Posts Tagged February

Home sales reach highest rate since 2009 – MarketWatch


By Ruth Mantell, MarketWatch

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — Existing-home sales rose in February to reach the highest rate in more than three years, another sign of a strengthening housing market, as inventories posted an unusually large gain in the month, a trade group said Thursday.

The National Association of Realtors said existing-home sales rose 0.8% in February to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.98 million, hitting the highest level since November 2009.

Economists polled by MarketWatch had expected a pace of 5.02 million for February, compared with an original estimate of a 4.92 million rate in January. See economic calendar. On Thursday, NAR upwardly revised January’s rate to 4.94 million.

While sales remain below prerecession and bubble levels, low mortgage rates and an improving jobs picture are supporting demand. Also, rising prices are encouraging activity, luring sellers to place homes on the market.

Inventories rose 9.6% in February to 1.94 million existing homes available for sale. The months’ supply of existing homes rose to 4.7 in February from 4.3 in January, the first increase since April, but still a relatively low figure. January’s months’ supply was the lowest since May 2005.

Compared with February 2012, the median sales price rose 11.6% to $173,600. Elsewhere Thursday, a federal agency reported that home prices in January climbed 6.5% from the same period in the prior year. Read more about the government’s estimate.

“The trend in home sales still looks up; with inventories down sharply, prices are rising as well,” Jim O’Sullivan, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics, wrote in a research note. “While levels are still low, housing is now the strongest part of the economy in growth terms.”

Other housing data released this week indicated a housing market that is growing stronger over the long term, despite some mixed recent indicators. Construction on new U.S. homes recently nudged up, and confidence among home builders declined. Read more about construction.Read more about builder confidence.

Going forward, there’s concern that overly stringent lending standards and ongoing high unemployment could cut the housing market’s improvement.

Still, analysts expect the housing market to continue to add to economic growth this year given the Federal Reserve’s backing and an economy that is adding jobs. Indeed, a recent reading on building permits, which are a sign of future demand, hit the highest level since June 2008.

 

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Pending home sales up 4.1% in March to 23-mo. high (Marketwatch)


By Steve Goldstein

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — An index of pending home sales climbed 4.1% in March to reach the highest level since April 2010, the National Association of Realtors said Thursday. The index rose to 101.4 in March from an upwardly revised 97.4 in February, which represents a 12.8% gain from March 2011. February’s pending home sales index was initially reported to be 96.5. A sale is listed as pending when the contract has been signed but the transaction has not closed, though the sale usually is finalized within one or two months of signing. Sales of existing homes during the first quarter were the strongest in five years, and the trade group said the pending home sales data suggests the second quarter will be equally good.

TMN Comments:  Interesting article.  We are actually seeing the same trends in the Vail Valley.  Our Under Contract properties for the 1st quarter are nearly 30% higher than the number of properties that went under contract in the 1st quarter, 2011.  I attribute this activity to 4 things:

1.  Pent up demand.  People are still getting married and having kids. 

2.  Record low interest rates.  You can get new financing (assuming you qualify) for about 4%.

3.  General perception that we have hit the bottom in the local real estate market.

4.  The large number of distressed properties hitting the market.

It is still a rough time for sellers and will continue to be difficult until we flush out the distressed properties. 

 

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