Existing-Home Sales, Prices Maintain Uptrend

EXISTING-HOME SALES, PRICES MAINTAIN UPTREND
Article by: Daily Real Estate News; December 20, 2012

Existing-home sales continued to improve in November with low inventory pressuring home prices upward, according to the National Association of REALTORS®.

Total existing-home sales — completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops — rose 5.9 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.04 million in November from a downwardly revised 4.76 million in October, and are 14.5 percent higher than the 4.40 million-unit pace in November 2011. Sales are at the highest level since November 2009 when the annual pace spiked at 5.44 million.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said there is healthy market demand. “Momentum continues to build in the housing market from growing jobs and a bursting out of household formation,” he said. “With lower rental vacancy rates and rising rents, combined with still historically favorable affordability conditions, more people are buying homes. Areas impacted by Hurricane Sandy show storm-related disruptions but overall activity in the Northeast is up, offset by gains in unaffected areas.”

The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $180,600 in November, up 10.1 percent from November 2011. This is the ninth consecutive monthly year-over-year price gain, which last occurred from September 2005 to May 2006.

Distressed Sales

Distressed homes — foreclosures and short sales sold at deep discounts — accounted for 22 percent of November sales (12 percent were foreclosures and 10 percent were short sales), down from 24 percent in October and 29 percent in November 2011. Foreclosures sold for an average discount of 20 percent below market value in November, while short sales were discounted 16 percent.

“The market share of distressed property sales will fall into the teens next year based on a diminishing number of seriously delinquent mortgages,” Yun said.

Total housing inventory at the end of November fell 3.8 percent to 2.03 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 4.8-month supply at the current sales pace; it was 5.3 months in October, and is the lowest housing supply since September of 2005 when it was 4.6 months.

Listed inventory is 22.5 percent below a year ago when there was a 7.1-month supply. Raw unsold inventory is now at the lowest level since December 2001 when there were 1.89 million homes on the market.

According to Freddie Mac, the national average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage fell to a record low 3.35 percent in November from 3.38 percent in October; the rate was 3.99 percent in November 2011.

NAR President Gary Thomas said there’s been speculation of a rise in short sales before the end of the year with pending expiration of the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act. “However, there’s been no movement in short sales, their market share is staying in a narrow range, and they’re still taking much longer to sell — typically three months,” he said.

“The fact remains it is extremely difficult to expedite a short sale, and banks’ response to client urgency is only starting to improve. However, we’re hopeful that the act will be extended before it expires on December 31 so sellers don’t have to pay taxes on forgiven mortgage debt, which would be unfairly treated as income for owners who are selling under duress,” Thomas said.

Transaction Types

The median time on market for all homes was 70 days in November, slightly below 71 days in October, but is 28.6 percent below 98 days in November 2011. Thirty-two percent of homes sold in November were on the market for less than a month, while 20 percent were on the market for six months or longer; these findings are unchanged from October.

First-time buyers accounted for 30 percent of purchases in November, down from 31 percent in October and 35 percent in November 2011.

All-cash sales were at 30 percent of transactions in November, up slightly from 29 percent in October and 28 percent in November 2011. Investors, who account for most cash sales, purchased 19 percent of homes in November, little changed from 20 percent in October; they were 19 percent in November 2011.

Single-family home sales rose 5.5 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.44 million in November from 4.21 million in October, and are 12.4 percent higher than the 3.95 million-unit level in November 2011. The median existing single-family home price was $180,600 in November, up 10.1 percent from a year ago.

Existing condominium and co-op sales jumped 9.1 percent to an annualized level of 600,000 in November from 550,000 in October, and are 33.3 percent above the 450,000-unit pace a year ago. The median existing condo price was $181,000 in November, which is 10.6 percent higher than November 2011.

Regional Performance

Existing-home sales in the Northeast rose 6.9 percent to an annual rate of 620,000 in November and are 14.8 percent above November 2011. The median price in the Northeast was $232,900, down 2.0 percent from a year ago.

