Experts discuss PA housing market

By Samantha Elliott Krepps | May 9, 2011 | 2 min. read

Housing experts from across the state gathered for the PA Housing Finance Agency’s (PHFA) Commonwealth Housing Forum last week. PAR President Guy A. Matteo, GRI, SRES, and Joel Searby, executive vice president of Strategic Guidance Systems (SGS), were featured in a panel discussion on the housing market in Pennsylvania.

PAR President Guy A. Matteo. Photo: Stuart Leask

Matteo said that there will be less volatility in the real estate markets as house prices stabilize. “You’ll see additional vitality in many housing markets across the commonwealth by 2012. Some markets in Pennsylvania may see some appreciation by 2011,” said Matteo. “All real estate is local. We won’t see the end of the declining prices until probably the second half of this year and most markets will likely be in recovery-mode by 2012.”

Matteo added that interest rates have begun to rise but says they will remain historically low although they have been higher than in recent months. “We should see higher mortgage rates throughout the year. You might think that the rising rates signal a market slowdown and a reduction in affordability, but not in this case. Many experts are saying that the rising rates are a sign of strengthening in the market and it’s a favorable signal of economic growth,” Matteo added.

From left: Ray Venema, Kate Newton, Joel Searby and Guy A. Matteo. Photo: Stuart Leask

Ray Venema, president of the PA Builders Association, said that there hasn’t been a lot of household growth.  “Last year the tax incentive spurred the market but since then we haven’t had nearly the number of housing starts,” said Venema. “The economy is very much connected to housing. Homebuilding is an important and sizeable segment of the state’s economy and it is vital to its recovery.”

Searby, who conducted a foreclosure survey last year for Keystone Analytics®, a wholly-owned subsidiary of PAR, said Pennsylvanians who were polled were going through foreclosure at the time or had experienced the process. “Every type of person in every class was affected by foreclosure,” said Searby. “Our survey found that foreclosure was widespread across the state. It was not just an urban problem.” According to Searby, between 2007 and Feb. 2011, more than 84,000 households across Pennsylvania experienced a foreclosure.

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