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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

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

Pending Home Sales Index Makes New High For 2012

Pending Home Sales Index

In July, the third time this year, the Pending Home Sales Index crossed its benchmark value of 100, moving to 101.7. 

A “pending home sale” is a home under contract to sell, but not yet sold. Data for the index is collected by the National Association of REALTORS® and published monthly.

The rise in July’s Pending Home Sales Index reading is important for two reasons — both of which highlight a U.S. housing market in recovery. Buyer and sellers in Phoenix and across the country would do well to pay attention.

First, the Pending Home Sales Index is at its highest point since April 2010, the last month of that year’s federal home buyer tax credit.

From this, we can infer that the rate at which homes are selling in Arizona and nationwide is approaching the same “stimulated” levels that the tax credit afforded two-plus years ago. The difference is that today there are no buyer tax incentives.

The Pending Home Sales Index readings have climbed steadily since the tax credit’s expiration, too :

  • July 2010 : 78.4 reading
  • July 2011 : 90.5 reading
  • July 2012 : 101.7 reading

Second, because the Pending Home Sales Index is a relative index; and, because it was assigned a value of 100 when it was launched by the real estate trade group in 2001, when the PHSI reads higher than 100, it tells us that homes are going under contract at a faster pace than they did during the index’s first year.

2001 was a strong year for the U.S. housing market. 2012 is on path to be a stronger one.

80% of homes go to closing within two months of contract so, based on the July 2012 Pending Home Sales Index, we should expect for the Existing Home Sales report to rise through the rest of summer and into fall. Home supplies may drop and home prices may rise.

The housing market has expanded slowly and steadily dating to October 2011. Based on last month’s PHSI, that momentum will continue. 

August 30, 2012 Posted by | Housing Analysis | , , | Leave a comment

Existing Home Sales Rise To 4.47 Million

Existing Home SalesHome resales climbed 2% last month as the housing market continues its measured, steady recovery.

According to the National Association of REALTORS®, Existing Home Sales rose to 4.47 million units in July on a seasonally-adjusted, annualized basis.

An “existing home” is a home that cannot be classified as new construction and, despite a reduction in the national homes inventory, the number of previously-occupied homes sold in July was higher by 10% as compared to one year ago.

The Existing Home Sales also reported the folliowing :

  • First-time buyers accounted for 34% of all purchasers, down from 34% in June
  • Real estate investors accounted for 16% of all purchasers, down from 19% in June
  • Cash buyers accounted for 27% of all purchasers, down from 29% in June

In addition, the real estate trafde group reports that distressed sales accounted for a smaller percentage of the overall home resale market in July. Just 24% of home resales were for homes in various forms of foreclosure or short sale.

This is down one percent from June, and five percent from July 2011.

It also marks the smallest percentage of homes sold in “distressed” status since the trade group began to track such data 4 years ago.

Lastly, nationwide, the supply of homes for sale dropped to 6.5 months. At the current pace of sales, therefore, the complete U.S. home resale inventory would be sold by the end of Q1 2013.

There are now 2.40 million homes for sale — a 24% reduction from July 2011.

For today’s Phoenix home buyers, the July Existing Home Sales report reinforces the notion that housing is in recovery and what the nation’s home builders have been saying since late-2011 — the next six months for housing will likely be strong. Growth may not be linear, but it figures to be consistent.

With home inventory low and mortgage rates the same, the home resale market looks ripe for good deals.

August 23, 2012 Posted by | Housing Analysis | , , | Leave a comment

Case-Shiller Index Shows Home Values Rising Nationwide

Case-Shiller Index May 2012

According to the S&P/Case-Shiller Index, home values rose 2.2% nationwide, with all 20 tracked markets making month-to-month improvement. On an annual basis, 17 of the 20 Case-Shiller Index markets improved.

Despite the positive report, however, our enthusiasm for the May Case-Shiller Index should be tempered. This is because the index’s methodology is less-than-ideal for today’s Scottsdale home buyer.

There are three main reasons why :

  1. The Case-Shiller Index tracks values for single-family homes only
  2. The Case-Shiller Index is distorted by distressed, discounted home sales 
  3. The Case-Shiller Index publishes on a 2-month lag

Perhaps even more important, though, is that the Case-Shiller Index ignores a basic tenet of the housing market — all real estate is local. It’s not possible for 20 cities to represent the U.S. housing market as a whole. Even more egregious is that the 20 markets tracked by the Case-Shiller Index don’t represent the country’s twenty most populated cities.

The Case-Shiller Index specifically excludes home sale data from Houston, Philadelphia, San Antonio and San Jose — four of the nation’s 10 most populated cities. Yet, the index does include data from cities such as Minneapolis, Minnesota and Tampa, Florida.