Existing-home sales in the Midwest increased 7.2 percent in November to a pace of 1.19 million and are 21.4 percent higher than a year ago. The median price in the Midwest was $141,600, which is 7.0 percent above November 2011.

In the South, existing-home sales rose 7.9 percent to an annual level of 2.04 million in November and are 17.2 percent above November 2011. The median price in the South was $157,400, up 10.5 percent from a year ago.

Existing-home sales in the West rose 0.8 percent a pace of 1.19 million in November and are 4.4 percent higher than a year ago. With ongoing inventory constraints, the median price in the West was $248,300, which is 23.9 percent above November 2011.

Source: Daily Real Estate News, 122012; National Association of REALTORS® | Blog distribution provided by Kenneth Bargers and Bargers Solutions, member of Pilkerton Realtors, residential real estate services located in Nashville, Tennessee

Existing-Home Sales Continue to Climb in November

Existing-home sales rose again in November and remain above a year ago, according to the National Association of Realtors®. Also released today were periodic benchmark revisions with downward adjustments to sales and inventory data since 2007, led by a decline in for-sale-by-owners.

Although rebenchmarking resulted in lower adjustments to several years of home sales data, the month-to-month characterization of market conditions did not change. There are no changes to home prices or month’s supply.

The latest monthly data shows total existing-home sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family, townhomes, condominiums, and co-ops, increased 4.0 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.42 million in November from 4.25 million in October, and are 12.2 percent above the 3.94 million-unit pace in November 2010.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said more people are taking advantage of the buyer’s market. “Sales reached the highest mark in 10 months and are 34 percent above the cyclical low point in mid-2010 – a genuine sustained sales recovery appears to be developing,” he said. “We’ve seen healthy gains in contract activity, so it looks like more people are realizing the great opportunity that exists in today’s market for buyers with long-term plans.”

According to Freddie Mac, the national average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage fell to a record low 3.99 percent in November from 4.07 percent in October; the rate was 4.30 percent in November 2010. Records date back to 1971.

NAR President Moe Veissi, broker-owner of Veissi & Associates Inc. in Miami, said housing affordability conditions have set a new record high. “With record low mortgage interest rates and bargain home prices, NAR’s housing affordability index shows that a median-income family can easily afford a median-priced home,” he said.

“With consumer price inflation rising by more than 3 percent this year, consumers are looking to lock in steady payments by taking out long-term fixed-rate mortgages. However, the problem remains that some financially qualified families who are willing to stay well within their means are being denied the opportunity to buy in today’s market by the overly restrictive mortgage underwriting situation,” Veissi said.

An elevated level of contract failures continues to hold back a broader sales recovery. Contract failures were reported by 33 percent of NAR members in November, unchanged from October but notably above a year ago when it was 9 percent.

Contract failures are cancellations caused by declined mortgage applications, failures in loan underwriting from appraised values coming in below the negotiated price, or other problems including lower conforming mortgage loan limits, home inspections, and employment losses.

Also released today are benchmark revisions to historic existing-home sales. The 2010 benchmark shows there were 4,190,000 existing-home sales last year, a 14.6 percent revision from the previously projected 4,908,000 sales. For the total period of 2007 through 2010, sales and inventory were downwardly revised by 14.3 percent. The revisions are expected to have a minor impact on future revisions to gross domestic product.

“From a consumer’s perspective, only the local market information matters and there are no changes to local multiple listing service (MLS) data or local supply-and-demand balance, or to local home prices,” Yun explained.

A divergence developed over time between sales reported by MLSs and sales determined by a U.S. Census benchmark; the variance began in 2007. Reasons include growth in MLS coverage areas from which sales data is collected, and geographic population shifts. “It appears that about half of the revisions result solely from a decline in for-sale-by-owners (FSBOs), with more sellers turning to Realtors® to market their homes when the market softened. The FSBO market was overwhelmed during the housing downturn,and since most FSBOs are not reported in MLSs, national estimates of existing-home sales began to diverge based on previous assumptions,” Yun said.

NAR consumer survey data in 2000 showed FSBOs accounted for a 16 percent market share, which fell to a record low 9 percent in 2010.

