Don’t worry, be happy…even if you read the Wall Street Journal

        I subscribe to the Wall Street Journal, but if it were my sole source of info, I would have an especially dim view of the economy’s prospects. Thankfully, I have an email inbox that attracts more balanced insights about the economy and the housing market, without any apparent political agenda.

        As economist Ingo Winzer writes today in his “National Economic Outlook,” the Journal’s headline and article a few days ago, Grim Job Report Sinks Markets, “suggests an economy in retreat…but the May job numbers look like more of the same moderate growth we’ve been getting in recent months.” Winzer, who is president of Local Market Monitor, which

Big-ticket items and small luxuries indicate consumer optimism.

forecasts price trends in more than 300 markets, points to job growth of 1.4% year over year, consistent with growth rates of previous months, as well as a 2% increase in overall manufacturing jobs, with an 8% increase in auto industry employment. With jobs growing fastest in businesses such as furniture stores, restaurants and bars, Winzer concludes that “consumers are buying big-ticket items and are treating themselves to small luxuries, important signs of optimism.”

        Winzer also forecasts that the housing market will continue to grow because “consumers are again willing to borrow money” and that, although home prices are down fractionally over the last 12 months, they rose in one-third of the 315 markets that Local Market Monitor covers. The economist predicts that consumers “will accelerate their buying during the next year and finally produce a real estate recovery.”

        Winzer is not alone in his optimistic outlook.  A report by The Demand Institute, which was recently formed by The Conference Board and A.G. Nielsen, the respected research firm, indicates that, “Home valuations will start to climb again while adjacent consumer industries will capture significant new growth opportunities in 2012 and beyond as the U.S. housing market finally turns the corner.” Further, The Demand Institute predicted that, “average home prices will increase by up to 1 percent in the second half of 2012. By 2014, home prices will increase by as much as 2.5 percent. From 2015 to 2017, the study projects annual increases between 3 and 4 percent…and the strongest markets could capture average gains of 5 percent or more in the coming years.” 

        On this latter point, we will add our own prediction that the most popular markets favored by baby boomers looking for high quality golf communties –- coastal towns like Charleston and Savannah, college towns like Chapel Hill and Charlottesville, mountain areas like Asheville and upstate areas of South Carolina –- will be among the strongest housing markets and may see increases of greater than 5%. For a sampling of current properties and homes for sale in these and other popular markets in the southern U.S., please check out


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