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Fannie Mae sees light at the end of housing tunnel

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Home sales in the second quarter of 2011 were bad, according to Fannie Mae. Home prices also remain volatile, moving with gains and losses, over the past two years. However, according to a housing forecast report card released on Friday from the government-sponsored enterprise, 2012 is likely to be a different story. Next year will likely see meaningful gains in both categories, especially in the multifamily space. Both home sales and house prices should begin to improve from the third quarter 2011, with faster growth in the final two quarters of 2012. Meanwhile, the GSE said full-year growth is projected to slow to 2.4%, down from 2.8% in 2010. There are many economic uncertainties dragging the recovery, the research states. Disruptions in Europe may impact the U.S. banking system to the downside, for example. Furthermore, consecutive poor employment reports are directly impacting home purchases. "Clearly, the renewed slowdown in hiring underscores the uncertainty surrounding the economic outlook," said Fannie Mae Chief Economist Doug Duncan. "The lack of sustained, robust job growth continues to push out into the future the time for the housing market to heal, which is crucial to a meaningful economic expansion." Fannie Mae also predicts mortgage rates on 30-year fixed to hit 5% in the second quarter of 2012 and keep rising from there. Liquidations, on the other hand will remain at low levels for the long term. Demands for rentals should remain robust, according to Kim Betancourt, Fannie Mae director of multifamily economics and market research, in a separate research report. "There is some concern that multifamily fundamentals may stagnate if job growth remains anemic, however, new rental supply will be limited, likely resulting in keeping current rent levels stable," Betancourt wrote. "The outlook for the second half of 2011 remains the same for the multifamily sector, with an annualized increase of 3% expected for average asking rents and the vacancy rate expected to stay fairly stable, declining to 6.5% from 6.75% by the end of the year," the text states. Write to Jacob Gaffney. Follow him on Twitter @jacobgaffney.

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