“In essence, Realtors® began to capture a greater market share. In addition to a decline in FSBO transactions, more builders began marketing new properties through real estate brokers that weren’t completely filtered from the existing-home data,” Yun said. “Some property listings on more than one MLS, and issues related to house flipping, also contributed to the downward revisions.” The new independent benchmark was discussed with government agencies and outside housing market experts, and will allow for annual revisions in the future.

Total housing inventory at the end of November fell 5.8 percent to 2.58 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 7.0-month supply at the current sales pace, down from a 7.7-month supply in October. “Since setting a record of 4.04 million in July 2007, inventories have trended down and supplies are moving close to price stabilization levels,” Yun said.

The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $164,200 in November, down 3.5 percent from a year ago. Distressed homes – foreclosures and short sales typically sold at deep discounts – accounted for 29 percent of sales in November (19 percent were foreclosures and 10 percent were short sales), compared with 28 percent in October and 33 percent in November 2010.

All-cash sales accounted for 28 percent of purchases in November; they were 29 percent in October and 31 percent in November 2010. Investors make up the bulk of cash transactions.

Investors purchased 19 percent of homes in November, little changed from 18 percent in October and 19 percent in November 2010. First-time buyers accounted for 35 percent of transactions in November, up from 34 percent in October and 32 percent in November 2010.

Single-family home sales rose 4.5 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 3.95 million in November from 3.78 million in October, and are 12.9 percent above the 3.50 million-unit level in November 2010. The median existing single-family home price was $164,100 in November, down 4.0 percent from a year ago.

Existing condominium and co-op sales were unchanged at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 470,000 in November and are 6.8 percent higher than the 440,000-unit pace one year ago. The median existing condo price was $164,600 in November, which is 0.2 percent below November 2010.

Regionally, existing-home sales in the Northeast jumped 9.8 percent to an annual pace of 560,000 in November and are 7.7 percent above a year ago. The median price in the Northeast was $240,200, which is 0.1 percent below November 2010.

Existing-home sales in the Midwest rose 4.3 percent in November to a level of 960,000 and are 15.7 percent higher than November 2010. The median price in the Midwest was $133,400, down 4.0 percent from a year ago.

In the South, existing-home sales increased 2.4 percent to an annual pace of 1.74 million in November and are 12.3 percent above a year ago. The median price in the South was $143,300, which is 2.1 percent below November 2010.

Existing-home sales in the West rose 3.6 percent to an annual level of 1.16 million in November and are 11.5 percent higher than November 2010. The median price in the West was $195,300, down 8.4 percent below a year ago.

Source: National Association of Realtors®; Daily Real Estate News (122111); Blog distribution provided by Kenneth Bargers and Bargers Solutions, a proud member of Pilkerton Realtors, residential real estate services located in Nashville, Tennessee

New-Home Construction Bounces Back, Soars 9.3%

New-home construction and building permits — a future gauge of construction — surged last month, slowly helping to pull the new-home market out of one of its worst years for home building.

Builders broke ground on more homes in November, a 9.3 percent increase over October, reaching the highest level since April 2010, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday. Year-over-year, new-home starts were up 24.3 percent in November.

Home construction increased to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 685,000 homes in November. However, while it’s an improvement, the rate is still below the 1.2 million home pace that economists consider healthy for the new-home sector.

November’s increase was mostly driven by construction of multi-family homes with at least two units, which soared 25.3 percent in November. Construction of single-family homes increased 2.3 percent for the month.

Building permits jumped 5.7 percent in November, the highest increase since March 2010, with the increase mostly driven by apartment construction permits.

Builders Feeling More Confident

Meanwhile, for the third consecutive month, builder confidence in the new-home market continued to edge up, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index for December. The index is at its highest point since May 2010.

While the index reached 21 in December, it is still far below 50, a reading which indicates more builders view conditions as good rather than poor. The index hasn’t reached that point since the housing boom in April 2006.

“While builder confidence remains low, the consistent gains registered over the past several months are an indication that pockets of recovery are slowly starting to emerge in scattered housing markets,” Bob Nielsen, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders, said in a statement. “However, the difficulties that both builders and buyers continue to experience in accessing credit for new homes are holding back potential sales even in areas where economic conditions are improving.”

