Kelli Grant Group

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices AZ

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.

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September 19, 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

Homebuilder Confidence Rises To 5-Year High

NAHB HMI 2010-2012Home builder confidence rises again.

For August 2012, the National Association of Homebuilders reports the monthly Housing Market Index at 37 — an increase of more than 100% from one year ago and the highest HMI value since February 2007.

The Housing Market Index is an indicator of homebuilder confidence and when it reads 50 or better, the HMI suggests favorable conditions for home builders. Readings below 50 suggest unfavorable conditions for builders.

Despite the recent rise in home builder attitudes, however, the Housing Market Index remains mired below 50 where it’s been since April 2006.

For new construction home buyers in Phoenix , the HMI may offer insight into the market for new homes through the end of this year. This is because the NAHB Housing Market Index is a composite survey, meant to gauge builder sentiment in three specific areas — current business, future business, and buyer activity.

When all three fronts are rising, it points to an improving market for sellers (i.e. home builders). Unfortunately, though, what’s good for sellers can be damaging to buyers. Builders are less willing to make concessions on price or product when markets are getting stronger.

In August, home builders saw strength across all three categories :

  • Current Single-Family Sales : 39 (+3 from July)
  • Projected Single-Family Sales : 44 (+1 from July)
  • Buyer Foot Traffic : 31 (+3 from July)

Especially noteworthy in the August HMI is that builders project more sales for the next six calendar months than they have projected at any time in the last 5 years. With mortgage rates at all-time lows and buyer foot traffic growing, it’s no wonder confidence is high.

When demand for homes is strong amid stagnant or falling supplies, home prices rise and that’s exactly what we’re seeing in many U.S. markets. It’s a good time to be a Arizona home buyer today, but market momentum appears to be shifting.

If you’re in the market for a newly-built home, therefore, the best “deal” may be the one you get today. Next year, your costs may be higher. 

August 16, 2012 Posted by | Housing Analysis | , , | Leave a comment

Home Affordability Sinks For The First Time In 12 Months

Home Affordability Index 2012 Q2Rising home prices are taking a toll on today’s home buyers. For the first time in 4 quarters — and despite falling mortgage rates — home affordability is sinking. 

Earlier this week, the National Association of Home Builders reported the Home Opportunity Index, a measure of home affordability, down to 73.8 for the second quarter of the year. This marks the metric’s first “down” quarter since the second quarter of 2011, and is its lowest reading since December 2010.

A home is considered “affordable” when its payments meet standard mortgage underwriting criteria for families earning the local median income. This definition is used for homes across all U.S. markets — including for homes in Phoenix.

73.8% of homes sold last quarter were affordable to households earning the national median income of $65,000. This is the 13th straight quarter dating back to 2009 that the index surpassed 70. Prior to 2009, the Home Opportunity Index had not crossed 70 even one time.

Like all real estate data, home affordability varied by locale.

In the Midwest, for example, affordability was highest. 7 of the top 10 most affordable markets nationwide were spread throughout the nation’s heartland. An Alaskan city took the top spot.

The top 5 most affordable cities for home buyers in Q2 2012 were:

  1. Fairbanks, AK (98.7%)
  2. Mansfield, OH (98.1%)
  3. Springfield, OH (95.9%)
  4. Carson City, NV (95.4%)
  5. Kokomo, IN (95.4%)

At #23, Ocala, Florida (91.7%) was the top-ranked South Region city last quarter.

By contrast, the Northeast Region and Southern California remained among the least affordable housing markets nationwide. Led by the New York-White Plains, NY-Wayne, NJ area, 9 of the 10 least affordable areas were in the Mid-Atlantic and California, and for the 17th consecutive quarter the New York metro area was ranked “Least Affordable”.

Just 29.4 percent of homes were affordable to households earning the area’s median income there, down from 31.5 percent three months ago.

The rankings for all 225 metro areas are available for download on the NAHB website.

August 15, 2012 Posted by | Housing Analysis | , , | Leave a comment

Improving Market Index Spans 32 States, District Of Columbia

Improving Market Index

80 U.S. metropolitan markets are showing “measurable and sustained growth” this month, according to the National Association of Homebuilders’ Improving Market Index.

It’s good news for the economy and good news for housing. 

The NAHB’s Improving Market Index is meant to identify U.S. markets in expansion. It’s a composite of the three distinct data sets which, as a group, present a more holistic view of a given city’s growth :

  1. From the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the IMI tracks employment figures
  2. From Freddie Mac, the IMI tracks home price data
  3. From the Census Bureau, the IMI tracks single-family building permits

The home builder trade group compiles this data and, in order for a given metropolitan area to earn the label “improving”, the area must meet two specific growth conditions.

First, in a given city, each of the above data sets must show growth or expansion in the current calendar month. If one of the three do not show growth, the city cannot qualify.

