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Case-Shiller index Shows Home Values Rising Nationwide, Too

Case-Shiller Index annual change July 2012

There have been no shortage of “housing market” stories lately. After sinking through much of late-last decade, home values slowly stabilized into mid-2011. By October 2011, values appeared to have bottomed.

Today, nearly five-and-one-half years after the April 2007 housing market peak, home prices are finally showing their ability to rebound. Over the past 12 months, a bevy of housing market data highlights broad-based market growth.

For example, as compared to August 2011, Existing Home Sales are up 9.3 percent nationally; New Home Sales are up 27.7 percent nationally; and home inventories have slipped to multi-year lows in Phoenix and throughout the country.

Furthermore, multiple home value trackers show home prices rising both regionally and nationwide.

Last week, the government’s Federal Housing Finance Agency released its Home Price Index (HPI) — a metric which tracks how home values change between sequential property sales. HPI showed home values up 3.7% nationally.

Another home valuation tracker — the S&P Case-Shiller Index — has shown home values to be rising, too.

As compared to one year ago, the private-sector metric puts home prices higher by 1.2 percent via its 20-city composite. 20 cities remains a small subset of the broader U.S. population, but, in looking for a trend, it’s clear that the trend is a positive one.

Some of the Case-Shiller Index highlights from its most recent report :

  • All 20 tracked cities showed home price gains between June 2012 and July 2012
  • The previously hard-hit city of Phoenix now leads the nation with a 16.6% annual gain
  • Versus their respective lows, San Francisco and Detroit are up 20.4% and 19.7%

In addition, on a 12-month basis, only four cities are showing negative home value growth — Atlanta, Chicago, Las Vegas, and New York City.

The Case-Shiller Index is a national index, though, and specifically does not report on valuation changes in specific U.S. cities and their neighborhoods. For local real estate data, make sure to speak with a local real estate agent instead.

October 2, 2012 Posted by | Housing Analysis | , , | Leave a comment

Pending Home Sales Index Continues To Show Strength

Pending Home Sales Index 2009-2012

Nationwide, homes continue to sell briskly.

According to the National Association of REALTORS®, the Pending Home Sales Index read 99.2 for August — the fourth straight month in which the index hovered near its benchmark value of 100.

A “pending home” is a home that is under contract to sell, but has not yet closed. The index measures with fair accuracy the future strength of the U.S. housing market.

For today’s Phoenix home buyers, the August Pending Home Sales Index is relevant for several reasons.

First, the index remains near its highest point since April 2010, the last month of that year’s federal home buyer tax credit. This implies that the current housing market is performing nearly as well as the “stimulated” market of two years ago — except without the accompanying federal stimulus.

The housing market is standing on its own, in other words.

Second, the Pending Home Sales Index suggests that today’s housing market is among the strongest of the last decade. We can make this inference because the Pending Home Sales Index is a relative index, benchmarked to the value of “100” which represents the housing market as it behaved in 2001.

2001 was strong year in housing. With today’s Pending Home Sales Index remaining near 100, it tells us that 2012 is similarly strong.

And, third, the Pending Home Sales Index is relevant because it’s a forward-looking housing metric — one of the few that are regularly published. As compared to the Case-Shiller Index or Existing Home Sales report which both report on how housing fared in the past, the Pending Home Sales Index projects 30-60 days to the future.

Based on August data, therefore, we can expect for home sales volume to remain high as 2012 comes to a close.

If you’re currently shopping for a home, you’ve likely noticed a change in the market. Multiple-offer situations are more common and sellers are regaining negotiation leverage. The longer you wait to buy, therefore, the more you may pay for a home.

Read the complete Pending Home Sales Report on the NAR website

September 28, 2012 Posted by | Housing Analysis | , , | Leave a comment

New Home Supply Remains Firmly In “Seller’s Market” Territory

New Home Supply chartThe market for new construction homes remains strong nationwide.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of new homes sold slipped 0.3 percent in August 2012 to a seasonally-adjusted, annualized 373,000 units sold — just 1,000 units less than July 2012 and the second-highest reading since April 2010.

April 2010 was the last month of that year’s tax credit which granted home buyers up to $8,000 off of their federal tax bill.

As compared to one year ago, sales of new homes are higher by 28%.

Furthermore, during the same time frame, the median sale price of a new home moved higher by 17 percent. The rising prices, in part, are the result of a shrinking national new home inventory. 

When August ended, there were just 141,000 homes for sale nationwide — a 12% drop from the year prior. This suggests that home builders have stopped building without buyers; that some lessons were learned in last decade’s homebuilding frenzy.

