The West, South Lift New-Home Sales

The West, South Lift New-Home Sales
National Association of Home Builders
article by Daily Real Estate News | April 25, 2018

House 1043Builders saw more sales of newly built single-family homes last month, as the spring selling season got underway. New-home sales posted a 4 percent increase in March month over month, the U.S. Commerce Department reported Tuesday. New single-family homes reached a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 694,000 units in March, the second highest reading since the Great Recession. The West and South regions of the U.S. led to most of that uptick.

“We saw sales move forward in the West and South regions, which is in line with recent evidence of faster growth in population, employment, and single-family construction in these areas,” says Michael Neal, senior economist for the National Association of Home Builders. “But with nationwide economic growth and favorable demographics, we can expect continued strengthening of the housing market across the country.”

New-home sales rose 28.3 percent month over month in March in the West and were up by 0.8 percent in the South. Sales plunged 54.8 percent in the Northeast and by 2.4 percent in the Midwest. Bad winter weather has been blamed on softening sales in the Northeast in recent weeks.

Nationwide, the median sales price of a new home sold was $337,200 in March. Inventories remain tight at a 5.2-month supply at the current sales pace.

While new-home sales gained some ground last month, economists say that construction in the sector is still not robust enough to catch up to buyer demand. The low inventories of homes for sale—in both the new and existing-home sectors—are prompting prices to soar. The S&P/Case Shiller national index, reflecting February data, showed home prices rising to a near four-year high. National Association of REALTORS®’ median home price data also shows gains of about double the average wage growth.

“Even as the tightening job market is starting to boost incomes, those looking to buy are facing a double whammy of fast rising home prices and higher mortgage rates,” says Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, in reaction to the S&P/Case Shiller index’s release on Tuesday. “The way to make housing more affordable is to build more homes, particularly small-sized entry-level homes and condominiums.”

Source: National Association of Home Builders and National Association of REALTORS®; REALTOR® Magazine Online, Daily Real Estate News 042518

Nationally: Home Sales Overcome Inventory, Price Woes

Nationally: Home Sales Overcome Inventory, Price Woes
National Association of REALTORS®
article by Daily Real Estate News | April 23, 2018

House 1042Inventory shortages and pressing affordability issues didn’t suppress home sales activity in March. Total sales of existing homes, including single-family homes, townhomes, condos, and co-ops, increased 1.1 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.6 million, according to the National Association of REALTORS®. However, home sales are still 1.2 percent below a year ago.

“Robust gains last month in the Northeast and Midwest—a reversal from the weather-impacted declines seen in February—helped overall sales activity rise to its strongest pace since last November,” says Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. “The unwelcoming news is that while the healthy economy is generating sustained interest in buying a home this spring, sales are lagging year-ago levels because supply is woefully low, and home prices keep climbing above what some would-be buyers can afford.”

Here’s a closer look at some key indicators from NAR’s latest existing-home sales report for March:

  • Home prices: The median price for existing homes of all types was $250,400, up 5.8 percent from a year ago. “Although the strong job market and recent tax cuts are boosting the incomes of many households, speedy price growth is squeezing overall affordability in several markets, especially those out West,” Yun says.
  • Inventories: Total housing inventory rose 5.7 percent to 1.67 million existing homes available for sale, but that’s still 7.2 percent lower than a year ago. Inventories have fallen year over year for 34 consecutive months. At the current sales pace, unsold inventory is at a 3.6-month supply.
  • All-cash sales: Cash transactions comprised 20 percent of sales, down from 23 percent a year ago. Individual investors tend to account for the bulk of all-cash sales. They purchased 15 percent of homes on the market last month, down from 18 percent a year ago.
  • Distressed sales: Foreclosures and short sales made up 4 percent of home sales. Broken out, 3 percent of sales were foreclosures and 1 percent were short sales.
  • Days on the market: Fifty percent of homes that sold in March were on the market for less than a month. Properties stayed on the market for an average of 30 days, down from 34 days a year ago.

“REALTORS® throughout the country are seeing the seasonal ramp-up in buyer demand this spring—but without the commensurate increase in new listings coming onto the market,” Yun says. “As a result, competition is swift, and homes are going under contract in roughly a month, which is four days faster than last year and a remarkable 17 days faster than March 2016.”

Source: National Association of REALTORS®; REALTOR® Magazine Online, Daily Real Estate News 042318

Mortgage Rates Jump to 4-Year High

Mortgage Rates Jump to 4-Year High
Freddie Mac   article by Daily Real Estate News | April 20, 2018

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After mostly stagnant activity levels in recent weeks, mortgage rates are back on the move. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rose to its highest level since January 2014 this week, also seeing its largest weekly increase since February of this year, Freddie Mac reports.

Average mortgage rates were higher across the board too, posting weekly increases to not only the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage but also to 15-year and 5-year hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages.

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages in mortgage rates for the week ending April 19:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.47 percent, with an average 0.5 point, rising from last week’s 4.42 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 3.97 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.94 percent, with an average 0.4 point, rising from last week’s 3.87 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.23 percent.
  • 5-year hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages: averaged 3.67 percent, with an average 0.3 point, increasing from last week’s 3.61 percent average. A year ago, 5-year ARMs averaged 3.10 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac; REALTOR® Magazine Online, Daily Real Estate News 042018

Another Week of Mostly Flat Mortgage Rates

Another Week of Mostly Flat Mortgage Rates
Freddie Mac   article by Daily Real Estate News | April 13, 2018

Borrowing costs haven’t budged much in recent weeks, offering some relief from the weekly rate increases that had almost become routine at the start of 2018.

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“Mortgage rates have been holding steady over the past two months,” says Len Kiefer, Freddie Mac’s deputy chief economist. “Rates have bounced around 4.4 percent since mid-February. Rates could break out and head higher if inflation continues to firm. … If inflation continues to trend higher, we may see two or three more rate hikes from the Fed this year, and mortgage rates could follow. For now, mortgage rates are still quite low by historical standards, helping to support homebuyer affordability as the spring home buying season ramps up.”

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages with mortgage rates for the week ending April 12:

30-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 4.42 percent, with an average 0.4 point, up from last week’s 4.40 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 4.08 percent.

15-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 3.87 percent, with an average 0.4 point, holding the same average as last week. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.34 percent.

5-year hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages averaged 3.61 percent, with an average 0.3 point, dropping from last week’s 3.62 percent average. A year ago, 5-year ARMs averaged 3.18 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac; REALTOR® Magazine Online, Daily Real Estate News 041318

U.S. News Reveals Best Places to Live List

U.S. News Reveals Best Places to Live List
U.S. News & World Report
article by Daily Real Estate News | April 11, 2018

Austin, Texas, ranked number one for the second year in a row as the top place to live in the United States, according to new rankings released by U.S. News & World Report. The magazine ranks the 125 largest metros based on affordability, employment prospects, and quality of life each year.

“When deciding on a place to settle down, it’s important to understand that where a person lives can impact their well-being,” says Kim Castro, executive editor at U.S. News. “The top-ranked places are areas where citizens can feel the most fulfilled socially, physically, and financially.”

The top 12 best places to live in 2018 are:

  1. Austin, Texas
  2. Colorado Springs, Colorado
  3. Denver, Colorado
  4. Des Moines, Iowa
  5. Fayetteville, Arkansas
  6. Portland, Oregon
  7. Huntsville, Alabama
  8. Washington, D.C.
  9. Minneapolis, Minnesota
  10. Seattle, Washington
  11. Nashville, Tennessee
  12. Grand Rapids, Michigan

Source: U.S. News & World Report; REALTOR® Magazine Online, Daily Real Estate News 041118