Archive for 'Lawrence Yun'

NAR Report on Rising Home Prices

The crazy price increases of the early 2000’s are gone . Values since that time have dropped dramatically and finally stabilized and now we’re seeing a more normal market with regard to rising prices. The report below from the National Association of Realtors highlights where values have increased.

A promising climb in home sales throughout the country amidst insufficient supply caused home prices to steadily rise in most metro areas during the second quarter, according to the latest quarterly report by the National Association of Realtors®.

The median existing single-family home price increased in 93 percent of measured markets1, with 163 out of 176 metropolitan statistical areas2 (MSAs) showing gains based on closings in the second quarter compared with the second quarter of 2014. Thirteen areas (7 percent) recorded lower median prices from a year earlier.

The number of rising markets in the second quarter increased compared to the first quarter, when price gains were recorded in 85 percent of metro areas. Thirty-four metro areas in the second quarter (19 percent) experienced double-digit increases, a decline from the 51 metro areas in the first quarter. Nineteen metro areas (11 percent) experienced double-digit increases in the second quarter of 2014.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says the housing market has shifted into a higher gear in recent months. “Steady rent increases, the slow rise in mortgage rates and stronger local job markets fueled demand throughout most of the country this spring,” he said. “While this led to a boost in sales paces not seen since before the downturn, overall supply failed to keep up and pushed prices higher in a majority of metro areas.”

Adds Yun, “With home prices and rents continuing to rise and wages showing only modest growth, declining affordability remains a hurdle for renters considering homeownership – especially in higher-priced markets.”

The national median existing single-family home price in the second quarter was $229,400, up 8.2 percent from the second quarter of 2014 ($212,000). The median price during the first quarter of this year increased 7.1 percent from a year earlier.

The five most expensive housing markets in the second quarter were the San Jose, Calif., metro area, where the median existing single-family price was $980,000; San Francisco, $841,600; AnaheimSanta Ana, Calif., $685,700; Honolulu, $698,600; and San Diego, $547,800.

The five lowest-cost metro areas in the second quarter were Cumberland, Md., where the median single-family home price was $82,400; YoungstownWarrenBoardman, Ohio, $85,000; Rockford, Ill., $94,700; Decatur, Ill., $96,000; and Elmira, N.Y., $98,300.

Total existing-home sales3, including single family and condo, increased 6.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.30 million in the second quarter from 4.97 million in the first quarter, and are 8.5 percent higher than the 4.89 million pace during the second quarter of 2014.

“The ongoing rise in home values in recent years has greatly benefited homeowners by increasing their household wealth,” says Yun. “In the meantime, inequality is growing in America because the downward trend in the homeownership rate means these equity gains are going to fewer households.”

At the end of the second quarter, there were 2.30 million existing homes available for sale4, slightly above the 2.29 million homes for sale at the end of the second quarter in 2014. The average supply during the second quarter was 5.1 months – down from 5.5 months a year ago.

Metro area condominium and cooperative prices – covering changes in 61 metro areas – showed the national median existing-condo price was $217,400 in the second quarter, up 3.1 percent from the second quarter of 2014 ($210,800). Fifty metro areas (82 percent) showed gains in their median condo price from a year ago; 11 areas had declines.

Rising home prices weighed on affordability in the second quarter compared to the second quarter of last year despite an uptick in the national family median income ($66,637)5. To purchase a single-family home at the national median price, a buyer making a 5 percent downpayment would need an income of $49,195, a 10 percent downpayment would require an income of $46,605, and $41,427 would be needed for a 20 percent downpayment.

NAR President Chris Polychron, executive broker with 1st Choice Realty in Hot Springs, Ark., says Realtors® are reporting strong competition and limited days on market for available homes – especially at the entry-level price range. “Buyers should work with their Realtor® to deploy a negotiation strategy that helps their offer stand out,” he said. “If a bidding war occurs, it’s important for the buyer to stay patient and only counteroffer up to what he or she can comfortably afford. It’s better to walk away and wait for the right home instead of being in a situation where one has purchased a home above their means.”

Regional Breakdown
Total existing-home sales in the Northeast increased 10.3 percent in the second quarter and are 8.6 percent above the second quarter of 2014. The median existing single-family home price in the Northeast was $269,300 in the second quarter, up 5.2 percent from a year ago.

In the Midwest, existing-home sales jumped 13.4 percent in the second quarter and are 12.7 percent higher than a year ago. The median existing single-family home price in the Midwest increased 8.7 percent to $182,000 in the second quarter from the same quarter a year ago.

