Archive for February, 2013

New home sales jump to highest pace since mid-2008 – MarketWatch

By Jeffry Bartash

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) – Sales of new U.S. homes jumped 15.6% in January to an annual rate of 437,000 to mark the highest pace of activity since July 2008, according to Commerce Department data released Tuesday. The rate of sales in January easily surpassed the 384,000 estimate of economists polled by MarketWatch. What’s more, December sales were revised up to 378,000 from an initial read of 369,000. The numbers are seasonally adjusted. The median price of new homes, however, fell more than 9% to $226,400 in January from $249,800, indicating that buyers flocked to less expensive properties. Sales rose the fastest in the West, up 45.3%, and they also climbed 27.6% in the Northeast. Sales might have benefited in the Northeast from unseasonably warm winter weather that persisted from December into early January. The supply of new homes available for purchase fell to 4.1 months at the current sales rate from 4.8 months in December – the lowest level since early 2005. New home sales are almost 29% higher compared to one year ago.

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Home prices rise in December, Case-Shiller says – MarketWatch

By Ruth Mantell

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — U.S. home prices rose in December, and saw the largest year-over-year gain since 2006, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller home-price index released Tuesday. The S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city composite posted a nonseasonally adjusted 0.2% increase in December, following a 0.1% decline in November. After seasonal adjustment, home prices rose 0.9% in December. “Home prices ended 2012 with solid gains,” said David Blitzer, index committee chairman at S&P Dow Jones Indices. Looking at longer-term trends, December’s prices were up 6.8% from the same period in the prior year — the largest annual gain since July 2006 – with increases in 19 of 20 cities. New York was the only city with a year-over-year decrease, falling 0.5%. Low inventories and increasing demand have supported prices over the past year. Despite housing-market gains, prices remain about 29% below a bubble peak in 2006, according to Case-Shiller data.

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Pending home sales rise in January – Marketwatch

By Ruth Mantell

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — As affordability continued to attract buyers, pending home sales rose 4.5% in January to the highest level since April 2010, when buyers rushed to make a tax-credit deadline, the National Association of Realtors reported Wednesday. The pending-home-sales index increased to 105.9 in January from 101.3 in December. An index reading of 100 equals the average level of contract activity during 2001, the first year of data. January’s reading was up 9.5% from the same period in the prior year, the 21st consecutive year-over-year gain. By region, January saw pending-home-sale gains of 8.2% in the Northeast, 5.9% in the South, 4.5% in the Midwest, and 0.1% in the West. A sale is listed as pending when the contract has been signed but the transaction has not closed. Typically, sales are finalized within two months of signing. Higher pending home sales signal that actual home sales are likely to rise in coming months. January’s gain followed two months of declines.

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Home prices climb as fastest rate in 6 ½ years – MarketWatch

By Steve Goldstein, MarketWatch

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — U.S. house prices in December were 8.3% higher than a year earlier, the strongest advance since May 2006, CoreLogic said Tuesday. But the data also show the considerable distance to go before the housing market reaches prerecession peaks.

he December monthly price gain was 0.4%.

CoreLogic said 46 of 50 states registered gains for the year. Arizona has the strongest year-on-year appreciation at 20.2%, though prices are down 39.8% there from the peak.

Nationally, prices are down 26.9% from the April 2006 peak.

CoreLogic’s pending index forecasts a 1% monthly drop in January, reflecting a seasonal winter slowdown.

Mortgage rates near record lows, a dwindling backlog of foreclosures, waning distressed-property activity and a slowly improving jobs market have all put a wind at housing’s back. Low inventories of both existing and new properties also has helped prices.

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