At today’s pace of home sales, the entire stock of new homes nationwide would sell out in 4.5 months. As a comparison point, in January 2009, the new home supply reached 12.1 months.

With home supply below 6.0 months, analysts say, it signifies a “seller’s market” and home supplies have not been north of 6.0 months since October 2011. And, based on recent homebuilder confidence surveys, supply doesn’t appear headed back over 6.0 months anytime soon.

Builders in Arizona and nationwide report that prospective buyer foot traffic is at its highest point in 6 years. Low mortgage rates and affordable housing choices have held demand for new homes strong. Rising rents contribute, too.

For today’s home buyers of new construction, then, shrinking supply amid rising demand portends higher home prices into 2013 and beyond. If you’re a buyer of new construction, therefore, think about moving up your time frame. 

The best deals left in housing may be the ones you grab while the calendar still reads 2012. By January, low prices may be gone, and low rates may be, too.

September 27, 2012 Posted by | Housing Analysis | , , | Leave a comment

Home Price Index Shows Values Rising 3.7% From One Year Ago

Home Price Index from peak to presentTuesday, the Federal Home Finance Agency’s Home Price Index (HPI) showed home values rising 0.2% on a seasonally-adjusted basis between June and July 2012, and moving +3.7% on an annual basis.

Home values have not dropped month-to-month since January of this year — a span of 6 months.

For today’s home buyers and sellers throughout Phoenix , though, it’s important to recognize on what the HPI is actually reporting.

Or, stated differently, on what the HPI is not reporting. The Home Price Index is based on home price changes of some homes, of certain “types”, with specific mortgage financing only.

As such, it excludes a lot of home sales from its results which skews the final product. We don’t know if home values are really up 0.2% this month — we only know that’s true for the home that the HPI chooses to track.

As an example of how certain homes are excluded, because the HPI is published by the Federal Housing Finance Agency and because the FHFA gets its access to home price data from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, it’s upon data these two entities upon which the Home Price Index is built.

Home price data from the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), from local credit unions, and from all-cash sales, for example, are excluded from the HPI because the FHFA has no awareness that the transaction ever happened.

In 2006, this may not have been a big deal; the FHA insured just 4 percent of the housing market at the time. Today, however, the FHA is estimated to insure more than 20% of new home purchases. Furthermore, in August, more than 1 in 4 sales were made with cash.

None of these home sales were included in the HPI.

Furthermore, the Home Price Index excludes certain home types from its findings.

Home sales of condominiums, cooperatives, multi-unit homes and planned unit developments (PUD) are not used in the calculation of the HPI. In some cities, including Chicago and New York City, these property types represent a large percentage of the overall market. The HPI ignores them.

Like other home-value trackers, the Home Price Index can well highlight the housing market’s broader, national trends but for specific home price data about a specific home or a ZIP code, it’s better to talk with a real estate agent with local market knowledge.

Since peaking in April 2007, the Home Price Index is off 16.4 percent.

September 26, 2012 Posted by | Housing Analysis | , , | Leave a comment

Existing Home Sales Leap To 2-Year High

Existing Home Sales By Price Tier, August 2012

The home resale market put forth another strong data set last week. Home sales prices are higher nationwide and sales volume has moved to a 2-year high.

According to the National Association of REALTORS®, 4.82 million “existing homes” sold on a seasonally-adjusted, annualized basis in August, representing a near 8 percent improvement from the month prior and a nine percent jump from August 2011.

An existing home is a home which has been previously occupied.

Home sales were unevenly split across price tiers, with more than half of all homes selling for less than $250,000. This suggests that the first-time home buyers and real estate investors continue to be active in today’s market as a foundation for growth is built.

According to the Existing Home Sales data :

  • First-time buyers accounted for 31% of all home sales
  • Real estate investors accounted for 18% of all home sales
  • Other, repeat buyers accounted for 51% of all home sales

Also noteworthy is that “distressed homes” accounted for the smallest percentage of overall home sales since the real estate trade group starting tracking such data.

In August, homes in various stages of foreclosures accounted for 12% of all sales and sold at an average discount of 19 percent below market value. Short sale homes accounted for 10% of all sales and sold at an average discount of 13 percent below market value.

Of all the data in the August Existing Home Sales report, though, perhaps most relevant to today’s buyers is the shrinking national housing supply.

At August’s end, there were 2.47 million homes listed for sale nationwide, a three percent increase from the month prior. However, because the pool of available home buyers is increasing more rapidly than the number of homes for sale, housing supplies fell 0.3 months to 6.1 months.

This means that at the current pace of sales, the entire housing supply would be sold by March 2013.