Second, in a given city, at least six months must have passed since the most recent trough of all of the above metrics.  It’s this second clause that can make the Improving Market Index meaningful.

By focusing on long-term growth trends within a city, the IMI ignores “blips” and seasonal irregularities. 

The August IMI shows 80 improving markets nationwide, a 4-city decrease from July 2012. 5 new cities were added to the index including Miami, Florida; Terre Haute, Indiana; and Lubbock, Texas. Nine cities fell off the list.

Overall, 32 states are represented in the IMI, and the District of Columbia, too.

For today’s Phoenix home buyers, the IMI doesn’t provide much actionable information. It doesn’t show home prices, for example, nor the current demand for homes. What it shows is the strength of local economies, though, and in many cases, as the economy heats up, so do home prices.

The complete Improving Markets Index is available for download at the NAHB website.

August 9, 2012 Posted by | Housing Analysis | , , | Leave a comment

Homebuilder Confidence Doubles In 12 Months

NAHB Housing Market IndexHomebuilder confidence is soaring.

For the second time in three months, the National Association of Homebuilders reports that the Housing Market Index made sizable gains. 

The Housing Market Index measures homebuilder confidence in the new construction market and is scored between 1-100. Readings above 50 indicate favorable conditions in the single-family new home market. Readings below 50 indicate poor conditions.

The Housing Market Index leaped to 35 in July, a 6-point improvement and the index’s biggest one-month gain since September 2002.

The HMI is now up 14 points this year and is more than double its value of one year ago.

The Housing Market Index itself is a composite of three separate survey questions sent to NAHB members monthly. The questions are basic :

  1. How are market conditions for the sale of new homes today?
  2. How are market conditions for the sale of new homes in 6 months?
  3. How is prospective buyer foot traffic?

For July 2012, home builders reported huge gains. Current home sales are up 6 points; sales expectations for the next six months are up 11 points; and buyer foot traffic is up 6 points.

All three survey answers made 5-year highs. Not since 2007 has sales volume and foot traffic been as strong, and over the next 6 months, builders expect a blow-out finish to the year.

It’s no surprise, either.

Low mortgage rates throughout Arizona have lowered monthly housing payments to levels below monthly rent for a comparable home. Plus, programs such as the FHA 3.5% downpayment program continue to help first-time buyers get in homes.

There is a downside to rising homebuilder confidence, however. When builders feel more comfortable about their business and the prospects for the future, they’re less likely to make sales concessions to to offer free upgrades. If you’re shopping for new construction, therefore, consider moving up your time frame.

Home affordability remains historically high today. It may not be so tomorrow.

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

84 U.S. Markets Improving In July

Improving Market Index July 2012

Where economic growth goes, housing growth often follows.

That’s why it’s good news for homeowners that 84 U.S. metropolitan areas are showing “measurable and sustained growth” this month, according to the National Association of Homebuilders’ Improving Market Index.

The Improving Market Index is a derivative report, based on the results of three separate data series which examine a city’s local economy.

The data series used in the IMI are :

  1. Employment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics
  2. Home price data from Freddie Mac
  3. One-unit building permits from the Census Bureau

The NAHB compiles this data monthly, assigning a given metropolitan area the label “improving” if the following two conditions are met. First, all three data series above must show growth or expansion in the current month.

Second, at least six months must have passed since any of the above that area’s most recent economic “bottom”.

Because of this second clause, the IMI is focused on long-term trends in city growth, singling out only those markets in which sustained economic growth is occurring. The six-month requirement causes “blips” of growth remain ignored, and uncounted. 

The July IMI showed 84 improving markets nationwide, a 4-city increase over June 2012. 11 new cities were added to the index including Jackson, Michigan; Springfield, Massachusetts; and, Houston, Texas. Seven cities fell off the list.

32 states are represented in this month’s IMI, and the District of Columbia, too.

For Arizona home buyers, there isn’t much actionable information in the Improving Market Index. We don’t see how many homes were sold in the month prior, for example. Nor do we see how quickly homes are selling in a particular ZIP code. But what the IMI can provide is a broad look at whether a local economy has found its footing. 

When economies are strong, it can create competition for homes which can drive up home sales prices. 

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

July 11, 2012 Posted by | Housing Analysis | , , | Leave a comment

Building Confidence Rises To 5-Year High

Homebuilder confidence since 2000

Home builders anticipate growth in the market for newly-built, single-family homes.  

For June 2012, the National Association of Homebuilders reports its monthly Housing Market Index at 29 — an increase of more than 100% from one year ago and the highest HMI value since May 2007.

When the Housing Market Index reads 50 or better, it’s meant to indicate favorable conditions for builders in the single-family, new-construction market. Readings below 50 suggest unfavorable conditions for builders.

The index has not been above 50 since April 2006. 