These two cities rank #48 and #55, respectively.

Furthermore, in its 20 tracked cities, the Case-Shiller Index still manages to fail as a reliable housing market barometer. This is because home values vary by zip code, by neighborhood, and by street, even. All 20 Case-Shiller Index cities showed gains in May, but there remains areas within each metropolitan area in which values outpaced the Case-Shiller Index findings, and areas in which values fell short.

The Case-Shiller Index provides broad, generalized housing market data and that works for an economist. For an active home buyer or seller, though, making smart real estate decisions requires having timely, relevant real estate data at-hand when it’s needed. 

For data like that, talk with a real estate agent.

August 1, 2012 Posted by | Housing Analysis | , , | Leave a comment

Pending Home Sales Index Falls Just Short Of 100

Pending Home Sales Index June 2012

Home sales appear headed for a mid-summer breather. 

One month after posting a multi-year high, the Pending Home Sales Index retreated to 99.3 in June — a strong reading in its own right.

A “pending home sale” is a home that is under contract to sell, but not yet sold. June’s value of 99.3 marks the 14th consecutive month during which the index showed year-to-year gains.

Last year in June, the index read 90.7.

For home buyers in Phoenix and nationwide, the 14-month winning streak is one worth noting — specifically because the Pending Home Sales Index is different from the other housing market data that tends to make headlines.

Unlike the FHFA’s Home Price Index, for example; or the monthly New Home Sales data which both report on how housing performed in the past, the National Association of REALTORS®’ Pending Home Sales Index looks at how housing will perform in the future.

With high correlation, the Pending Home Sales Index predicts how Existing Home Sales will perform two months hence. This is because 80% of homes under contract convert to “closed sales” within 60 days of going into contract, and many of the rest convert within Months 3 and 4.

In addition, June’s near-100 reading is significant.

The Pending Home Sales Index is normalized to 100, a value which corresponds to the average home contract activity in 2001, the index’s first year of existence. 2001 was an historically-strong year for the housing market which means that June’s market action was also strong.

For today’s home buyers, the Pending Home Sales Index implies that the current market is somewhat “soft” as compared to May, a scenario which lends itself to buyer-friendly negotiations. Plus, with mortgage rates at all-time lows, home affordability has never been higher.

It’s an opportune time to buy a home in Gainey Ranch. By next month, the market may look different.

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

Pending Home Sales Index Hits A 2-Year High

Pending Home Sales IndexHomes are going under contract at a quickening pace.

In May, for the second time in 3 months, the Pending Home Sales Index crossed the 100 barrier, stretching to 101.1. A “pending home sale” is a home under contract to sell, but not yet sold.

Statistically, the Pending Home Sales Index reading is significant for two reasons.

First, the index’s reading is at its highest since April 2010. From this, we infer that today’s pace of home buying in Arizona and nationwide is approaching the “stimulated” levels of two years ago — but without the federal stimulus.

This is a positive signal for the housing market.

Second, because the Pending Home Sales Index is a relative index; and, because it was assigned a value of 100 upon its inception in 2001, readings higher than 100 imply that the housing market is performing better than it did during the index’s first year.

2001 happened to be a strong year for housing. 2012, it seems, is shaping up to be a better one.

And, there’s another reason why the Pending Home Sales Index matters so much to buyer and sellers of Phoenix — the Pending Home Sales Index is among the few “forward-looking” housing market indicators.

Rather than report on how the housing market looked 30-60 days in the past, as the Case-Shiller Index does; or the Existing Home Sales report, the Pending Home Sales Index looks 30-60 days to the future.

80% of homes under contract sell within 2 months so, as the Pending Home Sales Index goes, so goes housing. Based on May’s data, therefore, we can assume that home sale figures will rise through the summer.

If you’re shopping for homes right now, consider going under contract while the market remains somewhat soft. Mortgage rates are low and so are home prices. It makes for good home-buying conditions.

July 3, 2012 Posted by | Housing Analysis | , , | Leave a comment

Existing Home Sales Slip 2% In May

Existing Home SalesHome resales slipped last month; a slight setback for the nation’s housing market’s recovery.

According to the National Association of REALTORS®, Existing Home Sales fell to 4.55 million units in May 2012 on a seasonally-adjusted annualized basis, representing a 2 percent drop from April.

An “existing home” is a home that’s been previously owned or occupied, and cannot be categorized as new construction.

Despite May’s retreat, however, as compared to last year at this time, Existing Home Sales by units are higher by 10 percent. In other words, like everything else in housing, the long-term statistical trend has been a positive one.

