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Browsing Posts tagged Existing Home Sales

Pending Home Sales (May 2009 - November 2010)The housing market continues to expand, and surprise.

According to the National Association of REALTORS®, November’s Pending Home Sales Index gained 3 percent from October. A “pending home sale” is a home under contract but not yet closed.

The index is now at its highest point since April 2010’s federal tax credit contract expiration deadline.

If the tax credit really did “borrow” sales from the summer months, as has been theorized, housing has rebuilt its foundation.

We know this because, of all the housing data available to  homeowners and home buyers, the Pending Home Sales Index stands apart as a forward-looking report — its designed purpose as described in its methodology.

Because 80% of all homes under contract close within 60 days, and a statistically significant share of the rest close within months 3 and 4, the Pending Home Sales Index is an excellent predictor of future Existing Home Sales data.

This is in contrast to the New Home Sales data and Case-Shiller Index, as examples, which both describe the real estate market as it existed two months in the past. The Pending Home Sales Index reports on housing as it exists right now. We should expect January’s Existing Home Sales report, therefore, to show marked strength, consistent with a housing market recovery.

The downside of the Pending Home Sales Index is that it’s a national report and real estate is not sold nationally — it’s sold locally. To get a feel for your home market and how it’s faring, talk to a licensed real estate agent with access to local home sale data.

If pending sales data is available, so much the better. Forward-looking figures can be more helpful than data that’s already old.

Existing Home Supply (Nov 2009 - Nov 2010)Existing Home Sales jumped another 6 percent in November, the report’s third month of improvement since bottoming in July.

According to the National Association of REALTORS®, a quarter-million more existing homes were sold during the annual period ending in November as compared to October.  An “existing home” is a home that cannot be considered new construction.

Additionally, the national housing supply dropped by a full month. At the current pace of existing home sales, the complete stock of homes for sale will be exhausted in 9.5 months.

November’s strong housing data is yet another signal to buyers that the housing market’s foundation has been rebuilt, and that a rebound is imminent.  It’s helped that there are great “deals” on which for buyers to pounce.

In November, short sales and foreclosures accounted for one-third of all existing homes sold, and carried an average price discount of 10 percent and 15 percent, respectively, as compared to non-distressed sales.

Repeat buyers continue to power the market, too, representing more than half of all home buyers.

  • First-time buyers : 32% of all buyers
  • Investors : 19% of all buyers
  • Repeat buyers : 51% of all buyers

This breakdown suggests that housing has regained its footing. First-time buyers can’t support a market long-term like repeat buyers can and, as compared to 12 months ago, the percentage of repeat buyers is now up 14 points.

Home buyers take note. Raw sales volume is rising and available inventory is dropping. Basic supply-and-demand tells us that this will lead home prices higher. Furthermore, mortgage rates are rising quickly, increasing the cost of homeownership.

If buying a home is a part of your plan for 2011, consider accelerating your purchase time frame. Existing homes account for more than 80% of homes sold nationwide. If the market keeps improving like this, your home affordability will worsen.

Existing Home Supply (Oct 2009-2010)After two months of surging sales, home resales fell by 100,000 units last month to 4.4 million homes nationwide.

October’s Existing Home Sales tally is slightly below the report’s 6-month rolling average, according to the National Association of REALTORS® — a time span which includes this year’s $8,000 federal home buyer tax credit’s tail end.

Housing statistics have been wildly inconsistent during that period.

For the future of housing markets, though, it’s encouraging that first-time and investment property buyers were both outnumbered by “move-up” buyers; buyers that have sold their respective homes in favor of larger ones. It’s the move-up buyers that power housing.

In October, buyer profiles broke down as follows:

  • First-time buyers : 32 percent of all buyers, unchanged from September
  • Repeat home buyers : 49 percent of all buyers, down one tick from September
  • Investors : 19 percent of all buyers, up one tick from September

As a point of comparison, first-timers represented 50 percent of all purchases in October 2009.

For home buyers, October’s Existing Home Sales report is neither weak nor strong. It signals that, with mortgage rates low and home affordability high, housing may be reaching some form of balance. Because — although home sales are down — home supplies are down, too.

We can infer that buyers outnumber sellers, but probably not by much. In most areas, negotiation leverage is still up for grabs.

