Posts filed under ‘Existing Home Sales’

Pending Home Sales Index Crosses The 100 Barrier

Pending Home Sales 2010-2012

After a series of worse-than-expected data last month, the housing market appears to be back on track.

The Pending Home Sales Index posted 101.4 in March, a four percent gain from the month prior and the index’s highest reading since April 2010 — the last month of that year’s federal home buyer tax credit.

A “pending home” is a home under contract to sell, but not yet closed. The Pending Home Sales Index is tracked and published by the National Association of REALTORS® monthly.

The March report marks the index’s first 100-plus reading in nearly two years.

To home buyers and sellers throughout Michigan , this is statistically significant because the Pending Home Sales Index is normalized to 100, a value corresponding to the average home contract activity in 2001, the index’s first year of existence. 2001 was an historically-strong year for the housing market.

The March 2012 Pending Home Sales Index, therefore, puts current market activity on par with market activity from 2001.

You wouldn’t know it from reading this week’s papers, though. There have been stories about how the Case-Shiller Index put home values at new loans; and how the Existing Home Sales figures unexpectedly dropped off; and how the New Home Sales report was a laggard.

But this is why the Pending Home Sales Index can be so important.

What makes the Pending Home Sales Index different from those other data points is that the Pending Home Sales Index is a “forward-looking” housing market indicator.

Unlike most data which aims to tell us how the housing market performed at some point in the past, the Pending Home Sales Index attempts to tell us how the housing market will perform at some point in the future. 

80% of homes under contract close within 2 months. Many more close within months 3-4. Therefore, on the strength of the March Pending Home Sales Index, we should expect a strong April and May nationwide

If you’re shopping for homes right now, consider taking advantage while the market remains somewhat soft. Mortgage rates are low and home prices are, too. It can make for a good home-buying conditions.

April 27, 2012 at 8:52 am Leave a comment

Existing Home Sales Slip In March

Existing Home Sales In March, for the second straight month, home resales slipped nationwide.

According to the National Association of REALTORS®, March 2012 Existing Home Sales fell to 4.48 million units on a seasonally-adjusted annualized basis — a 3 percent drop from February.

An “existing home” is a home that’s been previously occupied or owned.

The weaker-than-expected Existing Home Sales data is the third such housing report this month to suggest a lull in the spring housing market. Earlier this week, homebuilder confidence slipped for the first time in three months and March Single-Family Housing Starts fell, too.

The news wasn’t entirely bad for home resales, however. Although total home units sold decreased, so did the number of homes available for sale. There were just 2.37 million homes for sale nationwide in March, a 2 percent drop from the month prior.

At the current pace of sales, therefore, the entire nation’s home resale stock would “sell out” in 6.3 months. This is the second-fastest pace since the housing market’s April 2007 peak.  

A 6-month supply is widely believed to represent a market in balance between buyers and sellers.

The March Existing Home Sales data shows that — despite record-low mortgage rates nationwide — buyer activity in Lansing is slowing, and seller activity may be slowing, too.

So long as the two forces remain in balance, home prices should do the same. This is the law of Supply and Demand at work. 

However, if home sales continue to slide and home inventory builds, buyers may find themselves with an edge in negotiations. 

If you’re planning to buy a home in 2012, the long-term housing trend is still toward recovery. This season may be a good time to look at your options. Talk to your real estate agent to see what’s available. Low mortgage rates may persist, but low home prices may not.

April 20, 2012 at 8:47 am Leave a comment

Existing Home Sales Stay Strong; Spring Season Underway

Existing Home Sales

The market for home resales stays strong.

Despite sparse home inventory, the National Association of REALTORS® reports that 4.59 million existing homes were sold in February on a seasonally-adjusted, annualized basis. An “existing home” is a home that cannot be classified as new construction.

Last month’s sales data represents a 9 percent improvement from the year prior.

There are now just 2.43 million homes for sale nationwide — a 19% reduction versus a year ago. The complete home inventory would “sell out” in 6.4 months at the current sales pace.

Some analysts believe that a 6-month home supply indicates a housing market in balance.

