Standard & Poor’s/Case Shiller housing index jumped 9.3% in February—the most in seven years—but before you get too excited, there are a few key points to be mindful of when it comes to the housing market.

On Friday, May 10th, the FOX Business Network will host a day-long special on the U.S. housing market and its prospects for 2013.

Gerri Willis, author of Home Rich and host of FBN’s The Willis Report (6 p.m. weekdays), weighs in on the 5 things you need to know about the housing market now:


  1. All signs point to a bubble. The government isn’t warning of a housing bubble because the housing numbers they survey when it comes to inflation aren’t home prices but apartment rents, called 'Owner’s Equivalent Rent.' What’s worse, the government figures this number using estimates from homeowners. Not exactly scientific. So, if you can’t rely on government numbers, take a look at what’s going on in some of the hardest hit markets during the recession. For example, Las Vegas prices were up 31% year-over-year in April as inventory contracted. The story is the same in many markets. Less inventory, higher prices.

  2. Be prepared for stiff competition. If you’re  shopping for a home, you may find yourself competing with professionals investors or flippers or all cash offers. This reduces your negotiating leverage.

  3. Get the money ahead of time. If you are getting a loan to buy, do the paperwork first. If you have a commitment from your lender in hand ahead of time, your negotiating position will become much stronger.

  4. Don’t get caught in a bidding war. Yes, they are happening in many markets across the country. For most of us, a bidding war is a recipe for disaster. Bidders end up overpaying and regretting it for a long time.

  5. It’s local. This is the oldest saw in real estate because it’s true! While Las Vegas is showing every sign of a bubble housing market, other markets are not. Survey the local metrics to find out the state of play in the market you want to buy. What are comps? Do similar homes command the same price as the one you fell in love with? What is the going price per square foot? What’s the state of the local economy? Is employment expanding or contracting?