Nationally: Why Were Fewer Contracts Signed in August?

Nationally: Why Were Fewer Contracts Signed in August?
National Association of REALTORS® | September 27, 2018

Pending home sales continued to fall last month, marking the eighth consecutive month for annual decreases, the National Association of REALTORS® reported Thursday. The drop in contracts may be a sign of a growing number of buyers who are being priced out of the market, economists warn.

August PHS InfographicNAR’s Pending Home Sales Index—a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings—fell 1.8 percent to a reading of 104.2 in August. Contract signings are now 2.3 percent lower than a year ago.

The largest declines last month were in the West, where home prices have risen the most. “[This] clearly indicates that affordability is hindering buyers and those affordability issues come from lack of inventory, particularly in moderate price points,” says Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist.

The decline in sales contracts has also coincided with fewer homes on the market. But that may soon change—a record high of Americans now say it’s a good time to sell their home, according to NAR’s third-quarter Housing Opportunities and Market Experience survey.

“Just a couple of years ago about 55 percent of consumers indicated it was a good time to sell; that figure has climbed to 77 percent today,” Yun says. “With prices having risen so quickly, many consumers were deciding to wait to list their homes hoping to see additional price and equity gains. However, with indications that buyers are beginning to pull out, price gains are going to decelerate and potential sellers are considering that now is a good time to list and bring more properties to the market.”

Source: National Association of REALTORS®; REALTOR® Mag News 092718

NAR Report: Market Could Stabilize as More Homes are Listed

NAR Report: Market Could Stabilize as More Homes are Listed
National Association of REALTORS® | September 20, 2018

Existing-home sales remained mostly flat in August, bringing relief to markets following four consecutive months of decreases. Sales gains in the Northeast and Midwest helped to offset downturns in the South and West last month, according to the National Association of REALTORS®’ existing-home sales report, released Thursday.

Existing-home sales—which are completed transaction for single-family homes, townhomes, condos, and co-ops—remained at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.34 million in August, the same as July. Sales are 1.5 percent below a year ago, NAR reports.

“Strong gains in the Northeast and a moderate uptick in the Midwest helped to balance out any losses in the South and West, halting months of downward momentum,” says Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. “With inventory stabilizing and modestly rising, buyers appear ready to step back into the market.”

Here’s a closer look at some of the findings:

  • Home prices: The median existing-home price for all housing types was $264,800—up 4.6 percent from a year ago.
  • Inventory: Total housing inventory at the end of August was at 1.92 million existing homes for sale, up from 1.87 million a year ago. Unsold inventory is at a 4.3-month supply at the current sales pace.
  • Days on the market: Properties stayed on the market an average of 29 days in August, down from 30 days a year ago. Fifty-two percent of homes sold in August were on the market for less than a month. “While inventory continues to show modest year over year gains, it is still far from a healthy level and new home construction is not keeping up to satisfy demand,” Yun says. “Homes continue to fly off the shelves with a majority of properties selling within a month, indicating that more inventory—especially moderately priced, entry-level homes—would propel sales.”
  • All-cash sales: All-cash sales comprised 20 percent of transactions in August, unchanged from a year ago. Investors tend to make up the biggest bulk of all-cash sales. They made up 13 percent of home sales in August, down from 15 percent a year ago.
  • Distressed sales: Foreclosures and short sales accounted for 3 percent of sales in August, the lowest reading since NAR began tracking such data in October 2008. Broken out, 2 percent of sales were foreclosures and 1 percent were short sales.

“We are probably seeing a reaction to the uncertainty around how sustainable recent price increase will be in the near future,” says Ruben Gonzalez, chief economist at Keller Williams. “Nationally, we expect sales to continue to track slightly below last year’s levels as inventory starts to move upward.”

Source: National Association of REALTORS®; REALTOR® Mag News, 092018

August Brings Home Sales Increase

August Brings Home Sales Increase
Greater Nashville REALTORS®, Press Release September 7, 2018

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Sept. 7, 2018) – There were 3,961 closings reported for the month of August, according to figures provided by Greater Nashville REALTORS®. This represents a 2.0 percent increase from the 3,883 closings reported for August 2017.

Year-to-date closings total 27,205 a 0.2 percent decrease compared to the 27,248 closings reported through July 2017.

“The numbers in August show a healthy increase in closings compared to August 2017,” said Greater Nashville REALTORS® President Sher Powers. “We’re also seeing strong pending sales as we head into September, which bodes well for fall closings.”