Existing-home sales in the South fell rose 1.1 percent in the second quarter and are 6.3 percent above the second quarter of 2014. The median existing single-family home price in the South was $202,900 in the second quarter, 8.7 percent above a year earlier.

In the West, existing-home sales climbed 8.1 percent in the second quarter and are 8.1 percent above a year ago. The median existing single-family home price in the West increased 9.6 percent to $325,200 in the second quarter from the second quarter of 2014.

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

NOTE: NAR releases quarterly median single-family price data for approximately 170 Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs). In some cases the MSA prices may not coincide with data released by state and local Realtor® associations. Any discrepancy may be due to differences in geographic coverage, product mix, and timing. In the event of discrepancies, Realtors® are advised that for business purposes, local data from their association may be more relevant.

Data tables for MSA home prices (single family and condo) are posted at http://www.realtor.org/topics/metropolitan-median-area-prices-and-affordability/data. If insufficient data is reported for a MSA in particular quarter, it is listed as N/A. For areas not covered in the tables, please contact the local association of Realtors®.

1The Ann Arbor, MI MSA and Harrisburg-Carlisle, PA MSA will now be included in the single-family price report.

2Areas are generally metropolitan statistical areas as defined by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget. NAR adheres to the OMB definitions, although in some areas an exact match is not possible from the available data. A list of counties included in MSA definitions is available at:  http://www.census.gov/population/estimates/metro-city/List4.txt.

Regional median home prices are from a separate sampling that includes rural areas and portions of some smaller metros that are not included in this report; the regional percentage changes do not necessarily parallel changes in the larger metro areas. The only valid comparisons for median prices are with the same period a year earlier due to seasonality in buying patterns. Quarter-to-quarter comparisons do not compensate for seasonal changes, especially for the timing of family buying patterns.

Median price measurement reflects the types of homes that are selling during the quarter and can be skewed at times by changes in the sales mix. For example, changes in the level of distressed sales, which are heavily discounted, can vary notably in given markets and may affect percentage comparisons. Annual price measures generally smooth out any quarterly swings.

NAR began tracking of metropolitan area median single-family home prices in 1979; the metro area condo price series dates back to 1989.
Because there is a concentration of condos in high-cost metro areas, the national median condo price often is higher than the median single-family price. In a given market area, condos typically cost less than single-family homes. As the reporting sample expands in the future, additional areas will be included in the condo price report.

3The seasonally adjusted annual rate for a particular quarter represents what the total number of actual sales for a year would be if the relative sales pace for that quarter was maintained for four consecutive quarters. Total home sales include single family, townhomes, condominiums and co-operative housing.

Seasonally adjusted rates are used in reporting quarterly data to factor out seasonal variations in resale activity. For example, sales volume normally is higher in the summer and relatively light in winter, primarily because of differences in the weather and household buying patterns.

4Total inventory and month’s supply data are available back through 1999, while single-family inventory and month’s supply are available back to 1982 (prior to 1999, single-family sales accounted for more than 90 percent of transactions and condos were measured only on a quarterly basis).

5Income figures are rounded to the nearest hundred, based on NAR modeling of Census data. Qualifying income requirements are determined using several scenarios on downpayment percentages and assume 25 percent of gross income devoted to mortgage principal and interest at a mortgage interest rate of 4.0%.

NOTE: Existing-Home Sales for July will be released August 20, and the Pending Home Sales Index for July will be released August 27; release times are 10:00 a.m. EDT.

Information about NAR is available at www.realtor.org. This and other news releases are posted in the “News, Blogs and Videos” tab on the website. Statistical data in this release, as well as other tables and surveys, are posted in the “Research and Statistics” tab.

CONTACT: Adam DeSanctis, 202/383-1178, adesanctis@realtors.org

RELATED LINKS
http://www.realtor.org

Mortgage Lenders Urged to Reduce Overcorrection in Underwriting Standards -NAR

Mortgage Lenders Urged to Reduce Overcorrection in Underwriting Standards -NAR-Image by james.thompson via Flickr

We need to keep housing first on the nation’s public policy agenda, because housing and homeownership issues affect all Americans, and a housing recovery is necessary for the nation’s economic well-being.

That was the message delivered today by National Association of Realtors® President Ron Phipps during the New Solutions for America’s Housing Crisis forum, where he joined a panel of experts to discuss solutions for addressing the country’s housing and economic challenges. The event was hosted by Economic Policies for the 21st Century and the Progressive Policy Institute.