At the current pace of sales, the complete housing stock would be depleted in 10.6 months.

Pending Home SalesAfter 3 straight months of improvement, the Pending Home Sales Index slid lower in September. As compared to August, September’s reading fell 2 percent.

A “pending home sale” is a home under contract to sell, but not yet closed. The data is drawn from a combination of local real estate associations and national brokers, and represents 20 percent of all purchase transactions in a given month.

Because of the large sample set, and because 80 percent of homes under contract close within 60 days, the Pending Home Sales Index is a terrific future indicator for the housing market. A high correlation exists between the Pending Home Sales Index and the NAR’s monthly Existing Home Sales report issued two months hence.

Expect home sales to idle into the New Year, therefore.

For home buyers in , this is good news. Over the last two months, housing markets have overwhelmingly favored home sellers.

Consider than, since June, the volume of both new home sales and existing home sales has increased, causing the available home inventory to fall by months. Meanwhile, helped by low interest rates, demand from buyers has remained relatively stable.

As with everything in economics, falling supply with constant demand leads to higher prices.

Therefore, the Pending Home Sales Index’s fading September figures suggest a more balanced supply-and-demand curve in the months ahead, a move that should suppress rising home prices and shift negotiation leverage back to the buy-side.

So long as mortgage rates remain rock bottom, the autumn season is looking like a terrific time to buy.

Existing Home Sales (Sept 2009-Sept 2010)Existing home sales jumped 10 percent in September, the biggest monthly jump on record and a signal that the housing market may be returning to a normal sales pattern post-$8,000 federal tax credit.

Existing Home Sales counts home resales (i.e. not new construction) and 80 percent of home resales close within 45-60 days. It’s no surprise, therefore, September’s data is strong.

Throughout the July and August, mortgage rates were in free-fall, pushing home affordability to near-record levels. Concurrently, the number of homes available for sale climbed to multi-year highs.

“Deals” were in ample supply this summer and eager home buyers snatched them up.

Some of these deals included “distressed properties”, a categorization that includes homes in various stages of foreclosure or short sale, accounted for 35 percent of all sales, an uptick of 1 percent from August.

According to the National Association of Realtors®, home resales split as follows:

  • First-time buyers : 32 percent of all buyers
  • Repeat home buyers : 50 percent of all buyers
  • Investors : 18 percent of all buyers

By contrast, in November 2009, first-timers accounted for more than half of all resales.

For home buyers, September’s Existing Home Sales report foreshadows a more competitive housing market through the New Year. In addition to rising sales volume, home supplies are down by nearly 2 months from July.

At the current pace of sales, the complete housing stock would be depleted in 10.7 months.

Existing Home Supply (August 2009 - Augsut 2010)Sales of existing homes in recovered in August, perhaps the result of a post-tax credit normalization.

As compared to July, Existing Home Sales rose 8 percent in August, buoyed by falling interest rates and slow-to-rise home prices. There’s lot of “good deals” out there and home buyers are taking advantage.

The housing gains are relative, however. August’s total units sold barely crossed 4 million and still trails the average figures of the last few years by close to 1 million units.

Despite that, the August Existing Home Sales report can be considered a strong one. This is for several reasons:

  1. Sales volume increased in August without tax credit or government intervention
  2. Sales growth is not limited by geography. All 4 regions — Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, and West — showed improvement last month.
  3. Repeat buyers are driving the market, representing 48 percent of sales, up from forty-three percent in July.

And, perhaps most important to the housing market market, the number of available home resales dropped by almost one full month last month.  At the current sales pace, the national inventory would be depleted in 11.6 months.

For home buyers, the data presents an interesting opportunity. With average mortgage rates rising from their best levels ever and home affordability cresting , this autumn may represent the turn-around point for the housing market nationwide.

This may mean that the soft market will start to firm up.  But we still have winter ahead, it costs a lot to heat an empty rehabbed house while you wait for a buyer.

Pending Home Sales January 2009-July 2010Just one week after reports of Existing Home Sales and New Home Sales plunging, the housing market is signaling that autumn may fare better than did summer.  Talk about a see-saw!  (for those of you under40, which is most of you, that was a child’s ride that went up and down.  It was powered by children pushing with their legs.  And don’t laugh.  I recently had to explain to an employee what a typewriter was and what carbon copy meant.   And if you don’t know either, then please don’t ask me.  I’ll just get depressed.)