For today’s home buyers, home affordability appears poised to worsen. Mortgage rates and home prices remain low today, but market conditions like these rarely last long. Talk to your real estate agent about what options you have ahead of you. 2012 is coming to a close.

By 2013, the housing recovery may be fully underway. 

September 25, 2012 Posted by | Housing Analysis | , , | Leave a comment

Housing Starts Move To 2-Year High

Housing Starts chartThe new construction housing market continues to make gains.

Wednesday, the U.S. Census Bureau reported Housing Starts for single-family homes up 5.5 percent in August to a seasonally-adjusted, annualized count of 535,000 units nationwide.

The report marks the fifth month of six that single-family starts increased, and marks the highest starts tally since April 2010 — the last month of that year’s federal homebuyer tax credit program.

A “housing start” is a new home on which construction has started and the steady growth in single-family starts suggests a stronger Arizona housing market into 2013.

All four U.S. regions showed single-family housing start growth on both a monthly basis and on an annual one :

  • Northeast Region : 4.5% monthly growth; 31.4% annual growth
  • Midwest Region : 15.6% monthly growth; 74.5% annual growth
  • South Region : 3.2% monthly growth; 17.2% annual growth
  • Midwest Region : 4.6% monthly growth; 23.9% annual growth

The data is just the latest in a series of signals that today’s Phoenix new construction housing market has put its worst days behind it.

The nation’s home builders appear to agree, as well.

Earlier this week, the National Association of Homebuilders released its Housing Market Index, a monthly metric which measures homebuilder confidence in the new construction market.

The homebuilder trade association put the HMI at 40 — a 6-year high. Builders expect a strong finish to 2012 and for momentum to carry into 2013 and beyond.

The new construction market — like most of housing — has been fueled by a combination of the lowest mortgage rates in history, ample access to low- and no-downpayment mortgages, and an ever-shrinking supply of new homes for sale.

In July there were just 142,000 new homes for sale nationwide, down 14% from the year prior. As supply shrinks, all things equal, new home prices rise.

If you’ve been considering new construction, therefore, talk to builders sooner rather than later. As demand for homes heats up, prices are likely to rise.

September 20, 2012 Posted by | Housing Analysis | , , | Leave a comment

Homebuilder Confidence Rises Again; Tops 40

HMI September 2010 - 2012Home builder confidence continues to make new highs. 

As reported by the National Association of Home Builders, the Housing Market Index, a measure of builder confidence, rose to a reading of 40 in September — its highest mark since June 2006.

The index is now higher through five straight months and 11 of the last 12.

For home buyers in Scottsdale , the survey may be signaling higher new home prices ahead; when builders are more confident in housing, they’re may be less likely to make concessions in price, and to “sweeten” deals with free upgrades and/or subsidized mortgage rates.

The Housing Market Index is published monthly, based on responses to a 3-question survey that the NAHB sends to its members. The questions cover three distinct parts of a builder’s business, each requiring a simple, one-word answer.

Builders are asked to respond with “Good”, “Fair” or “Poor”; or, “High”, “Average”, “Low” to the following three comments :

  • Rate market conditions for the sale of new homes today
  • Rate market conditions for the sale of new homes 6 months from today
  • Rate the foot traffic of prospective new home buyers

All three survey components showed an increase from August with buyer foot traffic rating at its highest point in more than 6 years. This is especially noteworthy because as the number of prospective buyers increases, so does competition for homes for sale.

There are currently just 142,000 new homes for sale nationwide, the stock of which will “sell out” in 4.6 months at the current pace of sales.

Not since October 2011 has the national home supply been above six months, the consensus dividing line between bull and bear market. Today’s new construction market favors builders and builders know it.

If you’re planning to buy new construction in Arizona later this year or into early-2013, consider moving up your time frame. Homes may be for sale, but they won’t likely be as inexpensive as they are today.

September 19, 2012 Posted by | Housing Analysis | , , | Leave a comment

Foreclosures Remain Concentrated In Just A Few States

Foreclosure concentration August 2012The national market for foreclosed homes remains strong.

According to foreclosure data firm RealtyTrac, foreclosure activity increased 1 percent in August as compared to the month prior, climbing to just above 193,500 units nationwide.

1 in every 681 U.S. households received some form of foreclosure filing last month where a “foreclosure filing” is any one of the following foreclosure-related events : A default notice on a home; a scheduled auction for a home; or, a bank repossession of a home.

Default notices climbed in August which indicates that more U.S. homeowners are falling behind on payments.

However, for the 22nd consecutive month, the number of bank repossessions fell. This suggests that lenders are reaching alternative outcomes to foreclosure more frequently, and with more success, reducing the number of homes for sale nationwide.