“As the leading advocate for homeownership, Realtors® know that issues like affordable financing, natural disaster insurance, the mortgage interest deduction, and foreclosures and short sales don’t just affect people who own a home – homeownership shapes communities and strengthens the nation’s economy,” said Phipps, broker-president of Phipps Realty in Warwick, R.I. “America needs strong public policies that promote responsible, sustainable homeownership and that will help stabilize the nation’s housing market to support an economic recovery.”

Phipps said that housing is not recovering at the rate it should be and called on legislators and regulators to do no harm. He said that proposed legislation and regulatory rules or changes to homeownership tax benefits need to help America out of today’s economic struggles and not further harm consumer confidence or exacerbate problems within the fragile real estate industry.

Overly stringent standards and lower mortgage loan limits are preventing qualified borrowers from getting loans, and Phipps called on lenders and regulators to reduce the overcorrection in underwriting standards for mortgages. He urged support for policies that ensure qualified borrowers can obtain safe and sound mortgages in all markets at all times and encourage sound lending without high downpayment requirements.

“Realtors® support strong underwriting, but too-stringent standards are curtailing the ability of creditworthy consumers from obtaining mortgages to purchase a home, and that’s impacting the recovery,” said Phipps. “Making mortgages available to creditworthy home buyers and streamlining loan modifications and short sales will help stabilize and revitalize the housing industry and reduce the rising inventory of foreclosed homes.”

Phipps recommended that political and industry leaders work together to help reshape real estate and put the country back on the right track. “Our goal is to help ensure that anyone in this country who aspires to own their own home and can afford to do so is not denied the opportunity to build their future through homeownership,” Phipps said.

NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun also participated in the forum on a panel, “Homeownership, Tax Policy and Deficits.” Yun said it’s a misplaced argument to say the mortgage interest deduction is suddenly part of the deficit problem, when it’s been part of the federal tax code for nearly 100 years.

“The mortgage interest deduction is vital to the stability of the American housing market and economy,” said Yun. “Now is the worst possible time to discuss changes to the tax laws, which could impair the housing market’s fragile recovery and a broader job market recovery.

“Reducing or eliminating the MID is a de facto tax increase on homeowners, who already pay 80 to 90 percent of U.S. federal income tax. And middle-class families would be among the hardest hit; 65 percent of families who claim the MID earn less than $100,000 per year,” said Yun.

Yun also emphasized that any changes to the MID would greatly hamper the ability of small businesses to create jobs given that housing equity is often a major source of funding.

A video webcast of the event is available for viewing at www.livestream.com/progressivepolicyinstitute.

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1.1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

Housing Market Still Underperforming-NAR-Video

Housing Market Still Underperforming-NAR-Video

Housing Market Still Underperforming-NAR-Video-Image by TBoard via Flickr

Pending home sales slipped in August with a mixed regional performance but are higher than a year ago, according to the National Association of Realtors®.

The Pending Home Sales Index,* a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, declined 1.2 percent to 88.6 in August from 89.7 in July but is 7.7 percent above August 2010 when it stood at 82.3. The data reflects contracts but not closings.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said the decline reflects an uneven market. “The biggest monthly decline was in the Northeast, which was significantly disrupted by Hurricane Irene in the closing weekend of August,” he said. “But broadly speaking, contract signing activity has been holding in a narrow range for many months.”

The PHSI in the Northeast fell 5.8 percent to 63.6 in August but is 1.3 percent higher than August 2010. In the Midwest the index declined 3.7 percent to 76.2 in August but is 8.2 percent above a year ago. Pending home sales in the South rose 2.6 percent to an index of 96.9 and are 7.6 percent higher than August 2010. In the West the index declined 2.4 percent to 108.1 in August but is 10.5 percent above a year ago.

Yun said the market is underperforming given a pent-up demand in household formation. “We continue to experience a pattern in which financially qualified home buyers, willing to stay well within their means, are being denied credit – a factor in elevated levels of contract failures,” he said. “Based on the improving fundamentals of population growth, some job additions, rent increases and higher stock market wealth, we should be seeing existing-home sales closer to 5.5 million, but are expecting just over 4.9 million this year. The unnecessarily restrictive mortgage underwriting standards are attenuating the housing recovery and are a risk factor for the overall economy.”

Although economic growth as measured by the Gross Domestic Product is expected to remain positive, uncertainty is causing some consumer hesitation. “We need to remove the road blocks to the housing recovery for people who are trying to take advantage of excellent affordability conditions,” Yun added. “Unfortunately, some buyers also will face notably higher mortgage rates on jumbo loans because of a lack of competition in the banking industry.”