The NAHB Housing Market Index is not a “single survey” — it’s a composite. Three separate surveys are sent by the trade association to its members and roughly 400 builders respond. The NAHB’s survey questions query builders on their current single-family home sales volume; their projected single-family home sales volume for the next 6 months; and, their current levels of buyer “foot traffic”.

The results are then compiled into the NAHB Housing Market Index.

In June, home builders provided mixed replies :

  • Current Single-Family Sales : 32 (+2 from May)
  • Projected Single-Family Sales : 34 (Unchanged from May)
  • Buyer Foot Traffic : 23 (Unchanged from May)

Of particular interest to today’s new construction buyers is that builders are reporting higher levels of single-family sales, and expect their sales volume to increase over the next six months. This expectation is rooted in housing market momentum and low mortgage rates.

Never in recorded history have homes been as affordable as they are today and home buyers are taking notice. Foot traffic through builder models remains strong and is at its highest pace in more than 5 years. 

When demand for homes outweighs the supply of homes, home prices rise. If builder expectations are met, therefore, buyers in Scottsdale should expect new home prices to rise in 2012’s second half.

Planning to buy new construction this year or next? Consider moving up your time frame.

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

31 States Represented In June’s Improving Market Index

Improving Markets Index June 2012The number of U.S. housing markets showing “measurable and sustained growth” slipped by 20 in June, according to the National Association of Homebuilders.

The Improving Market Index is meant to identify housing markets in which economic growth is occurring as a whole — not just in the real estate space.

By using three separate, independently-collected data series, each tied to local economic conditions, the Improving Market Index takes a broader view of the housing market than other housing market indicators — the Case-Shiller Index, for example — which are often singularly tied to housing contracts.

The Improving Market Index tracks three distinct data series :

  1. From the Bureau of Labor Statistics : Employment statistics
  2. From Freddie Mac : Home price growth
  3. From the Census Bureau : Single-family housing growth

A given metropolitan area is categorized as “improving” by the National Association of Homebuilders if all three data series indicate growth at least six months after that area’s most recent economic trough.

In other words, the Improving Market Index looks past head-fakes of recovery, instead in search of long-term, sustainable growth.

This is one reason why its list of included cities is so fluid. It’s difficult for a metropolitan area to meet the Improving Market Index’s inclusion requirements month-after-month in a post-recession economy.

The Improving Market Index dropped to 80 in June, says the home builder trade group.

The list includes 28 new entrants, with forty-eight markets removed as compared to May. 31 states are represented nationwide.

For home buyers in Arizona , the Improving Markets Index is a non-actionable report but it does do a good job of highlighting the local nature of real estate. For example, Columbus, Indiana was added as an Improving Market in June. Yet, Indianapolis, Indiana — located just 46 miles away — was downgraded from the same list. 

Economies vary by locale.

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

June 14, 2012 Posted by | Housing Analysis | , , | Leave a comment

Home Affordability Reaches New High In Q1 2012

Home Affordability 2005-2012Falling mortgage rates and stagnant home prices are making a positive effect on home affordability nationwide. Never before in recorded history have so many homes been affordable to households earning a moderate annual income.

Last week, the National Association of Home Builders reported the Home Opportunity Index at 77.5 — its highest reading of all-time. The index indicates that more than 3 of every 4 homes sold last quarter were affordable to households earning the national median income of $65,000.

Last quarter marks the 12th straight quarter — dating back to 2009 — in which the index surpassed 70. Prior to this run, the index had never crossed 70 even once.

That said, like most real estate statistics, the Home Affordability Index has a national purview. National data is of little value to homeowners in specific cities such as Scottsdale , or in specific neighborhoods such as Sonoran Foothills.

Last quarter, home affordability varied by region.

In the Midwest, for example, affordability was highest. 7 of the top 10 most affordable markets nationwide were spread throughout Ohio, Michigan, Illinois and Indiana. The top two spots, however, went to an East Region town (Cumberland) and a Pacific Northwest Region city (Fairbanks, Alaska), respectively.

The top 5 most affordable cities for home buyers in Q1 2012 were:

  1. Cumberland, MD (99.0%)
  2. Fairbanks, AK (98.9%)
  3. Wheeling, WV (97.0%)
  4. Kokomo, IN (95.8%)
  5. Indianapolis, IN (95.8%)

At #17, the Lakeland/Winter Haven, Florida area was the top-ranked South Region city last quarter.

By contrast, the Northeast Region and Southern California ranked among the least affordable housing markets — again. Led by the New York-White Plains, NY-Wayne, NJ area, 8 of the 10 least affordable areas were in the Mid-Atlantic and California, and for the 16th consecutive quarter the New York metro area was ranked “Least Affordable”.

Just 31.5 percent of homes were affordable to households earning the area median income there, up from 25.2 percent six months ago.

The rankings for all 225 metro areas are available for download on the NAHB website.

May 22, 2012 Posted by | Housing Analysis | , , | Leave a comment