U.S. builders started work on homes in December at the fastest pace since the summer of 2008 and finished 2012 as their best year for residential construction since the early stages of the housing crisis.
The Commerce Department said Thursday that builders broke ground on houses and apartments at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 954,000. That’s 12.1 percent higher than November’s annual rate and nearly double the recession low reached in April 2009.
For the year, builders started work on 780,000 homes. That’s still roughly half of the annual number of starts consistent with healthier markets. But it is an increase of 28.1 percent from 2011. And it is the most since 2008 – shortly after the housing market began to collapse in late 2006 and 2007.
Steady job gains, record-low mortgage rates and a tight supply of new and previously occupied homes available for sale have helped boost sales and prices in most markets. That has made builders more confident.
“The strong rise in single-family starts is a clear indication of builder confidence in the sales outlook,” said Pierre Ellis, an economist at Decision Economics, in a note to clients.
In December, the pace of single-family home construction, which makes up two-thirds of the market, increased 8 percent. It is now 75 percent higher than the recession low reached in March 2009.
Apartment construction, which is more volatile, surged 23 percent last month.
Applications for building permits, a sign of future construction, inched up to a rate of 903,000 – a 4 1/2-year high.
Confidence among homebuilders held steady in January at the highest level in nearly seven years. But builders are feeling slightly less optimistic about their prospects for sales over the next six months, according to a survey released Wednesday.
In November, sales of previously occupied homes rose to their highest level in three years, while new-home sales reached a 2 1/2-year high.
Those factors have helped make homebuilders more confident and spurred new home construction. But homebuilders’ are still warily watching the current standoff in Washington between President Barack Obama and Congress over several approaching budget deadlines, including the need to boost the nation’s $16.4 trillion borrowing limit.
Though new homes represent less than 20 percent of the housing sales market, they have an outsize impact on the economy. Each home built creates an average of three jobs for a year and generates about $90,000 in tax revenue, according to data from the homebuilders association.
Copyright © 2013 The Associated Press, Martin Crutsinger, AP economics writer. All rights reserve
The Federal Reserve announced Thursday that, in an effort to re-ignite
economic recovery, it was taking aim at mortgage rates — a move that will likely
take rates even lower from their current record lows.
The Federal Reserve announced it will purchase $40 billion of mortgage-backed
securities that will help boost the recovery in the housing market. What’s more,
the central bank said that it will continue with the purchase program until the
economy shows greater improvement, particularly with unemployment.
"These actions, which together will increase the Committee’s holdings of
longer-term securities by about $85 billion each month through the end of the
year, should put downward pressure on longer-term interest rates, support
mortgage markets, and help to make broader financial conditions more
accommodative," according to the Fed in a public statement.
The Fed says the economy still has a long way to go toward recovery. The Fed
predicts the jobless rate will stay above 7 percent well into 2014 and that
economic growth will remain slow in the coming months.
At its Thursday meeting, the Fed left its funds rate unchanged at near-zero,
but announced the rate — which has a bearing on mortgages — would remain at
"exceptionally low levels" until at least mid-2015.
As mortgage rates sink lower, home shoppers have been taking advantage. The
Mortgage Bankers Association announced this week that mortgage applications for
home purchases were up 8.1 percent for the week ending Sept. 7. Mortgage
applications for purchases also were up 7 percent from year-ago levels, MBA
"While low interest rates impose some costs, Americans will ultimately
benefit most from the healthy and growing economy that low interest rates
promote," Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said Thursday following the Fed committee’s
SHORTAGE OF LOW END PRICED HOMES...
– Aug. 10, 2012 – Median existing single-family home prices are rising in more metropolitan areas, but a lack of inventory – notably in lower price ranges – is limiting buyer choices in an increasing number of markets around the country, according to the latest quarterly report by the National Association of Realtors® (NAR).
The median existing single-family home price rose in 110 out of 147 metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) based on closings in the second quarter compared to the same quarter in 2011.
“It’s most encouraging to see a growing number of metro areas with rising median prices, which is improving the equity position of existing homeowners,” says Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. “Inventory has
been trending down and home builders are still under-producing in relation to growing demand.”
Yun says some of the increase can be attributed to a lack of lower-end homes for sale in areas with a tight inventory.
The national median existing single-family home price was $181,500 in the second quarter, up 7.3 percent from $169,100 in the second quarter of 2011 – the strongest year-over-year increase since the first quarter of 2006 when the median price rose 9.4 percent.
Distressed homes – foreclosures and short sales sold at deep discounts – accounted for 26 percent of second quarter sales, down from 33 percent a year ago.
Total existing-home sales, including single-family and condo, were up 8.6 percent above the 4.18 million pace during the second quarter of 2011.
At the end of the second quarter, there were 2.39 million existing homes available for sale, putting the for-sale inventory 24.4 percent below the end of the second quarter of 2011 when 3.16 million homes were on the market. There has been a steady downtrend since inventories set a record of 4.04 million in the summer of 2007.