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1.1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

 

Home Sales Get Hot in August

Home Sales Get Hot in August

Home Sales Get Hot in August-Image via Wikipedia

Existing-home sales increased in August, even with ongoing tight credit and appraisal problems, along with regional disruptions created by Hurricane Irene, according to the National Association of Realtors®. Monthly gains were seen in all regions.

Total existing-home sales1, which are completed transactions that include single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, rose 7.7 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.03 million in August from an upwardly revised 4.67 million in July, and are 18.6 percent higher than the 4.24 million unit level in August 2010.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said there are some positive market fundamentals. “Some of the improvement in August may result from sales that were delayed in preceding months, but favorable affordability conditions and rising rents are underlying motivations,” he said. “Investors were more active in absorbing foreclosed properties. In addition to bargain hunting, some investors are in the market to hedge against higher inflation.”

Investors2 accounted for 22 percent of purchase activity in August, up from 18 percent in July and 21 percent in August 2010. First-time buyers purchased 32 percent of homes in August, unchanged from July; they were 31 percent in August 2010.

All-cash sales accounted for 29 percent of transactions in August, unchanged from July; they were 28 percent in August 2010; investors account for the bulk of cash purchases.

“We had some disruptions from Hurricane Irene in the closing weekend of August, when many sales normally are finalized, along the Eastern seaboard and in New England,” Yun said. “As a result, the Northeast saw the smallest sales gain in August, and some general impact is expected in September with widespread flooding from Tropical Storm Lee. Aberrations in housing data are possible over the next couple months as markets recover from disrupted closings and storm damage.”

Yun said an extremely important issue currently is the renewal and availability of the National Flood Insurance Program, scheduled to expire at the end of this month. “About one out of 10 homes in this country need flood insurance to get a mortgage, and we would see significant negative market impacts without it,” he said.

According to Freddie Mac, the national average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage fell to 4.27 percent in August, down from 4.55 percent in July; the rate was 4.43 percent in August 2010. Last week, Freddie Mac reported the 30-year fixed rate fell to a record low 4.09 percent.

NAR President Ron Phipps, broker-president of Phipps Realty in Warwick, R.I., said the market is remarkably affordable for people with secure jobs, good credit and long-term plans. “All year, the relationship between home prices, mortgage interest rates and family income has been hovering at historic highs, meaning the best housing affordability conditions in a generation,” he said.

“The biggest factors keeping home sales from a healthy recovery are mortgages being denied to creditworthy buyers, and appraised valuations below the negotiated price. Buyers may be able to find more favorable credit terms with community and small regional banks, and Realtors® can often give buyers advice to help them overcome some of the financing obstacles,” Phipps said.

Contract failures – cancellations caused largely by declined mortgage applications or failures in loan underwriting from appraised values coming in below the negotiated price – were reported by 18 percent of NAR members in August, up from 16 percent July and 9 percent in August 2010.

The national median existing-home price3 for all housing types was $168,300 in August, which is 5.1 percent below August 2010. Distressed homes – foreclosures and short sales typically sold at deep discounts – accounted for 31 percent of sales in August, compared with 29 percent in July and 34 percent in August 2010.

Total housing inventory at the end of August fell 3.0 percent to 3.58 million existing homes available for sale, which represents an 8.5-month supply4 at the current sales pace, down from a 9.5-month supply in July.

Single-family home sales rose 8.5 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.47 million in August from 4.12 million in July, and are 20.2 percent above the 3.72 million pace in August 2010. The median existing single-family home price was $168,400 in August, which is 5.4 percent below a year ago.

Existing condominium and co-op sales increased 1.8 percent a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 560,000 in August from 550,000 in July, and are 8.3 percent higher than the 517,000-unit level one year ago. The median existing condo price5 was $167,500 in August, down 3.3 percent from August 2010.

Regionally, existing-home sales in the Northeast increased 2.7 percent to an annual pace of 770,000 in August and are 10.0 percent above a year ago. The median price in the Northeast was $244,100, which is 5.1 percent below August 2010.

Existing-home sales in the Midwest rose 3.8 percent in August to a level of 1.09 million and are 26.7 percent above August 2010. The median price in the Midwest was $141,700, down 3.5 percent from a year ago.

In the South, existing-home sales increased 5.4 percent to an annual pace of 1.94 million in August and are 16.9 percent higher than a year ago. The median price in the South was $151,000, which is 0.8 percent below August 2010.

