WASHINGTON – Bucking conventional wisdom, a trade group for real-estate agents on Monday said the battered housing market is about to stabilize and inched up its outlook for 2007 and 2008 home sales. The revised monthly forecast from the National Association of Realtors, which followed nine straight months of downward revisions, calls for U.S. existing home sales to fall 12.5 percent this year to 5.67 million – the lowest level since 2002. Last month, the association predicted 5.66 million existing homes would be sold this year, down from 6.48 million last year. The group also forecast sales will rise in 2008 to 5.7 million, up from last month’s prediction of 5.69 million. Nevertheless, the Realtors group’s chief economist, Lawrence Yun, gave a positive outlook for job growth and the replacement of subprime lenders to borrowers with weak credit with government-backed loans as reasons for the improved outlook. While Yun acknowledged that housing prices soared relative to buyers’ availability to afford homes in places such as Miami and San Diego, he said housing “remains affordable in vast parts of the country” – particularly in the Midwest. The trade group also said its index that forecasts near-term home sales inched upward in October. The trade group’s seasonally adjusted index of pending sales for existing homes rose 0.6 percent to 87.2 from an upwardly revised September index of 86.7, but was down 18.4 percent from a year ago – the third-largest year-over year decline on record. The Realtors group also forecast the median price for U.S. existing homes – the point at which half sold for more and half for less – will sink by 1.9 percent to $217,600 this year and rise 0.3 percent next year to $218,300. If median prices fall this year, it will be the first price decline in the nearly 40 years. Other ways to measure national housing prices, such as the S&P/Case-Shiller index, already have shown price declines. A government index of national home prices marked a quarterly decline for the first time in 13 years in the third quarter. Home prices dipped 0.4 percent nationwide in the July-September period, compared with the previous quarter, the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight said.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWhicker: Clemson demonstrates that it’s tough to knock out the champNumerous other economists, however, are far less optimistic than the trade group. They predict weak sales and falling prices through 2008 and beyond and emphasize that those problems could worsen if the economy sinks into a recession. Patrick Newport, an economist at Global Insight, forecasts that home sales will drop from 5.66 million this year to 4.7 million in 2008 – 1 million fewer home sales than the real estate group’s forecast. “With the economy and job growth slowing … it is hard to believe that we have hit bottom,” Newport said in a note to clients Monday. “Our view is that prices need to drop further, and that housing activity will hit bottom about the middle of 2008.” Joel Naroff, chief economist for Commerce Bank, said the U.S. is 12-18 months away from a “normal housing market” in which sales are growing and prices are rising or stable. He said the trade group’s 0.2 percent revision to its sales forecast should be taken with a grain of salt, given the difficulty of projecting with any certainty.
ONE of Donegal’s leading judges has issued an open invitation to schools and other groups to come and see the working of the courts system.Circuit Court Judge John O’Hagan said it is very important that young people get a taste for what happens in court from an early age.“I would encourage all groups including schools and other clubs to arrange a trip to the courts. I think it is vitally important for young people to see justice happening before their eyes. “I think it gives them a healthy respect for the law and a better understanding of all the work that goes on in court from the court clerk to the Gardai to the jury.“If anybody is interested in bringing a group to court, then they should contact the court office and it will be arranged,” he said.Judge O’Hagan met with a group of students from Mulroy College in Milford last week and spent a considerable time during a court break in a questions and answers session.The trip was arranged by well-known local barrister Fiona Crawford whose friend Aisling Crawford is a teacher at the school. The visit was part of the group’s Civic Social and Political Education curriculum.A number of officers of the courts including registrar John Quinn, stenographer Tony O’Callaghan, senior counsel Cormac O’Dulachainn, barrister Fiona Crawford, solicitor Frank Dorrian, judge’s usher David Connolly and Judge O’Hagan himself outlined their roles to the students.The students also spent some time watching a live criminal trial.Teacher Aisling Crawford said the students had a hugely informative day and that she would recommend it to any groups thinking of a visit.JUDGE ISSUES INVITATION FOR SCHOOLS AND GROUP TO VISIT ‘LIVE’ COURT was last modified: February 16th, 2011 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)