California's Housing Market Could Improve by 2014

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — The housing market may look bad, but if you live in California and can wait until 2014, all won't be lost, says real estate analytical firm Local Market Monitor.

Some California cities are already showing stronger price stability: San Jose has seen its average home prices rise by 2% in the last year, and its 12-month forecast anticipates a rise of 4%.

Silicon Valley, meanwhile, has seen a 13.6% uptick in jobs in the past year, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which puts San Jose completely at odds with the U.S. as a whole, which saw the national unemployment rate rise to 9.1% this month when economy only produced 54,000 jobs in May.

And then there's the Oakland/Fremont/Hayward area, where home prices have stabilized and are expected to rise 1% over the next year

The rest of the state can expect to catch up by 2014, says Local Market Monitor, in line with the FHFA’s conclusion that some urban markets have already recovered in the Golden State. If it pans out, that’s great news for a state where home equity values have fallen by $1.73 trillion since 2007, according to Moody’s.

Here’s a rundown of average home prices in three of California's biggest cities, from Local Market Monitor. The company uses a calculus it calls an “equilibrium” price to factor in the amount of construction in the region and any external speculative real estate investment activity that may be occurring in specific markets. In these markets, homes tend to be priced roughly at or above the equilibrium point.

City                             Average price               Equilibrium Rate

San Francisco             $623,200                      +7.00%

Los Angeles               $352,200                      +15.00%

San Diego                  $324,200                       -1.00%

Those numbers – along with housing data from across California - should improve by 4%-5% by 2014, Local Market Monitor says. Company analysts say that the jobs picture in California should strengthen through 2011 and grow even stronger in 2012 and 2013.

By and large home shoppers – and homesellers – can gauge the relative health of their cities and towns by checking out the job-growth data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

San Francisco, for example, seems to have a stabilizing employment picture. According to the Labor Dept., San Francisco has seen its unemployment rate fall from 10.3% to 9.5%. Nearby San Jose’s unemployment rate also fell in the same period, from 11.0% to 10.1%.

If those jobs numbers hold, then Local Market Monitor will likely be right and California home prices should rise by 2014.

But if the opposite happens and unemployment also takes a double-dip, all bets are off, no matter what anyone says.

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