The housing market has seen its bottom and is finding balance.

Other data from the Existing Home Sales report includes :

  • First-time buyers accounted for 34% of all purchasers, down from 35% in April
  • Real estate investors accounted for 17% of all purchasers, down from 20% in April
  • Cash buyers accounted for 28% of all purchasers, down from 29% in April

In addition, distressed sales accounted for 25% of all sales in May, down from 28% in April.

“Distressed sales” include the sale of homes in various stages of foreclosure, and of short sales. This is the smallest percentage of homes sold in a “distressed” status since the real estate trade group began tracking the data in 2008. 

And, lastly, home supplies rose by 0.1 months to 6.6 months nationwide in May. This means that, at the current pace of sales, the complete U.S. home resale inventory would be sold out before the end of 2012.  A 6-month supply is widely believed to represent a market in balance between buyers and sellers.

There are now 2.49 million homes for sale — a 20% reduction from May 2011.

Home resales may have slipped last months but volume remains brisk nationwide. All-time low mortgage rates and high home affordability are keeping buyers in the market. Home prices are rising in many U.S. cities as the housing market continues its slow, steady recovery. 

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

Pending Home Sales Slip In May

Pending Home Sales IndexThe housing market took a breather in April.

After forging past its benchmark value of 100 in March, April’s Pending Home Sales Index dropped back to 95.5, its lowest reading of the year. The data suggests fewer home resales throughout Arizona and nationwide in the months ahead.

A “pending home” is a home under contract to sell, but not yet closed. The Pending Home Sales Index is tracked and published monthly by the National Association of REALTORS®.

As a housing market indicator, the Pending Home Sales Index is fundamentally different from other housing metrics which often make headline news.

Unlike the Existing Home Sales report, for example; or the New Home Sales report, the Pending Home Sales Index is purported to be predictor of future housing market performance. It measures the number of homes newly under contract in a given month and, because we know that 80% of homes under contract close within 60 days, the Pending Home Sales Index can foreshadow what’s next for housing.

Other housing market metrics report on events which have already occurred.

Based on April Pending Home Sales Index, therefore, buyers and sellers should expect to see a pull-back in closed home sales through May and June. However, like everything in real estate, home sales remain a local market.

Even by region, performance varied : 

  • Northeast Region : +0.9% from March 2012
  • Midwest Region : -0.3% from March 2012
  • South Region : -6.8% from March 2012
  • West Region : -12.0% from March 2012

Despite three regions posting losses, it’s worth noting that, on an annual basis, all four regions showed gains, led by the Midwest at 23 percent. 

If you’re shopping for homes right now, the Pending Home Sales Index suggests that the current market may be “soft”, a scenario which can create ideal home-buying conditions. With mortgage rates low, home affordability has never been higher.

May 31, 2012 Posted by | Housing Analysis | , , | Leave a comment

Existing Home Sales Climb 3.4 Percent In April

Existing Home Supply

Low mortgage rates are helping to make homes more affordable. It appears home buyers have taken notice.

According to the National Association of REALTORS®, Existing Home Sales rose 3.4% in April from the month prior, registering 4.62 million homes sold on a seasonally-adjusted, annualized basis.

An “existing home” is a home that’s been previously occupied. April’s sales volume represents a 10 percent jump from April of last year.

For buyers and sellers in Scottsdale , the April Existing Home Sales report supports the notion that the housing market may be improving; that the “bottom” occurred sometime in late-2011. Home values have been rising in many U.S. markets and home builders now report the highest levels of foot traffic through models since 2007.

Demand for U.S. housing is growing.

It also helps that home affordability is at an all-time high. Not in recorded history have this many homes for sale been affordable to buyers earning a moderate household income, on a percentage basis. Additionally, there is now a larger stock of homes from which buyers can choose.  

In April, the number of homes for sale nationwide jumped 9.5 percent to 2.54 million — the largest home resale inventory of the year.

At the current pace of sales, it would take 6.6 months for the complete home inventory to sell. Analysts consider a 6.0-month supply to be a market in balance. Anything less than a 6-month supply suggests a “buyer’s market”.

Home values peaked nationwide in April 2007. Since then, it’s been an uneven recovery. Some markets came back quickly, while others did not. On a neighborhood-by-neighborhood basis, even, there’s signifcant variance in how home values have fared.

In other words, although the April Existing Home Sales report indicates housing strength nationally, it’s the local data that matters most to today’s buyers and sellers. To get real-time real estate data for a particular street or area, talk with a local real estate agent.

May 23, 2012 Posted by | Housing Analysis | , , | Leave a comment