Existing-home sales in the West jumped 18.3 percent to an annual pace of 1.23 million in August and are 20.6 percent higher than August 2010. The median price in the West was $189,400, down 13.0 percent from a year ago.

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1.1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

 

Commercial real estate vacancy rates are flat and projections for growth have been moderated because economic growth and job creation have been weaker than expected, but modest improvements are expected over the coming year, according to the National Association of Realtors®.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said the weakening economy will slow the growth in demand for space. “Disappointing economic growth in recent months means a slower recovery for most of the commercial real estate sectors, although multifamily housing continues to benefit from pent-up demand resulting from an abnormal slowdown in household formation in recent years,” he said. “Many young people, who normally would have struck out on their own from 2008 to 2010, had been doubling up with roommates or moving back into their parents’ homes. However, they’ve been entering the rental market as new households in stronger numbers this year. As a result, apartment vacancy rates are declining and rents are rising at faster rates.”

Growth in the Gross Domestic Product slowed to 0.4 percent in the first quarter and 1.3 percent in the second quarter, much lower than the 4 to 5 percent expansion needed after a recession.

“A healthy recovery is already occurring in the multifamily sector, with average apartment rent expected to rise 2.5 percent this year and another 3.2 percent in 2012,” Yun said. “Normally, rising rents correspond to rising home prices. However, this isn’t happening in this recovery because buyers are constrained by unnecessarily restrictive mortgage underwriting standards, so the underlying demand isn’t drawing inventory down quickly enough to support price growth.”

Looking at commercial vacancy rates from the third quarter of this year to the third quarter of 2012, NAR forecasts vacancies to decline 0.3 percentage point in the office sector, 0.6 point in industrial real estate, 0.7 point in the retail sector and 0.9 percentage point in the multifamily rental market.

The Society of Industrial and Office Realtors®, in its SIOR Commercial Real Estate Index, an attitudinal survey of 266 local market experts,1 shows an erosion in market conditions. All regions posted declines except the West.

The SIOR index, measuring the impact of 10 variables, declined 2.6 percentage points to 54.9 in the second quarter, following a strong gain of 6.8 percentage points in the first quarter.

The SIOR index remains well below the level of 100 that represents a balanced marketplace, but had seen six consecutive quarterly improvements prior to last quarter’s decline. The last time the index was at 100 was in the third quarter of 2007.

Fundamentals are largely unchanged, with vacancy rates relatively flat. Eight out of 10 respondents said office and industrial leasing activity is below historic levels, and seven out of 10 said asking rents are below a year ago. It remains a tenant’s market, with many tenants benefiting from moderate concessions and rent discounts.

Construction activity is nearly nonexistent in most areas, and it is a buyer’s market for development acquisitions. Local experts said commercial office and industrial prices are below construction costs in 83 percent of markets.

NAR’s latest COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE OUTLOOK2 offers projections for four major commercial sectors and analyzes quarterly data in the office, industrial, retail and multifamily markets. Historic data for metro areas were provided by REIS, Inc.,3 a source of commercial real estate performance information.

Office Markets

Vacancy rates in the office sector are forecast to fall from 16.6 percent in the third quarter of this year to 16.3 percent in the third quarter of 2012.

The markets with the lowest office vacancy rates currently are Washington, D.C., with a vacancy rate of 8.6 percent; New York City, at 10.1 percent; and Long Island, N.Y., 13.0 percent.

Office rents are expected to rise 0.8 percent in 2011 and another 1.5 percent next year. Net absorption of office space in the U.S., which includes the leasing of new space coming on the market as well as space in existing properties, is projected to be 28.3 million square feet this year.

Industrial Markets

Industrial vacancy rates are likely to decline from 12.7 percent in the current quarter to 12.1 percent in the third quarter of 2012.

At present, the areas with the lowest industrial vacancy rates are Los Angeles, with a vacancy rate of 5.5 percent; Orange County, Calif., 6.2 percent; and Miami at 8.9 percent.

Annual industrial rent is expected decline 0.9 percent this year before rising 2.0 percent in 2012. Net absorption of industrial space nationally should be 47.8 million square feet this year.

Retail Markets

Retail vacancy rates are projected to decline from 12.9 percent in the third quarter of this year to 12.2 percent in the third quarter of 2012.

Markets with the lowest retail vacancy rates currently include San Francisco, 3.8 percent; Northern New Jersey, 6.1 percent; and three markets at 6.4 percent each: Los Angeles; Long Island, N.Y.; and San Jose, Calif.