According to Freddie Mac, the national commitment rate on a 30-year conventional fixed-rate mortgage
averaged a record low 3.80 percent in the second quarter, down from 3.92 percent in the first quarter and 4.66 percent in the second quarter of 2011.
With gains apparent in all of the price measures, banks also should have more confidence in expanding mortgage credit to home buyers using safe but sensible standards.”
A breakout of incomes needed to purchase a median-priced existing single-family home by metro area shows the typical buyer has ample income. Required income amounts are determined using several downpayment
percentages, assuming a mortgage interest rate of 4 percent and 25 percent of gross income devoted to mortgage principal and interest.
The national median family income was $61,000 in the second quarter. However, to purchase a
home at the national median price, a buyer making a 5 percent downpayment would only need an income of $39,900. With a 10 percent downpayment the required income is $37,800, while with 20 percent down the necessary income is $33,600.
“Because the income required to buy to a typical home is very manageable by historical standards, any further decline in mortgage interest rates will have little effect. Changes in underwriting guidelines would have a
far greater impact,” Yun says.
First-time buyers purchased 34 percent of all homes in the second quarter, compared with 33 percent in the first quarter and 35 percent in the second quarter of 2011. Historically, they are close to 40 percent of the market.
The share of all-cash home purchases was 29 percent in the second quarter, down from 32 percent in the first quarter, and 30 percent in the second quarter of 2011. Investors, who make up the bulk of cash purchasers and compete with first-time buyers, accounted for 19 percent of all transactions in the second quarter, down from 22 percent in the first quarter; they were 19 percent a year ago.
Existing-home sales in the South increased 1.3 percent in the second quarter and are 7.7 percent above the second
quarter of 2011. The regional median existing single-family home price increased 7.4 percent to $163,200 in the second quarter from a year earlier.
2012 Florida Realtors®See
– July 19, 2012 – Florida’s housing market had increased
pending sales, more closed sales, higher median prices and a reduced inventory
of homes for sale in June, according to the latest housing data released by
“Florida’s housing recovery continues its positive momentum,” said 2012 Florida Realtors President Summer Greene. “All of the signs point to solid gains, which is good news for the state’s economy. In
June, pending sales were up 31 percent for existing single-family homes and nearly 23 percent for townhouse-condo units compared to a year ago. The trend shows that many buyers are ready to purchase their Florida dream home, but a lack of financing options and overly restrictive credit standards remain obstacles.”
Pending sales refer to contracts that are signed but not yet completed or closed; closed sales typically occur 30 to 90 days after sales contracts are written.
Statewide closed sales of existing single-family homes totaled 18,800 in June, up 5.3 percent compared to the year-ago figure The statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes last month was $151,000, up 8.2 percent from June 2011.
According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the national median sales price for existing single-family homes in May 2012 was $182,900, up 7.7 percent from the previous year. The median is the midpoint; half the homes sold for more, half for less. Housing industry analysts note that sales of foreclosures and other distressed properties continue to downwardly distort the median price because they generally sell at a discount relative to traditional homes.
Looking at Florida’s year-to-year comparison for sales of townhomes/condos, a total of 9,202 units sold statewide
last month, up 1.5 percent from those sold in June 2011. The statewide median for townhome-condo properties was $110,000, up 15.8 percent over the previous year.
Last month, the inventory for single-family homes stood at a six-months’ supply; inventory for townhome-condo properties was at a 5.9-months’ supply, according to Florida Realtors.
“The trend we’ve seen established over the past year is continuing,” said Florida Realtors Chief Economist Dr.
John Tuccillo. “In June, every housing market indicator moved in the right direction. Closed sales are up, but so are pending sales, median prices, average prices and the ratio of sales price to list price. Conversely, listings are
down, days on market are down and – most important – inventories are down. We have now reached a six months’ supply of inventory for existing single-family homes and 5.9-months’ supply for townhouse-condos.”
Tuccillo added, “With an improving employment environment in Florida, we expect that the housing
market recovery will continue in the future.”
The interest rate for a
30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.68 percent in June 2012, significantly
lower than the 4.51 percent average during the same month a year earlier,
according to Freddie Mac.
To see the full statewide housing activity
report, go to Florida Realtors Media Center at http://media.floridarealtors.org/ and look under
Latest Releases, or download the June 2012 data report PDF under Market Data at:
2012 Florida Realtors®
Median List Prices Bounce Back
Daily Real Estate News | Thursday, June
The median national list price of for-sale homes is inching upward,
increasing 3.17 percent last month compared to May 2011, according to newly
released data from May of 146 markets tracked by Realtor.com.
“Signs of recovery are evident in a growing number of markets that were once
the epicenter of the housing crisis,” Realtor.com reports. “For example, the
recovery process that began in Florida approximately one year ago has since
spread to Phoenix and most recently California.”
FIXED MORTGAGE RATES HIT RECORD LOWS AGAIN!!
Fixed mortgage rates again hit new record lows in Freddie Mac’s weekly survey. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage at 3.79 percent Continues to remain well below 4 percent, and 15-year fixed-rate mortgages are
also slightly down at 3.04 percent.
