The U.S. housing market: A sneak peek at what’s to come in 2013

If you've been following this blog, you've probably seen our recent posts about the U.S. housing market being in the midst of a fragile recovery. Just the other day we reported that the industry is 51 percent back to normal, according to real estate research group Trulia. There has been a substantial amount of positive data in recent weeks causing a surge of optimism in builders and buyers, and it's only natural for people to wonder if this progress will continue in 2013.

With mortgage rates at historic lows – the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is at 3.24 percent, says real estate website Zillow – borrowers who are able to qualify for a loan will see low rates and housing prices, making homeownership more affordable than it was a decade ago. One thing to be wary of, however, is that only six in 10 people qualify for a mortgage, according to Zillow, so you'll want to make sure your finances are in check before applying.

Though home prices are still lower than they were before the housing crisis, they've risen 5.3 percent since October 2011 when the market was at its worst. A Zillow survey showed that economists and analysts expect home values to rise an average of 3.1 percent in 2013, so those who are hoping to sell their home will likely be able to get more money for it than they could in past years.

When it comes to buying or selling a home, it will be important to focus on local housing markets to determine the best way to proceed. Zillow has determined, for example, that metro areas in the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic are great places for buyers while the West and Southwest are more ideal for sellers.

For people looking to take advantage of these trends in the housing industry come 2013 by potentially buying a home, it's best to work with a lender that uses loan management software. This can help borrowers ensure that they are being financially responsible and maintaining their monthly payments.