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Home sales are off to a great start this year

(NAR REPORTS) Home sales are off to a really great start. Like pre-recession levels, readers – what challenges could hold the market back?

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Home sales off to a good start

Existing home sales rose in January to the fastest pace in nearly a decade, according to the National Association of Realtors, with all regions gaining except for the Midwest.

Completed transactions rose 3.3 in January to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.69 million in January from an upwardly revised 5.51 million in December 2016. The pace is up 3.8 percent from a year ago, the strongest seen since February 2007. Those are pre-crash numbers, you guys!

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Dr. Lawrence Yun, NAR Chief Economist, says the gains signal consumer resilience despite rising interest rates.

“Much of the country saw robust sales activity last month as strong hiring and improved consumer confidence at the end of last year appear to have sparked considerable interest in buying a home,” he said.

“Market challenges remain, but the housing market is off to a prosperous start as homebuyers staved off inventory levels that are far from adequate and deteriorating affordability conditions,” noted Dr. Yun.

Home prices continue to rise

The median existing home price in January rose 7.1 percent over the year to $228,900. This period’s increase marks the most rapid since last January, and represents the 59th consecutive month of year-over-year gains.

Inventory is 7.1 percent lower than a year ago, but actually rose in January by 2.4 percent – welcome news for the homebuyers that have been benched by tight inventory levels (that combined with rising prices, creates affordability problems).

Nationally, properties averaged 50 days on the market, down 14 days a year ago. Click To Tweet

“Competition is likely to heat up even more heading into the spring for house hunters looking for homes in the lower- and mid-market price range,” added Dr. Yun. NAR’s research indicates that combining tight inventory levels with rising interest rates led to households in over half of all states last months being able to afford less.

Another challenge for buyers in coming months

NAR President William E. Brown, cautions about another source that could possibly drag down inventory for would-be buyers in coming months.

“Supply and demand imbalances continue to be burdensome in many markets, and now Fannie Mae is supporting a Wall Street firm’s investment in single-family rentals,” he said.

“This will only further hamper tight supply and put major investors in direct competition with traditional buyers. Instead, the GSEs should lower overly burdensome fees and help qualified borrowers become homeowners.”

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All regions but the Midwest saw more sales

Home sales in the Northeast jumped 5.3 percent to an annual rate of 800,000, and are now 6.7 percent above a year ago. The median price in the Northeast was $253,800, which is 2.5 percent above January 2016.

In the Midwest, existing-home sales decreased 1.5 percent to an annual rate of 1.29 million in January, and are 0.8 percent below a year ago. The median price in the Midwest was $174,900, up 6.5 percent from a year ago.

Existing-home sales in the South in January rose 3.6 percent to an annual rate of 2.31 million, and are now 3.1 percent above January 2016. The median price in the South was $201,400, up 9.2 percent from a year ago.

Existing-home sales in the West ascended 6.6 percent to an annual rate of 1.29 million in January, and are now 8.4 percent above a year ago. The median price in the West was $332,300, up 6.8 percent from January 2016.

#HomeSales

Staff Writer at The Real Daily, Tara Steele has long covered real estate news, technology news and everything in between. She has analyzed economic data for ages, and relishes in telling the real story behind the real estate industry.

NAR Reports

Home sales on the rise – don’t call it a comeback (okay, do)

(REAL ESTATE) Inventory levels continue to fall as prices rise, making for a competitive market. After a tough winter, February saw considerable gains in home sales.

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For years, inventory levels have been sinking, and prices have been growing, making the home buying process increasingly complex and sometimes discouraging. But after two consecutive months of declining sales, existing-home sales made a comeback in February, rising 3.0 percent, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Sales are now 1.1 percent higher than February of last year. #GoodNews

Although home sales in the Midwest and Northeast saw a dip in this period, the South and West regions skyrocketed, boosting the national numbers.

Dr. Lawrence Yun, NAR’s Chief Economist noted that “The very healthy U.S. economy and labor market are creating a sizeable interest in buying a home in early 2018. However, even as seasonal inventory gains helped boost sales last month, home prices – especially in the West – shot up considerably. Affordability continues to be a pressing issue because new and existing housing supply is still severely subpar.”

Added Yun, “The unseasonably cold weather to start the year muted pending sales in the Northeast and Midwest in January and ultimately led to their sales retreat last month. Looking ahead, several markets in the Northeast will likely see even more temporary disruptions from the large winter storms that have occurred in March.”

Click to enlarge.

In February, the median home price rose to $241,700, a 5.9 percent increase from February 2017, and the 72nd straight month of annual gains. The average days on market fell to 37, down from 41 in January, and 45 last February. That’s what we call a competitive market.

NAR President Elizabeth Mendenhall comments on the difficulty first-time buyers are seeing in this competitive market. “Realtors® in several markets note that entry-level homes for first-timers are hard to come by, which is contributing to their underperforming share of overall sales to start the year. Prospective buyers should start conversations with a Realtor® now on what they want in a new home. Even with the expected uptick in new listings in coming months, buyers in most markets will likely have to act fast on any available listing that checks all their boxes.”