There were 3,152 properties under contract at the end of the month, compared to the 3,939 properties under contract at this time last year. The average number of days on the market for a single-family home was 27 days.

The median residential price for a single-family home during August was $305,000 and for a condominium it was $224,900. This compares with last year’s median residential and condominium prices of $285,000 and $207,061.

Active inventory at the end of August was 12,150, which increased from 9,208 in 2017.

“As inventory shows moderate increases across Middle Tennessee, the market is calming and offering more home options for buyers, which has inspired new buyers to step into the market and more sellers to list their homes,” added Powers.

About Us: Greater Nashville REALTORS® is one of Middle Tennessee’s largest professional trade associations and serves as the primary voice for Nashville-area property owners. REALTOR® is a registered trademark that may be used only by real estate professionals who are members of the National Association of REALTORS® and subscribe to its strict code of ethics.

The data collected for this release represents nine Middle Tennessee counties: Cheatham, Davidson, Dickson, Maury, Robertson, Rutherford, Sumner, Williamson and Wilson.

View the August 2018 Market Data Infographic

Source: Greater Nashville REALTORS®, Press Release 090718

Mortgage Rates Mostly Holding Steady

Mortgage Rates Mostly Holding Steady
Freddie Mac | August 31, 2018

Mortgage rates haven’t been this stable since the fall of 2016. Rates did inch up this week, but only slightly and are still offering prospective buyers a window of opportunity, says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist.

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“The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage barely inched up this week, continuing the summer trend of essentially being flat,” says Khater. “While sales and price growth have softened these last few months, this leveling of rates may be helping more buyers reach the market. Purchase mortgage applications this week were once again modestly above year-ago levels.”

The recent slowdown in price appreciation in several markets, mixed with these steady mortgage rates, is “good news” for many prospective buyers who may have been priced out earlier this year, Khater says.

“Given the strength of the economy, it is possible for home sales to pick up even more before year’s end,” Khater says. “The key factor will be if affordably priced inventory increases enough to continue this recent trend of cooling price appreciation.”

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages with mortgage rates for the week ending Aug. 30:

30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.52 percent, with an average 0.5 point, rising from last week’s 4.51 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 3.82 percent.

15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.97 percent, with an average 0.5 point, falling from last week’s 3.98 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.12 percent.

5-year hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages: averaged 3.85 percent, with an average 0.3 point, rising from last week’s 3.82 percent average. A year ago, 5-year ARMs averaged 3.14 percent.

Source: “Mortgage Rates Tick Up,” Freddie Mac (Aug. 30, 2018); REALTOR® Magazine 083118

Mortgage Rates Fall for Third Straight Week

Mortgage Rates Fall for Third Straight Week
Freddie Mac | August 24, 2018

Borrowers continued to get relief with mortgage rates this week, as the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage sank lower for the third consecutive week. Mortgage rates are now at their lowest level since mid-April.

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“Backed by very strong consumer spending, the economy is red-hot this month, which is in turn rippling through the financial markets and driving equities higher,” says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about the housing market, where it appears sales activity crested in late 2017. Existing-home sales have now stepped back annually for the fifth straight month, and purchase mortgage applications this week were barely above year ago levels.”

Khater notes that “it is clear affordability constraints” have cooled the housing market, particularly in expensive coastal markets. “Many metro areas desperately need more new and existing affordable inventory to break out of this slump,” he notes.

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages with mortgage rates for the week ending Aug. 23:

30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.51 percent, with an average 0.5 point, falling from last week’s 4.53 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 3.86 percent.

15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.98 percent, with an average 0.5 point, falling from last week’s 4.01 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.16 percent.

5-year hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages: averaged 3.82 percent, with an average 0.3 point, down from last week’s 3.87 percent average. A year ago, 5-year ARMs averaged 3.17 percent.

Source: “Mortgage Rates Maintain Downward Trend,” Freddie Mac (Aug. 23, 2018); REALTOR® Magazine 082418

Nationally: Inventory Drought Pushes New-Home Sales to 9-Month Low

Inventory Drought Pushes New-Home Sales to 9-Month Low
National Association of Home Builders | August 24, 2018

House 1059The shortage of homes for-sale continues to depress sales. Sales of newly built, single-family homes dropped last month and are now at the lowest level since last October, the Commerce Department reported Thursday. This follows on the heels of the National Association of REALTORS®’ report earlier this week that showed existing-home sales also dipped in July, reaching their sluggish pace in more than two years.