The real estate trade group’s report contained other noteworthy statistics, too :

  1. 32 percent of home sales were made to first-time buyers
  2. 33 percent of home sales were made with cash (i.e. no mortgage)
  3. 34 percent of home sales were of foreclosed homes or homes in short sale

In addition, nearly one-third of all home sales “failed” last month, the result of homes not appraising at the purchase price; or, the buyer’s inability to secure mortgage financing; or, insurmountable home inspection issues.

Even accounting for last month’s high contract failure rate,though,  the Existing Home Sales report still posted its second-highest reading since May 2010. For today’s Okemos home buyer, the data may be a “buy signal”.

As compared to last fall, home supplies are down and home sales are up. Basic economics tell us that home prices should start to rise shortly — if they haven’t already. After all, the Existing Home Sales data is 30 days old, reporting on February. It’s nearly April today.

The good news is that homes remain affordable. With conforming and FHA mortgage rates in the low-4 percent range, home affordability is at its highest in history. Home prices may rise this spring, but at least your mortgage payment should remain low.

March 22, 2012 at 8:47 am Leave a comment

Pending Home Sales Rise To 22-Month High

Pending Home Sales Index 2011-2012The housing market appears headed for a strong spring season.

After a brief setback in December, the Pending Home Sales Index resumed its climb in January, posting a 2 percent gain over the month prior.

The data puts pressure on East Lansing home buyers. This is because a “pending home” is a home that’s under contract to sell, but has not yet sold. It’s tracked by the National Association of REALTORS® and, among all housing statistics, it’s the only one that’s “forward-looking”.

The Pending Home Sales Index is important to home buyers throughout Michigan because 80% of homes under contract to sell close within 60 days of contract. In this way, the Pending Home Sales Index forecasts the housing market 1-2 months into the future.

This is very different from how NAR’s Existing Home Sales report works; or, how the Census Bureau’s New Home Sales report works. These two metrics tell us what’s already happened in housing.

By contrast, the Pending Home Sales Index tells us what’s coming next.

January’s Pending Home Sales Index reading lifts the monthly metric to its highest level since April 2010 — the month during which the 2010 federal home buyer tax credit expired — foreshadowing a strong housing market through March and April 2012, at least.

This should not be news, of course. The nation’s home builders have said “foot traffic” is rising and home supplies are scarce nationwide. The only wild-card for housing is the high contract cancellation rate.

As compared to last January when just 9 percent of home purchase contracts “failed”, this January saw 33 percent of contracts fail. High failure rates undermine the Pending Home Sales Index’s viability as a forward-looking housing market indicator.

Despite contract failures, though, the combination of low mortgage rates and low home prices is enticing to today’s home buyers. Expect home sales to climb in the coming weeks which will lead to a strong spring season for housing. 

February 29, 2012 at 9:47 am Leave a comment

Existing Home Sales Climb To A 20-Month Record

Existing home supplyJanuary’s home resales moved to a 20-month high — additional evidence that the nation’s housing recovery is underway.

According to the National Association of REALTORS®, the January 2012 Existing Home Sales showed 4.57 million units sold last month on a seasonally-adjusted, annualized basis — a 4 percent increase as compared to December’s revised figures.

An “existing home” is one that’s been previously occupied and cannot be categorized as new construction.

Beyond the headline numbers, though, there was plenty about which for today’s East Lansing home sellers to get excited. Demand for homes remains strong, foreshadowing higher home prices through 2012.

First, the national housing stock is at a 5-year low.

In January, the number of homes for sale nationwide slipped to 2.31 million, the smallest home inventory since February 2007, and a 21% decrease from just one year ago.

Falling home supply amid constant home demand leads home prices higher. At the current pace of sales, today’s complete home inventory would “sell out” in 6.1 months. 

Analysts say that a 6-month supply is a market in balance. Anything less is Bull Market territory.

Second, the National Association of REALTORS® says that one-third of all homes under contract “failed” last month. This means that many more buyers tried to buy, but couldn’t for a number of reasons including mortgage denials; or, insurmountable home inspections issues; or, homes appraising for less than the contract price.

As contract failures subside, Existing Home Sales are expected to rise even faster.