Average retail rent is forecast to decline 0.4 percent this year, and then rise 0.7 percent in 2012. Net absorption of retail space is seen at 5.6 million square feet this year.

Multifamily Markets

The apartment rental market – multifamily housing – should see vacancy rates drop from 5.5 percent in the current quarter to 4.6 percent in the third quarter of 2012. Apartment vacancies below 5 percent generally are considered a landlord’s market.

Areas with the lowest multifamily vacancy rates presently are Minneapolis, 2.5 percent; New York City, 2.8 percent; and Portland, Ore., at 2.9 percent.

Multifamily net absorption is likely to be 237,700 units this year.

The COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE OUTLOOK is published by the NAR Research Division for the commercial community. NAR’s Commercial Division, formed in 1990, provides targeted products and services to meet the needs of the commercial market and constituency within NAR.

The NAR commercial components include commercial members; commercial committees, subcommittees and forums; commercial real estate boards and structures; and the NAR commercial affiliate organizations – CCIM Institute, Institute of Real Estate Management, Realtors® Land Institute, Society of Industrial and Office Realtors®, and Counselors of Real Estate.

Approximately 79,000 NAR and institute affiliate members specialize in commercial brokerage services, and an additional 171,000 members offer commercial real estate as a secondary business.

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1.1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

Real Estate Closings Continue to Decline

Real Estate Closings Continue to Decline

Real Estate Closings Continue to Decline-Image via Wikipedia

Pending home sales declined in July but remain well above year-ago levels, according to the National Association of Realtors®. All regions show monthly declines except for the West, which continues to show the highest level of sales contract activity.

The Pending Home Sales Index,* a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, slipped 1.3 percent to 89.7 in July from 90.9 in June but is 14.4 percent above the 78.4 index in July 2010. The data reflects contracts but not closings.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said sales activity is underperforming. “The market can easily move into a healthy expansion if mortgage underwriting standards return to normalcy,” he said. “We also need to be mindful that not all sales contracts are leading to closed existing-home sales. Other market frictions need to be addressed, such as assuring that proper comparables are used in appraisal valuations, and streamlining the short sales process.”

The PHSI in the Northeast declined 2.0 percent to 67.5 in July but is 9.7 percent above July 2010. In the Midwest the index slipped 0.8 percent to 79.1 in July but is 18.8 percent above a year ago. Pending home sales in the South fell 4.8 percent to an index of 94.4 but are 9.5 percent higher than July 2010. In the West the index rose 3.6 percent to 110.8 in July and is 20.6 percent above a year ago.

“Looking at pending home sales over a longer span, contract activity over the past three months is fairly comparable to the first three months of the year, and well above the low seen in April,” Yun said. “The underlying factors for improving sales are developing, such as rising rents, record high affordability conditions and investors buying real estate as a future inflation hedge. It is now a question of lending standards and consumers having the necessary confidence to enter the market.”

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1.1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

Housing Market Stability Key to Economic Recovery-NAR

Housing Market Stability Key to Economic Recovery-NAR-Image by Getty Images via @daylife

To help develop policies that will stabilize the nation’s housing market and support an economic recovery, the National Association of Realtors® urges the White House to host a summit of policy makers, industry leaders and government stake holders focused on revitalizing the nation’s housing.

“As the leading advocate for housing issues, Realtors® know that home ownership supports our nation’s economy,” said NAR President Ron Phipps, broker-president of Phipps Realty in Warwick, R.I. “Housing and home ownership issues affect all Americans, which is why we need strong policies that will help stabilize the housing market and lead the way out of today’s economic struggles.”

A housing recovery is key to America’s economic strength, and NAR wants to make sure that proposed legislation and regulatory rules or changes to current programs and incentives don’t further exacerbate problems within fragile real estate markets across the country.

A broad discussion among all stakeholders about what needs to be done to put the housing market and economy on a path to recovery could provide valuable recommendations and solutions to promote responsible, sustainable home ownership and stabilize and revitalize the housing industry and economy.

“Realtors® look forward to coming together and working with President Obama and his administration as well as our industry partners to design a housing recovery plan that will serve our nation, its 75 million home owners and indeed all Americans today and into the future,” said Phipps.

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1.1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

 

Mortgage Interest Deduction Vital to Housing Market Stability-NAR

Mortgage Interest Deduction Vital to Housing Market Stability-NAR-Image by Getty Images via @daylife

Any changes to the mortgage interest deduction now or in the future could threaten recent progress toward stabilizing the housing market, critically erode home prices and values, destroy middle-class wealth accumulation and hurt economic growth.