“The European debt crisis overshadowed improving economic indicators for the U.S. and allowed … fixed
mortgage rates to ease for another week,” said Frank Nothaft, vice president and chief economist, Freddie Mac. “For instance, industrial production rose 1.1 percent in April – the largest gain since December 2010 – and consumer sentiment in May rose to its highest reading since January 2008, according to the
University of Michigan.”
At 3.79 percent, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) is down from last week when it averaged 3.83 percent. Last year at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 4.61 percent. For the week ending May 17, 2012,
it had an average 0.7 point.
The 15-year FRM this week averaged 3.04 percent with an average 0.7 point, down from last week when it averaged 3.05 percent. A year ago, the 15-year FRM averaged 3.80 percent.
The five-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 2.83 percent
this week, with an average 0.6 point – an increase from last week when it averaged 2.81 percent. A year ago, the 5-year ARM averaged 3.48 percent. The one-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 2.78 percent this week with an average 0.5 point, up from last week when it averaged 2.73 percent. At this time last
year, the one-year ARM averaged 3.15 percent.
© 2012 Florida
A LISTING PRICE STRATEGY FOR ANY MARKET – May 7, 2012 – Real estate agents should never agree to a listing price based on what the seller hopes to net, or their fears about giving the home away, according to Dirk Zeller, CEO of Real Estate Champions. The listing price, Zeller says, should always be based on the CMA.
When dealing with “start high come down later” sellers should ask themselves whether they are more motivated to sell the property or to achieve a certain price – the latter of which makes the seller a market tester rather than a committed seller.
Seller should view the situation through the eyes of the buyer, who is not going to care about the amount of money the seller hopes to net. Real Estate Agents should even point out to the sellers that the amount a seller says he needs has nothing to do with a home’s actual market value.
Experts say that buyers will view pricing a home at actual market value as a good value, boosting traffic, showings and even business opportunities for the agent.
Source: Realty Times (04/12/12) Zeller, Dirk
March pending home sales rise, market recovering (April 26, 2012) – Pending home sales increased in March and are well above a year ago, another signal the housing market is recovering, according to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR).
The Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI), a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, rose 4.1 percent to 101.4 in March from an upwardly revised 97.4 in February, and it’s 12.8 percent above March 2011 when it was 89.9. The data reflects contracts but not closings.
The index is now at the highest level since April 2010 when it reached 111.3.
“First quarter sales closings were the highest first quarter sales in five years,” says Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. “The latest contract signing activity suggests the second quarter will be equally good. The housing market has clearly turned the corner. Rising sales are bringing down inventory and creating much more balanced conditions around the county, which means home prices will be rising in more areas as the year progresses.”
The PHSI in the Northeast slipped 0.8 percent to 78.2 in March but is 21.1 percent above March 2011. In the Midwest, the index declined 0.9 percent to 93.3 but is 16.9 percent higher than a year ago.
Pending home sales in the South rose 5.9 percent to an index of 114.1 in March and are 10.6 percent above March 2011. In the West, the index increased 8.7 percent in March to 108.0 and is 9.0 percent above a year ago.
© 2012 Florida Realtors®
NAR: Existing home sales decline in March: inventory down, prices
April 19, 2012 – Florida’s housing market had increased pending sales, higher median prices and a reduced inventory of homes for sale in March, according to Florida Realtors® latest housing data.
“With the continued steep decline of inventory, historically low interest rates and buyers no longer willing to wait on the sidelines, Florida’s real estate market continues on its road to recovery,” says 2012 Florida Realtors President Summer Greene, regional manager of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Florida 1st in
Fort Lauderdale. “The latest numbers show that pending sales are up almost 30 percent for single-family homes and almost 20 percent for townhomes and condos.”
Pending sales refer to contracts that are signed but not yet completed or closed; closed sales typically occur 30 to 90 days after sales contracts are written.
The statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes in March was $139,000, up 10.3 percent from the year-ago figure, according to data from Florida Realtors Industry Data and Analysis department, and vendor partner 10K Research and Marketing. The statewide median for townhome-condo properties was $105,000, up 20.8 percent over March 2011.
The median is the midpoint; half the homes sold for more, half for less. Housing industry analysts note that sales of
foreclosures and other distressed properties continue to downwardly distort the median price because they generally sell at a discount relative to traditional homes.
In March, there was a 5.9-month supply of single-family homes in inventory and a 6.0-month supply for townhomes/condos, according to Florida Realtors.
“The encouraging trends we’ve seen in the Florida housing market are continuing, with very strong pending sales and decreasing inventory,” said Florida Realtors Chief Economist Dr. John Tuccillo. “The large jump in
median sales prices for both single-family homes and condos is a sign that buyers are now looking at higher priced properties, while it’s becoming tougher to find properties at the lower end of the market.”
The interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.95 percent in March 2012, down from the
4.84 percent average during the same month a year earlier, according to Freddie Mac.
© 2012 Florida Realtors®