiting for consumer confidence and jobs to return. The end result is that normal won't be a term bandied about much in 2012.
Mike Fratantoni and Joel Kan, economists with the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), offer an outlook for the residential real estate market in an article titled "Slowly Climbing Out." The essence of their message can be summed up this way: "Regardless of which path the economy and mortgage rates take, we are predicting another tough year for the industry, with total residential origination volume coming in at its lowest level since 1997."
The MBA economists write that "continued slow growth means unemployment will remain elevated through 2012." The two authors conclude that 2012 will probably be evenly split between refinancing and purchase volume. And they note that most likely we will have to wait until 2013 to get another "true purchase market."
On the commercial/multifamily front, we feature several articles on the outlook. An article by Jamie Woodwell, MBA's vice president of commercial real estate research, offers his assessment in an article titled "No Such Thing as Normal." He notes the swings and cycles that characterize the commercial real estate sector mean, for the most part, there is no steady...