That was the message delivered by National Association of Realtors® NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun during today’s Rethinking the Mortgage Interest Deduction forum, where he joined a panel of experts to debate the future of the MID. The event was hosted by the Tax Policy Center, a joint venture of the Urban Institute and Brookings Institute, and the Reason Foundation.

“As the leading advocate for housing and homeownership, NAR firmly believes that the mortgage interest deduction is vital to the stability of the American housing market and economy,” said Yun. “The MID facilitates home ownership by reducing the carrying costs of owning a home, and it makes a real difference to hard-working middle-class families.”

Yun argued that now is the worst possible time to discuss changing the tax laws, which could further impair the housing market’s fragile recovery and a broader job market recovery.

“One thing that is indisputable is that eliminating the MID will lower the homeownership rate in the U.S.,” he said. “While we must ensure that the conditions that led to the artificially inflated home ownership rate of the bubble years do not resurface, we also need to create the conditions for sustainable home ownership, which has been shown to provide myriad social benefits for families and communities.”

During the debate, Yun challenged recent proposals calling for changes to the tax code, stating that it’s a misplaced argument to say the MID was a cause of the housing market bubble and is suddenly part of the deficit problem, when it’s been part of the federal tax code for more than 100 years.

Reducing or eliminating the MID is a de facto tax increase on homeowners, who already pay 80 to 90 percent of U.S. federal income tax. Yun said the share could rise to 95 percent if the MID is eliminated.

“Doing away with the MID shouldn’t be thought of as removing a tax break for homeowners, but rather increasing taxes on the middle class,” he said. “Furthermore, housing equity has been a major source of funds for small businesses, and any change to the MID will greatly hamper their ability to create jobs.”

Yun also asserted that it’s a misconception that only the wealthy benefit from the MID, when in reality it benefits primarily middle- and lower income families. Almost two-thirds of those who claim the MID are middle-income earners and 91 percent of people who claim the MID earn less than $200,000 per year.

Other panelists at the Rethinking the Mortgage Interest Deduction forum were Seth Hanton, director of fiscal policy, Center for American Progress; Dean Stansel, adjunct fellow, Reason Foundation; and Eric Toder, institute fellow, Urban Institute, and co-director of the Tax Policy Center. The event was moderated by Edmund Andrews, managing editor for economics, taxes and budget at the National Journal.

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1.1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

Home Buyers Backing Out of More Deals

Home Buyers Backing Out of More Deals

Home Buyers Backing Out of More Deals-Image by Getty Images via @daylife

Existing-home sales eased in June as contract cancellations spiked unexpectedly, although prices were up slightly, according to the National Association of Realtors®.

Sales gains in the Midwest and South were offset by declines in the Northeast and West. Single-family home sales were stable while the condo sector weakened.

Total existing-home sales1, which are completed transactions that include single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, declined 0.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.77 million in June from 4.81 million in May, and remain 8.8 percent below the 5.23 million unit level in June 2010, which was the scheduled closing deadline for the home buyer tax credit.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said this is an uneven recovery. “Home sales had been trending up without a tax stimulus, but a variety of issues are weighing on the market including an unusual spike in contract cancellations in the past month,” he said. “The underlying reason for elevated cancellations is unclear, but with problems including tight credit and low appraisals, 16 percent of NAR members report a sales contract was cancelled in June, up from 4 percent in May, which stands out in contrast with the pattern over the past year.”

Yun cited other factors in the sales performance. “Pending home sales were down in April but up in May, so we may be seeing some of that mix in closed sales for June. However, economic uncertainty and the federal budget debacle may be causing hesitation among some consumers or lenders.”

The national median existing-home price2 for all housing types was $184,300 in June, up 0.8 percent from June 2010. Distressed homes3 – foreclosures and short sales generally sold at deep discounts – accounted for 30 percent of sales in June, compared with 31 percent in May and 32 percent in June 2010.

According to Freddie Mac, the national average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage was 4.51 percent in June, down from 4.64 percent in May; the rate was 4.74 percent in June 2010.

NAR President Ron Phipps, broker-president of Phipps Realty in Warwick, R.I., said home sales should be higher. “With record high housing affordability conditions thus far in 2011, we’d normally expect to see stronger home sales,” he said. “Even with job creation below expectations, excessively tight loan standards are keeping many buyers from completing deals. Although proposals being considered in Washington could effectively put more restrictions on lending, some banking executives have hinted that credit may return to more normal, safe standards in the not-too-distant future, but the tardiness of this process is holding back the recovery.”

