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What’s next for housing in 2021?

Economists look ahead for each sector of the market


As we look ahead to 2021, we remember that this year, the housing market has continued to remain a bright spot in the economy, even as other areas continue to struggle amid stay-at-home orders and economic shutdowns. 

COVID-19 threw the economy for a loop in 2020. In fact, this year seemed to prove anything is possible. From wildfires to hurricanes, the pandemic to murder hornets and a deeply divisive political campaigning season that drove record-setting voter turnout, 2020 did everything but follow its original forecasts. 

2020 started a new decade, and at the end of last year, forecasters and economists saw the biggest trends being the growth of mergers and acquisitions, an expansion of the broker community and increased fintech. 

Many experts, including the Mortgage Bankers Association, pondered the possibilities of a recession, saying it was absolutely a possibility. But they never could have guessed that recession would be due to COVID-19. 

Fannie Mae said housing would help fuel economic growth in 2020, while Freddie Mac said mortgage rates would stay low, and those have certainly been true. 

Now, economists are focusing their sights on 2021, and forecasts are more difficult than ever to create. What will happen with COVID-19? Will we have a vaccine? How will the government at state and federal levels handle the virus and the economy over the next several months or even the next year?

And these questions overshadow every forecast as economists put in their disclaimers next to each prediction, warning they are based on certain COVID-19 assumptions. Simply put, for some sectors of the economy and even of the housing industry, the best response forecasters can commit to is the equivalent of a shrug emoji. 

However, other areas are more clear. HousingWire’s editorial team spoke with economists and professionals to determine the next move for the mortgage, secondary, title, servicing, real estate and fintech sectors of the housing industry.

2020 saw impressive changes on the technology front as the industry worked to remain open during stay-at-home orders and social distancing. Meanwhile low interest rates kept home sales at record highs. 

Servicers worked to keep homeowners from being foreclosed on during a time of unprecedented layoffs as job losses hit a record high of 18.1 million in April, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and servicers put forbearance plans in place to help with loss mitigation. However, as those forbearance programs come to an end in 2021, the future remains unclear. The job losses continue to decrease significantly, but many of those jobs have not returned, making some experts to question foreclosure rates in 2021. 

As we seek to project the year to come, the HousingWire editorial team details the top projections for the year ahead for every sector of the housing industry. We will be rolling out each of these sections throughout January. Click through the following links to read them:

After 2020’s IPOs, 2021 might be the year of MSR
The secondary market comes to the rescue…again
The shifting role of the notary in mortgage title
Servicers likely to keep foreclosures low in 2021
Don’t expect home sales to slow down in 2021
What fintech does your company need in 2021?

To read the full December January issue of HousingWire Magazine, click here.

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