And, lastly, first-time buyers continue to power the home resale market. In January, 33% of all sales were made to first-time buyers, up four points from last year. This statistic suggests that renters are moving into homeownership, an important component in a sustained housing market recovery.  

Given high demand and shrinking supply, we should expect for Michigan State University home prices to rise in the coming months, if they haven’t already. Thankfully, mortgage rates remain near all-time lows.

Low mortgage rates make homes more affordable.

February 23, 2012 at 9:47 am Leave a comment

Pending Home Sales Index Rises Back Above 100

Pending Home Sales IndexLow home prices and mortgage rates have combined to push home affordability to record levels nationwide. Home buyers are taking advantage.

The Pending Home Sales Index rose 7 percent in November to rise to its highest level since April 2010, the last month of last year’s home buyer tax credit program. 

The Pending Home Sales Index is published monthly by the National Association of REALTORS®. It measures homes under contract nationwide, but not yet “sold”. 

In this way, the Pending Home Sales Index is different from other housing market indicators. It’s a “forward-looking” figure; a predictor of future home sales. According to the National Association of REALTORS®, more than 80% of homes under contract close within 60 days. 

By contrast, housing data such as the Existing Home Sales report and the New Home Sales report “look back”.

November marks the second straight month of Pending Home Sales Index improvement. The housing market metric made big gains of 10 percent in October 2011, as well.

On a regional basis, each part of the country showed an increase in homes under contract.

  • Northeast Region: +8.1 percent from October 2011
  • Midwest Region : +3.3 percent from October 2011 
  • South Region : +4.3 percent from October 2011
  • West Region : +14.9 percent from October 2011

However, here in East Lansing, we must discount the value of even the regional data, somewhat. Like else in real estate, the volume of homes going under contract vary by locality.

Throughout the West Region, for example, the region in which pending home sales increased the most from October, there are nearly a dozen states. Undoubtedly, some of those states performed better than others in terms of “homes under contract”, but we don’t have an indication of which states those were.

In addition, within each state, every city, town, and neighborhood realized its own unique market in November, and produced its own sales statistics.

For buyers and sellers throughout Michigan and the country, therefore, it’s more important to watch data on a local level than on a national one. Reports like the Pending Home Sales Index are helpful in showing national trends, but as an individual, what you need are local trends.

For local real estate data, be sure to ask your agent.

December 30, 2011 at 9:47 am Leave a comment

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week : December 27, 2011

Existing home sales Mortgage markets worsened last week on renewed optimism from the Eurozone, additional evidence of a U.S. economic recovery, and ongoing strength in housing.

The action sparked a stock market rally at the expense of mortgage bonds, sending conforming and FHA mortgage rates meaningfully higher for the first time in more than 2 months.

Markets closed early Friday and remained closed Monday. When they re-open today, conforming mortgage rates will already have bounced off last week’s new, all-time lows.

As reported by Freddie Mac’s weekly mortgage rate survey, the average 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell to 3.91 percent nationwide, with an accompanying 0.7 discount points plus closing costs. 1 discount point is equal to 1 percent of your loan size such that 1 discount point on a $100,000 loan is equal to $1,000.

It’s not just the conventional 30-year fixed that made new lows last week, either. All of Freddie Mac’s reported rates fell to new, all-time lows.

  • 30-year fixed : 3.91% with 0.7 discount points
  • 15-year fixed : 3.21% with 0.8 discount points
  • 5-year ARM : 2.85% with 0.6 discount points

These rates are no longer valid, however. FHA mortgage rates rose slightly last week, too.

This week, mortgage rates will be more volatile than usual. There isn’t much economic data on which to trade, and it’s a holiday-shortened week (again). Look for geopolitics and momentum to nudge markets forward, therefore — a potentially bad combination for today’s rate shoppers. There is very little room for mortgage rates to fall, but lots of room for them to rise.

If the stock market rallies to close 2011, mortgage rates will rise right on with it.

For now, rates remain historically low. If you’ve been shopping for a mortgage — waiting for rates to fall — this last week of the year may be your last chance at sub-4 percent, fixed-rate mortgage rates. Don’t wait too long or you might miss it.

It’s a good time to execute on a rate lock.

December 27, 2011 at 9:47 am Leave a comment

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Don Grimes

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