Phipps added that lower mortgage loan limits, due to go into effect on October 1, already are having an impact. “Some lenders are placing lower loan limits on current contracts in anticipation they may not close before the end of September. As a result, some contracts may be getting cancelled because certain buyers are unwilling or unable to obtain a more costly jumbo mortgage,” he said.

Total housing inventory at the end of June rose 3.3 percent to 3.77 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 9.5-month supply4 at the current sales pace, up from a 9.1-month supply in May.

All-cash transactions accounted for 29 percent of sales in June; they were 30 percent in May and 24 percent in June 2010; investors account for the bulk of cash purchases.

First-time buyers purchased 31 percent of homes in June, down from 36 percent in May; they were 43 percent in June 2010 when the tax credit was in place. Investors accounted for 19 percent of purchase activity in June, unchanged from May; they were 13 percent in June 2010.

The balance of sales was to repeat buyers, which were a 50 percent market share in June, up from 45 percent in May, which appears to be a normal seasonal gain.

Single-family home sales were unchanged at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.24 million in June, but are 7.4 percent below a 4.58 million pace in June 2010. The median existing single-family home price was $184,600 in June, up 0.6 percent from a year ago.

Existing condominium and co-op sales fell 7.0 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 530,000 in June from 570,000 in May, and are 18.0 percent below the 646,000-unit level a year ago. The median existing condo price5 was $182,300 in June, up 1.8 percent from June 2010.

Regionally, existing-home sales in the Northeast fell 5.2 percent to an annual pace of 730,000 in June and are 17.0 percent below June 2010. The median price in the Northeast was $261,000, up 3.1 percent from a year ago.

Existing-home sales in the Midwest rose 1.0 percent in June to a pace of 1.04 million but are 14.0 percent below a year ago. The median price in the Midwest was $147,700, down 5.3 percent from June 2010.

In the South, existing-home sales increased 0.5 percent to an annual level of 1.86 million in June but are 5.6 percent below June 2010. The median price in the South was $159,100, down 0.1 percent from a year ago.

Existing-home sales in the West declined 1.7 percent to an annual pace of 1.14 million in June and are 2.6 percent below a year ago. The median price in the West was $240,400, up 9.5 percent from June 2010.

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1.1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

Housing Market Shows Some Positive Signs

Housing Market Shows Some Positive Signs

Housing Market Shows Some Positive Signs-Image by Gerard Stolk vers l’Assomption via Flickr

Pending home sales rose strongly in May with all regions experiencing gains from a year ago, pointing to higher housing activity in the second half of the year, according to the National Association of Realtors®.

The Pending Home Sales Index,* a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, rose 8.2 percent to 88.8 in May from an upwardly revised 82.1 in April and is 13.4 percent higher than the 78.3 reading in May 2010. The data reflects contracts but not closings, which normally occur with a lag time of one or two months.

This is the first time since April 2010 that contract activity was above year-ago levels, and the monthly gain was the strongest increase since last November when the index rose 10.6 percent.


Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said the improvement bodes well for home prices. “Absorption of inventory is the key to price improvement, and this solid gain in contract signings implies that home values in many localities are or will soon be stabilizing as inventories get absorbed at a faster pace,” he said. “Some markets have made a rapid turnaround, going from soft activity to contract signings rising by more than 30 percent from a year ago, including areas such as Hartford, Conn.; Indianapolis; Minneapolis; Houston; and Seattle.”

Pending home sales have trended up unevenly since bottoming last June, rising in seven of the past 11 months. “Home sales still could be 15 to 20 percent higher,” Yun said. “If banks would simply return to normal sound underwriting standards and begin lending to more creditworthy borrowers, we’d get a much faster recovery in the housing sector.”

“In addition, a nonsensical situation has developed recently in some states with HUD unable to complete foreclosure deals because of insufficient funds to pay attorney fees at closing, even with buyers offering the full listing price,” Yun added.

The PHSI in the Northeast rose 7.3 percent to 69.2 in May and is 4.4 percent above a year ago. In the Midwest the index jumped 10.5 percent to 82.8 and is 17.2 percent higher than May 2010. Pending home sales in the South increased 4.1 percent to an index of 95.0 in May and are 14.6 percent higher than a year ago. In the West the index surged 12.9 percent to 100.6 and is 13.5 percent above May 2010.

Yun cautioned that healthy job creation is necessary to ensure a solid recovery in both housing and the overall economy. “The job market has sputtered recently, and because variations in local job creation impact housing demand, markets will recover unevenly around the country,” he said.

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1.1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

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