Source: Daily Real Estate News; “Apartment Construction Spurs 9.3% Jump in Housing Starts, But Level Remains Low,” Associated Press (Dec. 20, 2011); “U.S. Nov. Housing Starts +9.3% to 685K; Consensus +0.3%,” Dow Jones International News (Dec. 20, 2011); and National Association of Home Builders; Blog distribution provided by Kenneth Bargers and Bargers Solutions, a proud member of Pilkerton Realtors, residential real estate services located in Nashville, Tennessee

Greater Nashville Home Sales Increase for 5th Consecutive Month per GNAR Press Release

GREATER NASHVILLE HOME SALES INCREASE FOR 5th CONSECUTIVE MONTH PER GNAR

GNAR PRESS RELEASE: Nashville, TN (Dec. 8, 2011) – There were 1,592 home closings reported for the month of November, according to figures provided by the Greater Nashville Association of REALTORS®. This figure is up 20 percent from the 1,326 closings reported for the same period last year.

Year-to-date closings through November are 18,851, almost a 1 percent increase from 2010 when 18,750 closings were reported through November.

“Home sales trends in November include a double-digit increase the number of closings and stable or increasing prices for both single-family homes and condominiums. These signs are welcome as we near the end of the year and begin to look towards 2012,” said GNAR President Alice Walker. “Based on current data, Greater Nashville is on track to have more than 20,000 closings this year, which is a very important benchmark under current market conditions.”

“As we get further away from the impact of the first-time homebuyer tax credit, comparisons become more realistic. What we’ve seen the second half of this year, including an actual increase in closings year-to-date, should be encouraging for buyers, sellers and real estate professionals alike.”

There were 1,657 sales pending at the end of the month, compared with 1,623 pending sales at this time last year. The average number of days on the market for a single-family home was 94 days.

The median residential price for a single-family home during November was $167,500, and for a condominium it was $158,690. This compares with last year’s median residential and condominium prices of $165,000 and $137,500, respectively.

Inventory at the end of November was 19,292, down from 21,932 in November 2010.

“Inventory is down, which is common for this time of the year. It is currently under 20,000 units. Inventory has been under 20,000 units one time since early 2007, and that was December of 2010. For single-family residential units, there is only about a nine month supply based on current sales levels,” added Walker. “December is not a time for high real estate traffic, but those who are looking tend to be very serious. Making the choice to look for a home when there are so many other ways to spend time during the Holidays means that the buyers are serious. If your home is on the market, talk with your Realtor about how it should be prepared, presentable and protected for showings.”

The Greater Nashville Association of 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.

Source: Greater Nashville Association of REALTORS®; Blog distribution provided by Kenneth Bargers and Bargers Solutions, a proud member of Pilkerton Realtors, residential real estate services located in Nashville, Tennessee

Market Comment for Week of November 28, 2011…

MARKET COMMENT Mortgage bond prices ended slightly lower last week, which pushed mortgage interest rates higher. Weak stocks and continued Euro debt concerns helped rates improve early in the week. The data generally helped rates as well. Q3 GDP disappointed with 2% increase compared to the expected 2.5% mark. The Treasury auctions had strong demand and also helped the overall bond market. The shortened and thin trading conditions fortunately did not result in any extreme whipsaw trading that is often common. Mortgage bonds ended the week worse by approximately 1/8 of a discount point.

Look for the employment report to gain the most attention this week.