Regional performance varied, with sales in the West outperforming all other regions. While sales fell in the Northeast by 12.3 percent, and dropped 2.4 percent in the Midwest, they skyrocketed 11.4 percent in the West, and 6.6 percent in the South.

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NAR Reports

Existing home sales surged in October, what’s next?

(REAL ESTATE NEWS) Existing home sales rose in October despite continually tight inventory levels and rising home values.

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Despite the challenges of ongoing political uncertainty, extremely tight inventory conditions, and home values that continue to rise, existing home sales rose 2.0 percent in October, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

This marks the strongest home sales pace since June, yet are 0.9 percent below October 2016. October’s average days on market was 34, down from 41 days on this month last year.

The median price has risen 5.5 percent in the last year to $247,000 with October marking the 68th consecutive month of annual increases. Nearly half of all homes on the market in October sold in under 30 days.

Dr. Lawrence Yun, NAR Chief Economist said, “While the housing market gained a little more momentum last month, sales are still below year ago levels because low inventory is limiting choices for prospective buyers and keeping price growth elevated.”

Added Yun, “The residual effects on sales from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma are still seen in parts of Texas and Florida. However, sales should completely bounce back to their pre-storm levels by the end of the year, as demand for buying in these areas was very strong before the storms.”

Regional performances varied with sales rising in the Northeast by 4.2 percent, in the West by 2.4 percent, the South by 1.9 percent, and 0.8 percent in the Midwest.

Prices also varied depending on region, with the median price in the West rising 7.8 percent above October 2016 (to $375,100), 6.6 percent in the Northeast (to $272,800), 7.1 percent in the Midwest (to $194,700), and 4.6 percent in the South (to $214,900).

Dr. Yun expects conditions to remain competitive through the winter, but housing is experiencing a tremendous hanging chad right now – what will politicians do to the tax deductions that incentivize homeownership in the first place?

NAR President Elizabeth Mendenhall, says the pending tax reform legislation in both the House and Senate is a direct attack on homeowners and homeownership, with the result being a tax increase on millions of middle-class homeowners in both large and small communities throughout the U.S.

“Making changes to the mortgage interest deduction, eliminating or capping the deduction for state and local taxes and modifying the rules on capital gains exemptions poses serious harm to millions of homeowners and future buyers,” said Mendenhall. “With first-time buyers struggling to reach the market, Congress should not be creating disincentives to buy and sell a home. Furthermore, adding $1.5 trillion to the national debt will raise future borrowing costs for our children and grandchildren.”

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NAR Reports

Sustained lull in signed contracts means pullback in home sales

(REAL ESTATE NEWS) Existing home sales aren’t looking super hot this month, but it’s not the bad news that you’re thinking – let’s discuss!

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Existing home sales slide in June

Low supply has kept home sales muted, with existing home sales dipping 1.8 percent in the month of June, albeit 0.7 percent above June of 2016, according to the National Association of Realtors. The Midwest region is the current bright spot as the only area sales actually rose during this period.

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Dr. Lawrence Yun, NAR Chief Economist, says the previous three-month lull in contract activity translated to a pullback in existing sales in June.

“Closings were down in most of the country last month because interested buyers are being tripped up by supply that remains stuck at a meager level and price growth that’s straining their budget,” said Yun.

He added, “The demand for buying a home is as strong as it has been since before the Great Recession. Listings in the affordable price range continue to be scooped up rapidly, but the severe housing shortages inflicting many markets are keeping a large segment of would-be buyers on the sidelines.”

There’s a silver lining

“The good news is,” observes Yun, “that sales are still running slightly above last year’s pace despite these persistent market challenges.”

The median price for an existing home rose 6.5 percent over the last year to $263,800, surpassing May as the new peak, and the 64th consecutive month of year-over-year gains.

Housing inventory declined 0.5 percent from the previous month, and 7.1 percent over the last year. Average days on market rose one day from May to 28 in June, which is down from 34 days in June 2016.

Supply and demand challenges

First time buyers were 32 percent of sales in June, down one percent from both in May and a year ago. Yun says “It’s shaping up to be another year of below average sales to first-time buyers despite a healthy economy that continues to create jobs,” said Yun.

“Worsening supply and affordability conditions in many markets have unfortunately put a temporary hold on many aspiring buyers’ dreams of owning a home this year,” noted Yun.

Spicy sales in the Midwest

In the Midwest, sales rose 3.1 percent from May but remain unchanged from this time last year. The median price rose 7.7 percent in the last year to $213,000.

In the Northeast, existing home sales actually fell 2.6 percent, but are 1.3 percent above a year ago (the median price was $296,300, up 4.1 percent for the year).

The South saw a 4.7 percent dip in sales ((unchanged from a year ago) and the median price in the South was $231,300, up 6.2 percent from a year ago.

Sales in the West declined 0.8 percent but are 2.5 percent above June 2016. The median price in the West was $378,100, up 7.4 percent from June 2016.

#HomeSales

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