The August jobs report showed a definite lull in the American economy, but recent home price and sales improvements are setting the stage for an even stronger housing market in 2013, according to Mike Fratantoni, vice president of research for the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Fratantoni told HousingWire the slow economic recovery may create a pipeline of first-time homebuyers. With rates and prices low, those buyers may be willing to jump into the market in the coming months, he suggested. 

Fratantoni said recent data shows the U.S. economy hitting a “soft patch.”  Yet, home prices are looking up in many markets after years of steep price declines, creating the momentum for additional home listings and purchases in 2013, Fratantoni told HousingWire while attending the MBA’s Risk Management and Quality Assurance Forum in Dallas.

The MBA economist noted first-time homebuyers vacated the market after taking advantage of homebuyer tax credits offered back in 2009 and 2010.  Those tax credits moved first-time homebuyer sales ahead a few years, reducing overall demand as housing prices plunged to their natural bottom.

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