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

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

Nationally: Has the Inventory Crunch Begun to Subside?

Nationally: Has the Inventory Crunch Begun to Subside?
National Association of REALTORS® | July 30, 2018

Nashville June2018InventoryContract signings rose in all four major regions across the U.S. last month, a sign that dwindling home sales—which have plagued the market at an unusual time of year this summer—will reverse course in the coming months, the National Association of REALTORS® reports.

NAR’s Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, increased 0.9 percent month over month in June to a reading of 106.9. “After two straight months of declines in pending home sales, home shoppers in a majority of markets had a little more success finding a home to buy last month,” says NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “The positive forces of faster economic growth and steady hiring are being met by the negative forces of higher home prices and mortgage rates. Even with slightly more homeowners putting their home on the market, inventory is still subpar and not meeting demand. As a result, affordability constraints are pricing out some would-be buyers and keeping overall sales activity below last year’s pace.”

Despite last month’s rise, contract signings are still down 2.5 percent compared to a year ago, NAR reports. Nevertheless, Yun says the worst of the supply crunch may now have passed. In June, existing inventory was up slightly on an annual basis, marking the first increase in three years. Several large metros saw year-over-year surges in inventory levels last month:

  • Portland, Oregon.: +24 percent
  • Providence, Rhode Island: +20 percent
  • Seattle, Washington: +19 percent
  • Nashville, Tennessee: +17 percent
  • San Jose, California: +15 percent

“Home price growth remains swift, and listings are still going under contract at a robust pace in most of the country, which indicates that even with rising inventory in many markets, demand still significantly outpaces what’s available for sale,” Yun says. “However, if this trend of increasing supply continues in the months ahead, prospective buyers will hopefully begin to see more choices and softer price growth.”

Source: National Association of REALTORS®; REALTOR® Magazine 073018

Nationally: Sky-High Home Prices Shatter Ceiling Again

Nationally: Sky-High Home Prices Shatter Ceiling Again
National Association of REALTORS® | July 23, 2018

Ongoing inventory shortages helped to push the median sale price for existing homes to another all-time high in June, the National Association of REALTORS® reports. The median price for all housing types was $276,900, surpassing a previous record set in May. Home prices have surged 5.2 percent since a year ago.

June2018NARsnapshotThe mix of low inventory and high home prices may have had influence on existing-home sales in June, which fell for the third consecutive month. Total existing-home sales, which include completed transactions for single-family homes, townhomes, condos, and co-ops, declined 0.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.38 million. Sales are now 2.2 percent lower than a year ago, with drops in the South and West offsetting gains in the Northeast and Midwest.

“There continues to be a mismatch since the spring between the growing level of homebuyer demand in most of the country in relation to the actual pace of home sales, which are declining,” says NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “The root cause is without a doubt the severe housing shortage that is not releasing its grip on the nation’s housing market. What is for sale in most areas is going under contract very fast and, in many cases, has multiple offers. This dynamic is keeping home price growth elevated, pricing out would-be buyers and ultimately slowing sales.”

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

  • Inventory: Total housing inventory rose 4.3 percent to 1.95 million existing homes available for sale, which is 0.5 percent higher than a year ago. That marks the first year-over-year increase since June 2015. Unsold inventory is at a 4.3-month supply at the current sales pace.
  • Days on the market: Fifty-eight percent of homes sold in June were on the market less than a month. Properties, on average, stayed on the market for 26 days, down from 28 days a year ago. “It’s important to note that despite the modest year-over-year rise in inventory, the current level is far from what’s needed to satisfy demand levels,” Yun says. “Furthermore, it remains to be seen if this modest increase will stick given the fact that the robust economy is bringing more interested buyers into the market and new-home construction is failing to keep up.”
  • First-time buyers: First-time buyers comprised 31 percent of sales, down from 32 percent a year ago.
  • All-cash sales: All-cash transactions made up 22 percent of transactions, up from 18 percent a year ago. Individual investors account for the biggest bulk of cash sales. Investors comprised 13 percent of home sales in June, unchanged from a year ago.
  • Distressed sales: Foreclosures and short sales made up 3 percent of sales, the lowest since NAR began tracking such data in October 2008. Distressed sales are down 4 percent from 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 072318

Yun: Spring Was the Season of ‘Unmet Expectations’

Yun: Spring Was the Season of ‘Unmet Expectations’
National Association of REALTORS® | June 27, 2018

1806_May_PHSFor the fifth consecutive month, pending home sales dropped in May—a sign that the recently ended spring buying season didn’t live up to the hype typical for real estate’s traditionally busiest time of year, the National Association of REALTORS® reported Wednesday. Contract signings also eased last month, and a significant sales decline in the South offset gains in other regions of the country.

NAR’s Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, fell 0.5 percent in May to a reading of 105.9. The index is down 2.2 percent on an annual basis. NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun says this year’s spring buying season will be remembered as one of “unmet expectations,” with pending home sales at the second lowest level in the past year. He says inventory shortage is the main culprit. “REALTORS® in most of the country continue to describe their markets as highly competitive and fast-moving, but without enough new and existing inventory for sale, activity has essentially stalled,” Yun says.

However, buyer demand hasn’t slowed, which is evident in quicker sales and strong price growth, Yun says. The troubling reality is that gains in home prices continue to outpace income growth, housing inventory has fallen for 36 consecutive months, and listings typically go under contract in just over three weeks.

“With the cost of buying a home getting more expensive, it’s clear the summer months will be a true test for the housing market,” Yun says. “Several would-be buyers this spring were kept out of the market because of supply and affordability constraints. The healthy economy and job market should keep many of them actively looking to buy, and any rise in inventory would certainly help them find a home.”

Source: National Association of REALTORS®; REALTOR® Magazine Online 062718

Mortgage Rates Drop Again This Week

Mortgage Rates Drop Again This Week
Freddie Mac | June 22, 2018

Borrowers found lower mortgage rates again this week, marking the third decrease in rates in the past four weeks.

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“After a sharp run-up in the early part of 2018, rates have stabilized over the last three months, with only a modest uptick since March,” says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “However, existing-home sales have hit a wall, declining in six of the last nine months on a year-over-year basis.”

The National Association of REALTORS® reported earlier this week that existing-home sales—completed transactions for single-family homes, townhomes, condos, and co-ops—dropped 0.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.43 million in May. Sales are now 3 percent lower than a year ago. Home prices also reached a new all-time high last month—a median of $264,800.

“Persistently low supply levels, and not this year’s climb in mortgage rates, are handcuffing sales—especially at the lower end of the market,” Khater says. “Home shoppers can’t buy inventory that doesn’t exist.”

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages with mortgage rates for the week ending June 21:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.57 percent, with an average 0.5 point, falling from last week’s 4.62 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 3.90 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.04 percent, with an average 0.4 point, falling from last week’s 4.07 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.17 percent.
  • 5-year hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages: averaged 3.83 percent, with an average 0.3 point, unchanged from a week ago. A year ago, 5-year ARMs averaged 3.14 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac; REALTOR® Magazine 062218