The number of homes under contract to sell rose 5 percent in July.

The data comes from the July Pending Home Sales Index, as published by the National Association of Realtors®. By definition, a “pending home sales” is a home that is sold, but not yet closed.

Historically, 80% of such homes close within 60 days which makes the Pending Home Sales Index an excellent, forward-looking indicator for the real estate market.

Indeed, the nationwide drop in home sales this summer was foreshadowed by the Pending Home Sales report.  The index dropped 30 percent in May. Then, two months later in July, it was shown that Existing Home Sales volume dropped 29 percent.

That’s a strong correlation.

Now, to be fair, the July Pending Home Sales Index is still relatively low; the second-lowest on record and well below last year’s numbers. But, the tick higher last month shows how housing may be stronger than than what the headlines report.

It appears that buyers took advantage of rising inventory, cheap financing, and stagnant prices, and pushed the market forward. We should expect similarly promising numbers when September’s Existing Home Sales data is released.

New Home Supply July 2009 - July 2010What does this mean to you, the real estate investor?  Well, if you are a rehabber, it means your end buyer can buy a brand new home almost as inexpensively as that rehab that you just finished.  So you have to price accordingly.  To do that, you have to buy it right to start with.  Read on for more about New Home Sales….

One day after the National Association of Realtors released the softest Existing Home Sales report since 1995, the U.S. Census Bureau released a similarly-weak New Home Sales report.

Americans bought just 276,000 newly-built homes in July. That marks the fewest units sold since the government started keeping records in 1963.

In addition, although new home inventory actually dropped 2,000 units in July, the slowing sales pace still managed to push the national supply higher by 1.1 months.  At July’s rate of sales, the nation’s new home inventory would be exhausted in just about 9 months.

None of this news should surprise you, though. It’s all been foreshadowed for weeks.

First, Single-Family Housing Starts have dropped in every month since April.  A “housing start” is a when a home starts construction and, because fewer homes are under construction, we should expect fewer homes to be sold.

Second, Building Permits are down.  The number of new permits peaked in March and have fallen 23 percent since.

And, lastly, home builder confidence ranks at its lowest levels since early-2009. A contributing factor in that pessimism is dwindling buyer foot traffic.

Regardless, there’s two sides to the story. Although the New Home Sales data looks bad for builders, it can be terrific  for home buyers. This is because new homes are more likely to be discounted when the sales cycle favors buyers.

Coupled with ultra-low mortgage rates, the cost of buying a newly-built home may have just become cheaper.

Existing Home Sales July 2009 - July 2010The number of home resales plunged by 1.4 million units in July, according to the National Association of Realtors®’ Existing Home Sales report.

It’s a drop of 27 percent from June; single-family home resales are at the report’s lowest levels since May 1999.  That’s over 11 years ago.

For investors, it is a good news / bad news scenario:  Good news that buying is even easier.  Bad news that selling is harder after you have rehabbed.  And when you are calculating your ARV, you have to assume that price pressure will continue to move prices lower.

Furthermore, because of the sharp drop in sales volume, home inventories are spiking, which also moves prices down.

Homes for sale nationwide fell just short of 4 million units in July and, at the current sales paces, it would take 12.5 months for the existing inventory to be absorbed.

Home supply was just 8.9 months in June.

In Massachusetts, several counties we work in saw decreases of 30% and even more.

For home sellers , the Existing Home Sales report is a bit of bad news.  Fewer sales and larger inventories put negotiation leverage in the hands of the buyers which, in turn, creates downward pressure on home prices.  It may also increase time-on-market.

For home buyers, however, the data is decidedly welcome. After a stimulus-driven spring buying season that favored sellers, the summer and early-fall market seem to favor buyers. More choices and more leverage is a positive.

It helps that home affordability is up, too.

Although there’s reports that home values are rising, their modest gains are more than countered by the ongoing rally in mortgage rates. Freddie Mac says that 30-year fixed rate mortgage rates are at their lowest levels in history and, at today’s rates, every one-eighth drop in mortgage rates roughly offsets a 1.5% increase to home price.

Mortgage rates are down 0.75 percent since mid-April.