Fewer homes for sale is one reason why U.S. home prices have been rising.

Like everything in real estate, though, foreclosures are a local event. In August, just six states accounted for more than half of the country’s bank repossessions. Those six states — California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan and Arizona — account for less than 31% of the U.S. population.

Clearly, foreclosures remain concentrated. However, bank-owned homes can still make for “good deals” across all 50 states. This is because foreclosed homes are typically sold at steep discounts versus comparable, non-distressed homes.

Just be sure to do your foreclosure research first.

Buying a home in foreclosure is different from buying a home not in foreclosure. The contract and negotiation phases are different, and foreclosed homes are often sold as-is.

“As-is” is real estate-speak for “this home may be defective and/or uninhabitable”.

Therefore, if you plan to buy foreclosure, talk with a real estate professional first. You can learn a lot about a foreclosure by doing research online. However, when it comes time to write a contract, you’ll want to have an expert on your home-buying team.

September 18, 2012 Posted by | Housing Analysis | , , | Leave a comment

Improving Market Index Climbs To 99

Improving Market Index September 2009The number of U.S. housing markets showing “measurable and sustained growth” has increased by 19 this month, according to the National Association of Homebuilders’ Improving Market Index.

The Improving Market Index is a monthly report meant to identify U.S. markets in which economic growth is occurring broadly — not just in terms of home prices.

The IMI’s conclusions are based on three separately-collected data series, each from a different division of the U.S. government and each tied to specific local economic conditions.

In this way, the Improving Market Index gives a better idea of which markets will outperform averages in the months and years ahead.

The three data series incorporated into the Improving Market Index are :

  1. Employment Statistics (from the Bureau of Labor Statistics)
  2. Home Price Growth (from Freddie Mac)
  3. Single-Family Housing Growth (from the Census Bureau)

The National Association of Homebuilders evaluate the reports for each major metropolitan area and then deems a given one “improving” if two conditions are met. First, all three data series must indicate growth in the current month and, second, at least 6 months have passed since each of the data points’ respective “bottoms”.

The IMI ignore short-term spurts, in other words, and attempts to identify those areas showing long-term, sustainable growth. For relocating home buyers, “improving” cities may also offer better long-term employment and income opportunities. 

33 states are represented in the September Improving Market Index, as well as the District of Columbia. 31 new areas were added to the list as compared to August and just 12 dropped off.

The newly-added areas include Sacramento, California; Jacksonville, Florida; and Waco, Texas. Cities falling off the list for September include Dover, Delaware.

The complete Improving Markets Index is available for download at the NAHB website. For a better gauge of what’s happening in Phoenix on a local level, however, talk to a local real estate agent.

September 12, 2012 Posted by | Housing Analysis | , , | Leave a comment

Case-Shiller Index Shows Huge Home Price Gain

Case-Shiller Index June 2012

Home prices continue to rise nationwide. 

According to the Standard & Poor’s Case-Shiller Index, home prices rose 6.9% between the first and second quarter of 2012, the largest quarter-to-quarter gain since the home-value tracker’s 1987 inception and another signal that the housing market is in recovery.

The private-sector metric’s results are similar to what the government’s Home Price Index showed for June, too — values rising quickly. In addition, for the second straight month, each of the Case-Shiller Index’s 20 tracked markets showed month-to-month improvement.

June would have marked three straight months if not for Detroit’s value-setback in April.

The top performing markets in June, as tracked by the Case-Shiller Index were :

  1. Detroit, Michigan : 6.0 percent gain
  2. Minneapolis, Minnesota : 4.8 percent gain
  3. Chicago, Illinois : 4.6 percent gain

However, it should be noted that the Case-Shiller Index pulls from a limited sample set. It does not include condominiums or multi-unit homes in its findings, nor does it account for new construction. These exclusions make a material impact on the results of both Minneapolis and Chicago, as examples. Both cities feature a large concentration of condos.

Overall, though, the June data looks sound. Said a spokesman for the Case-Shiller Index, “The market may have finally turned around.”

Furthermore, home buyers in Fireside at Norterra and nationwide can corroborate what the Case-Shiller Index has uncovered. Falling home inventory and rising home demand have helped to move home prices higher in many U.S. markets.

Low mortgage rates make new homes affordable and rising rents are turning the Rent vs Buy equation on its head. In July, according to the National Association of REALTORS®, first-time home buyers accounted for 34% of all home resales.  This trend is expected to continue into 2013.

As compared to one year ago, today’s home buyers have 8% more purchasing power and, with rising home prices, they’re going to need it.

September 6, 2012 Posted by | Housing Analysis | , , | Leave a comment