LOOKING AHEAD

• New Home Sales; Nov. 28; Consensus Estimate 295k; Important. An indication of economic strength and credit demand. Weakness may lead to lower rates.
• Consumer Confidence; Nov. 29; Consensus Estimate 39; Important. An indication of consumers’ willingness to spend. Weakness may lead to lower mortgage rates.
• ADP Employment; Nov. 30; Consensus Estimate 105k; Important. An indication of employment. Weakness may bring lower rates.
• Revised Q3 Productivity; Nov. 30; Consensus Estimate Up 2.9%; Important. A measure of output per hour. Improvement may lead to lower mortgage rates.
• Fed “Beige Book”; Nov. 30; Important. This Fed report details current economic conditions across the US. Signs of weakness may lead to lower rates.
• Weekly Jobless Claims; Dec. 1; Consensus Estimate 385k; Important. An indication of employment. Higher claims may result in lower rates.
• ISM Index; Dec. 1; Consensus Estimate 50.7; Important. A measure of manufacturer sentiment. Weakness may lead to lower mortgage rates.
• Construction Spending; Dec. 1; Consensus Estimate Up 0.2%; Low importance. An indication of economic strength. Significant weakness may lead to lower rates.
• Employment Friday; Dec. 2; Consensus Estimate 9%, Payrolls +101k; Very important. An increase in unemployment or weakness in payrolls may bring lower rates.

WHY DATA IS IMPORTANT One of the easiest and most important things to do when making a decision whether to float or lock a loan is knowing what data is going to be released. Economic releases are important because they provide a snapshot of a portion of the economy. Data is even more important in that it is often the cause of market volatility. Upcoming data events are readily available and there is no excuse not knowing what data will be released in the week ahead.

While an in depth understanding of an economic event can help a person make informed decisions, it is more important to have a rudimentary understanding of when an important piece of data will be released and what basic effect that data can have on the market. Understanding the nuances of a release does very little for a person if they are blindsided by not knowing when the release will occur. Accurately predicting how each and every release will come in is impossible.

Floating into important economic data can be very risky and can expose a person to huge market swings. Keep that in mind this week, as there is an abundance of significant data heading our way.

Source: F&M Mortgage, Todd Kabel; MMIS, Rate Link; Blog distribution provided by Kenneth Bargers and Bargers Solutions, a proud member of Pilkerton Realtors, residential real estate services located in Nashville,Tennessee

Market Comment for Week of November 21, 2011…

MARKET COMMENT Mortgage bond prices ended lower last week, which pushed mortgage interest rates slightly higher. The producer price index and core rate both came in lower than expected and helped rates improve earlier in the week. Unfortunately, retail sales beat expectations which countered the PPI data. Poor auctions in France and Spain fanned the Euro debt concerns which helped rates a bit. However, housing starts showed a surprise increase and weekly jobless claims were lower than expected Thursday which didn’t help rates. Positive stocks Friday morning also made it tough for rates to push lower. Mortgage interest rates rose by approximately 1/8 of a discount point for the week.

LOOKING AHEAD

• 2-year Treasury Note Auction; Nov. 21; Important. Notes will be auctioned. Strong demand may lead to lower mortgage rates.
• Q3 GDP Second Estimate; Nov. 22; Consensus Estimate Up 2.5%; Very important. The aggregate measure of US economic production. Weakness may lead to lower rates.
• Fed Minutes; Nov. 22; Important. Details of the last Fed meeting will be thoroughly analyzed.
• 5-year Treasury Note Auction; Nov. 22; Important. Notes will be auctioned. Strong demand may lead to lower mortgage rates.
• Weekly Jobless Claims; Nov. 23; Consensus Estimate 390k; Important. An indication of employment. Higher claims may result in lower rates.
• Personal Income and Outlays; Nov. 23; Consensus Estimate Up 0.1%, Up 0.3%; Important. A measure of consumers’ ability to spend. Weakness may lead to lower mortgage rates.
• PCE Core Inflation; Nov. 23; Consensus Estimate Up 0.1%; Important. A measure of price increases for all domestic personal consumption. Weaker figure may help rates improve.
• Durable Goods Orders; Nov. 23; Consensus Estimate Down 0.2%; Important. An indication of the demand for “big ticket” items. Weakness may lead to lower rates.
• U of Michigan Consumer Sentiment; Nov. 23; Consensus Estimate 63; Important. An indication of consumers’ willingness to spend. Weakness may lead to lower mortgage rates.
• 7-year Treasury Note Auction; Nov. 23; Important. Notes will be auctioned. Strong demand may lead to lower mortgage rates.

