STATEN ISLAND, N.Y.  —  Representatives of the Staten Island Board of Realtors (SIBOR) have recently returned from Washington, D.C., where colleagues from across the nation were given a reason to be optimistic about the future of the economy.

Representatives of the Staten Island Board of Realtors gather in Washington, D.C., during the recent "Rally to Protect the American Dream."

Positive underlying economic factors are helping relieve a pent-up housing demand, according to a presentation at a residential real estate forum at the Realtors® Midyear Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo here.

National Association of Realtors® Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said there are many improving factors that are helping home sales. “Historically high housing affordability conditions, ongoing job creation, a solid stock market recovery, rising rents, a larger pool of qualified renters, a pent-up demand and improving confidence are drawing buyers to the market,” he said.

“Smart money, largely from investors responding to low home prices and rising rents, is chasing real estate, and we could see a potential surge once the broad perception of homeownership changes to that of an appreciating asset,” Yun said. “We just finished the strongest first quarter for home sales in five years, pending contracts are pointing to a strong second quarter, and the favorable conditions are helping the economy recover from an unusual slowdown in household formation in recent years with more young people now leaving their parents’ homes.”

Despite a minor gain in total home sales last year, owner-occupied sales fell. “A recovery in investment- and vacation-home sales and a high proportion of all-cash deals are hiding the current dysfunctional mortgage market,” Yun said. “Tight mortgage credit is holding back a stronger recovery. Banks are hoarding cash, possibly from regulatory uncertainties and lawsuits.”

Home sales had been basically flat from 2008 through 2011. Yun forecasts 4.6 to 4.7 million existing-home sales in 2012, up strongly from 4.26 million last year, and additional improvement in 2013 with sales rising to the range of 4.7 to 4.8 million.

Mortgage interest rates are projected to rise gradually and then average 4.9 percent in 2013 – still historically favorable. “The pressure of rising rents on consumer inflation could force the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates in 2014, which might be good for home sales. Refinancing would fall and bank staff would be able to focus more on mortgage origination for home purchases,” Yun said.

Inflation currently remains under control with the Consumer Price Index rising about 2.4 percent this year and 2.8 percent in 2013.

Yun expects the Gross Domestic Product to grow 2.4 percent this year and 3.1 percent in 2013, adding 2.2 million jobs this year and 2.5 million in 2013.

Housing starts, which have been well below the long-term average of about 1.5 million, are expected to rise to 770,000 this year from 610,000 in 2011, and to continue growing to 970,000 in 2013. New-home sales are seen at 400,000 this year, up from a record low 306,000 in 2011, and rising to 530,000 in 2013. “With a growing population, we could see housing shortages in 2014 or 2015 if builders don’t increase production,” Yun said.

About The Staten Island Board of REALTORS® (SIBOR)

The Staten Island Board of REALTORS® (SIBOR) is the largest not-for-profit trade association in Staten Island, N.Y.

SIBOR exists to enhance the ability and opportunity of its members to conduct their business successfully and ethically; and to promote the preservation of the public’s right to own, transfer and use real property.

Comprised of over 1,600 members, SIBOR serves real estate agents, brokers and affiliated professionals throughout the borough and surrounding areas.

SIBOR is the provider of the Staten Island Multiple Listing Service Inc. (SIMLS), which works as a clearinghouse through which more than 250 local real estate firms exchange information on properties they have listed for sale. Together, its members participate in over 3,000 real estate transactions every year.

All SIBOR members belong to the New York State Association of REALTORS® (NYSAR) and the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR).

SIBOR may be reached at 718-928-3220 and visited online at

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