Housing real-estate recovery seen as Fed unwinds

BOSTON: The US housing market is poised to withstand the removal of government and US Federal Reserve stimulus programmes and rebound later in the year, contributing to annual economic growth for the first time since 2006.

Increases in jobs, credit and affordable homes will help offset the end of the Fed’s purchases of mortgage-backed securities this month and the expiration of a federal homebuyer tax credit in April. Sales will rise about 6% this year, and housing will account for 0.25 percentage point of the 3.6% growth, according to forecasts by Dean Maki, chief US economist for Barclays Capital in New York.

“I would bet even odds that we’re at a bottom and that we’re going to see improvement in the coming months,” said Karl Case, co-creator of the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index and a professor of economics at Wellesley College in Wellesley, Massachusetts.

An improving market would allay concerns at the Fed that sales will relapse after the tax credit expires. It would also give Fed Chairman Ben S Bernanke and his colleagues, who meet this week in Washington, a freer rein to ultimately raise the interest rate for overnight loans among banks from near zero.

“They’re going to be tightening credit sooner than people expect,” said Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ Ltd in New York. He forecasts that the Fed’s first increase since 2006 may come as soon as June. – Bloomberg LP

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