“A lack of overall housing inventory is pushing up home prices, which is hurting affordability and causing prospective buyers to delay making a home purchase,” says Randy Noel, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders.

New-homes sales were at a 627,000 rate in July, about 1.7 percent lower than June sales. However, sales are now 7.2 percent higher than a year ago.

“Although this month marks the lowest sales pace since last October, we continue to see solid housing demand due to economic strengthening and positive demographic tailwinds,” says Danushka Nanayakkara-Skillington, NAHB’s senior economist. “Builders need to manage rising construction costs to keep their homes competitively priced for the newcomers to the housing market.”

The median price of new homes was $328,700 in July, which is 1.8 percent higher than a year ago.

Regionally, new-homes sales were up in the West (10.9 percent month-over-month) and the Midwest (up 9.9 percent month-over-month). However, those gains could not offset a 52.3 percent decline in the Northeast and a 3.3 percent drop in the South last month. “Year-to-date, sales in the Northeast are down 14.5 percent as the region deals with the impact from tax reform and persistent affordability issues,” NAHB notes in its release.

The slowdown in housing is getting the Federal Reserve’s attention, as reflected in the minutes of the central bank’s last meeting, which was released this week. Ward McCarthy, Jefferies LLC economist, noted:

“Housing activity in general has retreated from levels that were temporarily boosted by 2017 natural disasters—hurricanes and wildfires—that forced displaced households to seek alternative housing. The housing sector is also undergoing an adjustment to affordability that is less attractive than it was for most of the cycle, as well as changes in the treatment of SALT deductions in the federal tax code. That is the bad news. The good news is that there is no evidence of the type of imbalances that could cause a sharp downturn, such as heavy inventories and/or rising mortgage default and delinquency rates. We also note this is not the first temporary slowdown in housing activity this cycle.”

Source: “New-Home Sales Sink to a 9-Month Low as Housing Market Wobbles,” MarketWatch (Aug. 23, 2018) and National Association of Home Builders; REALTOR® Magazine 082418

Nationally: Existing-Home Sales Reach Slowest Pace in 2 Years

Existing-Home Sales Reach Slowest Pace in 2 Years
National Association of REALTORS® | August 22, 2018

Existing-home sales slowed for the fourth consecutive month in July, reaching their most sluggish pace in more than two years, the National Association of REALTORS® reports. The West was the only major U.S. region to see an increase in sales last month.

1808_NAR-July-EHSTotal existing-home sales, which include completed transactions for single-family homes, townhomes, condos, and co-ops, fell 0.7 percent month over month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.34 million in July. Sales are now 1.5 percent lower than a year ago.

Rising home prices may be prompting would-be home buyers to pull away, says NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “Led by a notable decrease in closings in the Northeast, existing-home sales trailed off again last month, sliding to their slowest pace since February 2016 at 5.21 million [units],” Yun says. “Too many would-be buyers are either being priced out or are deciding to postpone their search until more homes in their price range come onto the market.”

Yun notes that a steady climb in home prices over the past year—along with an uptick in mortgage rates this spring—is cooling sales. “This weakening in affordability has put the most pressure on would-be first-time buyers in recent months, who continue to represent only around a third of sales despite a very healthy economy and labor market,” he says. First-time buyers comprised 32 percent of sales in July, down from 33 percent a year ago.

Here’s a closer look at some key indicators from NAR’s July housing report:

  • Home prices: The median existing-home price for all housing types was $296,600, a 4.5 percent increase from a year ago.
  • Inventories: Total housing inventory fell 0.5 percent to 1.92 million existing homes available for sale, unchanged from a year ago. At the current sales pace, unsold inventory is at a 4.3-month supply.
  • Days on the market: Fifty-five percent of homes sold were on the market for less than a month. Properties typically stayed on the market for 27 days, down from 30 days a year ago. “Listings continue to go under contract in under a month, which highlights the feedback from REALTORS® that buyers are swiftly snatching up moderately-priced properties,” Yun says. “Existing supply is still not at a healthy level, and new-home construction is not keeping up to meet demand.”
  • All-cash sales: All-cash transactions compromised 20 percent of sales, up from 19 percent a year ago. Individual investors tend to account for the biggest bulk of cash sales. They purchased 13 percent of homes, unchanged from a year ago.
  • Distressed sales: Foreclosures and short sales accounted for 3 percent of sales, down from 5 percent a year ago. Broken out, 2 percent of sales were foreclosures, and 1 percent were short sales.

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Source: National Association of REALTORS®; REALTOR® Magazine Online 082218