No bubble-bursting is in sight for real estate sales in this new year of 2006. This is now expected to be the second best year in history for residential property sales, according to analysts at the National Association of Realtors. “Home sales are coming down from the mountain peak, but they will level-out at a high plateau – a plateau that is higher than previous peaks in the housing cycle,” said David Lereah, NAR’s chief economist. “This transition to a more normal and balanced market is a good thing.” 

Even though mortgage rates have edged downward in recent weeks, they will generally trend upward during the year, probably to about 6.6 percent for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage, NAR predicts. Existing home sales, expected to reach about 7.1 million units in 2005 (when final figures are available), will probably decline a bit in 2006 – perhaps by about 3.7 percent to a volume of 6.84 million units. New home sales will be about 1.29 million units in 2005 and will probably drop by 4.8 percent to 1.23 million units this year. That would make this year the second best on record for new home sales. 

“The housing market still is fundamentally healthy,” said Dave Wilson, president of the National Association of Home Builders. “Many builders sense some tapering off of buyer demand because of resistance to high prices and rising interest rates, and many companies have begun offering certain incentives in order to maintain their sales and production.” Confidence of home builders during December slid from its summer peak, yet remained well within the positive range, according to NAHB. 

Thomas Stevens, NAR president, made this comment: “Housing has always been the soundest investment for most families. As the old saying goes, homeownership beats the heck out of a drawer full of rent receipts.