‘Fiscal cliff’ no concern for Houston real estate, report says

Unlike other metropolitan areas, Houston never experienced a significant period of overbuilding.There is a lot of action taking place among lawmakers in Washington, D.C., in regard to the future of the federal budget. Some experts speculate if legislators fail to come to an agreement, the national economy and housing sector could take a major hit. However, others say Houston real estate could survive a tumble over this “fiscal cliff.”The fiscal cliff is a series of spending cuts and tax breaks set to expire at the end of the year. Although the entire situation may be avoided if lawmakers from both sides of the political aisle come to an agreement in the coming weeks.One of the biggest tax breaks on the chopping block pertains to mortgage tax deduction. Under the current tax code, borrowers can reduce their taxable income by the amount of interest they pay on their mortgages. The cap for this exemption is currently set at $1 million, so this perk is especially utilized by middle income earners.The fiscal cliff is also expected to weigh heavily on the the national real estate market, but conditions in and around Harris County could result in minimal damage.What's so different about Houston real estate? If certain tax breaks and spending cuts expire at the beginning of 2013, they could push the economy back into a recession. Although Houston homes were not totally unaffected by the previous recession, the impact was not as widespread.According to a report from the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University, this was due, in part, by smart building practices among developers throughout the area. Unlike other metropolitan areas, Houston never experienced a significant period of overbuilding, resulting in healthy inventory levels to match local demand.??? ? Additionally, Houston currently has an unemployment rate well below the national average, the report said. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the area's unemployment rate hit 6.4 percent in September, below the national average of 7.9 percent. A large energy industry presence as well as a number of prestigious colleges and universities is believed to have contributed.?Because Houston has a limited supply and healthy employment rates, the local housing market escaped relatively unscathed following the foreclosure wave that swept through the nation. Overall, borrowers are less likely to default on their mortgages than in many other parts of the country, which makes purchasing a piece of Houston real estate a stable investment.

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