Posts Tagged Real estate economics

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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A New Housing Boom – CNN/Money


The long-battered housing market is finally starting to get back on its feet. But some experts believe it could soon become another housing boom.

Signs of recovery have been evident in the recent pick ups in home prices, home sales and construction. Foreclosures are also down and the Federal Reserve has acted to push mortgage rates near record lows.

But while many economists believe this emerging housing recovery will produce only slow and modest improvement in home prices, construction and jobs, others believe the rebound will be much stronger.

Barclays Capital put out a report recently forecasting that home prices, which fell by more than a third after the housing bubble burst in 2007, could be back to peak levels as soon as 2015.

“In our view, the housing market had undergone a dramatic over-correction during the prior five years, resulting in pent-up demand for housing purchases that would spark a rapid rise in housing starts,” said Stephen Kim, an analyst with Barclays, in a note to clients.

In addition to what Kim sees as a big rebound in building, he’s bullish on home prices, expecting rises of 5% to 7.5% a year.

Construction is expected to be even stronger, with numerous experts forecasting home construction to grow by at least 20% a year for each of the next two years. Some believe building could be back near the pre-bubble average of about 1.5 million new homes a year by 2016, about double the 750,000 homes expected this year.

“We think the recovery is for real this time around,” said Rick Palacios, senior analyst with John Burns Real Estate Consulting. “If you look across the U.S. economy right now, there are only a handful of industries looking at 20-30% growth over the next 4-5 years, and housing is one of those.”

“That turn in the [housing] market is occurring now and it should become a boom by 2015. It will be powerful enough … to lift the entire U.S. economy,” said Roger Altman, chairman of Evercore Partners and former deputy Treasury secretary, in a column for the Financial Times.

Altman said he expects housing will add 4 million jobs to the economy over the next five years, as pent-up demand for home purchases drives building and and home prices higher.

 

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Case-Shiller shows home prices rise again – MarketWatch


By Ruth Mantell

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — U.S. home prices rose in September for the sixth month, signaling that the housing market is “in the midst of a recovery,” according to the S&P/Case-Shiller home-price index released Tuesday. The S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city composite posted a 0.3% increase in September following a 0.8% gain in August. Home prices are up 3% from the prior year. “We are entering the seasonally weak part of the year. Despite the seasons, housing continues to improve,” said David Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. Among the 20 cities tracked by the index, 13 posted monthly gains in September. Tuesday’s report on home prices is the latest news on a strengthening housing market. There have also been recent gains in new construction, home-builder sentiment, and existing-home sales. However, while persistently low mortgage rates are attracting some buyers, consumers still face tight credit standards, and officials say factors such as tight lending terms will block a powerful housing recovery. Indeed, despite recent gains, prices are about 30% below peak levels in 2006, according to Case-Shiller data

 

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8 Signs Housing Is on the Mend


 

Some Americans are still jittery over the housing market, but here are eight positive signs that should quell some of their fears.

  1. Housing prices are on the rise across the country.
  2. Foreclosures have slowed. Analysts suggest that as the supply of distressed homes slows, buyers will be forced into higher-price properties too.
  3. Inventories of for-sale homes on the market are decreasing. In fact, inventories of for-sale homes have dropped 24 percent from a year ago.
  4. Mortgage rates are at ultra record level lows, for those who can qualify
  5. Housing starts rose 6.9 percent in June. Also, existing-home sales were up 4.5 percent higher in June compared to one year ago.
  6. Home building stocks are on the rise.
  7. For investors who are buying homes, rents are soaring, allowing them to cash in on their investments. Rental prices are at a 10-year high as median units rent for $710 a month.
  8. Home affordability is at record highs for the median income family, due to falling home values and super low mortgage rates. In fact, a recent study found that it is cheaper to buy a home than rent in basically ever major city in the U.S. For those who buy, you can save the cost of renting by owning the home for five years or less.

But while the signs point to a housing market on the mend, some Americans still remain hesitant. Many Americans are still underwater on their mortgage, owing more on their home than it is currently worth. Also, the economy continues to weigh on the recovery, particularly a dampening employment outlook, which analysts see as tied to housing.

Still, The Wall Street Journal concludes in a recent article that if you take into account all the positive signs lately in the housing market, “housing presents an attractive long-term investment that should hold steady or even have upside surprise in the short term.”

 

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U.S. housing starts rise 6.9% in June – MarketWatch


 

By Jeffry Bartash

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) – Construction on new U.S. homes in June rose 6.9% to an annual rate of 760,000, the highest level since October 2008, but building permits fell slightly, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday. Housing starts in May were revised up to 711,000 from an original reading of 708,000. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had expected housing starts to rise in June to an annual rate of 750,000 on a seasonally adjusted basis. Permits for new construction, viewed as a gauge of future demand, edged 3.7% lower to an annual rate of 755,000 from 784,000 in May. Permits for single-family homes, which account for three-quarters of the housing market, rose a scant 0.6% to an annual rate of 493,000 last month. More than half of the increase in housing starts in June involved buildings with five or more units.

 

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Housing starts up 2.6% in April as permits fall 7% – MarketWatch


WASHINGTON — Construction on new US homes rose 2.6 percent in April to an annual rate of 717,000 units, while building permits fell seven percent to 715,000 — one month after reaching a near four-year high, the government reported Wednesday.

Economists surveyed by MarketWatch expected housing starts in April to rise to a total 690,000 on a seasonally-adjusted basis. Housing starts in March were revised up sharply to 699,000 from 654,000, while permits were revised up to 769,000 — the highest level since September 2008 — from an original reading of 747,000.

In April, permits for single-family homes, which account for three-quarters of the housing market, edged up 1.9 percent to an annual rate of 475,000. Permits for new construction are viewed as a gauge of future demand.

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Feb. NAHB builder gauge hits more than 4-year high – Marketwatch


By Steve Goldstein

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) – Home builder confidence in the market for new single-family homes climbed in February for the fifth straight month to reach the highest level in more than four years, according to a survey released Wednesday. The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo housing market index rose to 29 in February from 25 in January, meaning the gauge has more than doubled since September. Economists polled by MarketWatch had expected a reading of 26. Though that’s still far below the level considered “good” – the seasonally adjusted gauge needs a reading of 50 to do that, which hasn’t been the case since April 2006 – it does indicate improving sentiment for builders. The home-builder gauge tracks closely with single-family housing starts, with the January data from that series due for release from the Commerce Department on Thursday.

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