QUALITY Investors are constantly searching for opportunities that will provide the greatest return with the least amount of acceptable risk. Investment products inherently all possess some sort of risk. As foreign financial markets struggled recently, many market participants withdrew their funds and searched for a safe haven in the US financial markets. With the backing of the US Government, investors viewed the US Treasury and mortgage bond markets as less risky investment opportunities amid global economic uncertainty. This resulted in an increased demand for US investments, such as the mortgage-backed securities that affect mortgage interest rates. Increased demand for mortgage bonds drove the prices higher and interest rates lower. Whether or not the trend will continue is still debated. A cautious approach to lock decisions is wise to take advantage of mortgage interest rates at these historically favorable levels.

Source: F&M Mortgage, Todd Kabel; MMIS, Rate Link; Blog distribution provided by Kenneth Bargers and Bargers Solutions, a proud member of Pilkerton Realtors, residential real estate services located in Nashville, Tennessee

Market Comment for Week of November 14, 2011…

MARKET COMMENT Mortgage bond prices ended lower last week, which pushed mortgage interest rates slightly higher. The early portion of the week was relatively tame compared to recent trading conditions. Most of the weakness came Thursday following stronger than expected weekly employment figures. Weekly jobless claims came in at 390k, better than the expected 400k mark and generally not bond friendly. Continuing claims came in at 3,615k, which also beat estimates. The reaction was negative and sent rates slightly higher ahead of the extended holiday weekend. Positive stocks also pressured rates at times throughout the week. Mortgage interest rates rose by approximately 1/4 of a discount point for the week.

LOOKING AHEAD

• Producer Price Index; Nov. 15; Consensus Estimate Up 0.4%, Core up 0.2%; Important. An indication of inflationary pressures at the producer level. Weaker figures may lead to lower rates.
• Retail Sales; Nov. 15; Consensus Estimate Up 1.4%; Important. A measure of consumer demand. A smaller than expected increase may lead to lower mortgage rates.
• Business Inventories; Nov. 15; Consensus Estimate Up 0.2%; Low importance. An indication of stored-up capacity. A significantly larger increase may lead to lower rates.
• Consumer Price Index; Nov. 16; Consensus Estimate Up 0.3%, Core up 0.1%; Important. A measure of inflation at the consumer level. Weaker figures may lead to lower rates.
• Industrial Production; Nov. 16; Consensus Estimate Up 0.2%; Important. A measure of manufacturing sector strength. A lower than expected increase may lead to lower rates.
• Capacity Utilization; Nov. 16; Consensus Estimate 77.2%; Important. A figure above 85% is viewed as inflationary. Weaker figure may lead to lower rates.
• Weekly Jobless Claims; Nov. 17; Consensus Estimate 387k; Important. An indication of employment. Higher claims may result in lower rates.
• Housing Starts; Nov. 17; Consensus Estimate 610k; Important. A measure of housing sector strength. Weakness may lead to lower rates.
• Philadelphia Fed Survey; Nov. 17; Consensus Estimate 6.8; Moderately important. A survey of business conditions in the Northeast. Weakness may lead to lower rates.
• Leading Economic Indicators; Nov. 18; Consensus Estimate Up 0.2%; Important. An indication of future economic activity. A smaller increase may lead to lower rates.

BUSINESS INVENTORIES The report on business inventories basically gives a broader look at the durable goods, factory orders, and retail sales reports. Not only is this report an important part of the investment component of the GDP, but it also provides additional evidence about the economy in the upcoming months. Changes in business inventories slow as the economy approaches a peak, and rise as the economy approaches the trough of a recession. Therefore the change in business inventories is a leading indicator of GDP. The data for this report, which are published by the Department of Commerce’s Census Bureau, comes from a monthly survey of inventories, orders, and manufacturers’ shipments, in addition to the merchant wholesalers and retail trade surveys.

In this environment every piece of data has the potential to cause some volatility.

Source: F&M Mortgage, Todd Kabel; MMIS, Rate Link; Blog distribution provided by Kenneth Bargers and Bargers Solutions, a proud member of Pilkerton Realtors, residential real estate services located in Nashville, Tennessee