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; Anaheim–Santa 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; Youngstown–Warren–Boardman, 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.”
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, email@example.com
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Investment conditions have improved modestly across all property sectors, while property values remain flat and transaction volumes have decreased. These results were released today by CCIM Institute (www.ccim.com), one of the largest commercial real estate networks in the world, following a national third-quarter survey of CCIM members conducted by Real Estate Research Corp. (RERC).
Slow economic growth, high unemployment and anticipated federal tax increases are factors that continue to negatively impact the commercial investment environment, based on the report. The climate remains challenging for commercial real estate investors, who struggle to find viable opportunities in a slow-growth environment. A small silver lining – commercial real estate remains a reasonable and sturdy investment choice for investors seeking realistic returns and minimal volatility, according to CCIM members.
“Returns on investment income from commercial real estate can still be achieved over time for those with patience. There are plenty of investors seeking to avoid the volatility of the stock market, and who require higher yields than those offered by bonds and cash investments,” said Kenneth P. Riggs Jr., CCIM, CRE, MAI, chief real estate economist for the CCIM Institute and chairman and president of Real Estate Research Corp. “Commercial real estate is a good alternative for such investors, particularly those who are looking for income in a slow economy.”
Investment Conditions Improve
Investment condition ratings for all property types – office, industrial, retail, apartments and hotel – improved during third-quarter 2012, with the apartment sector receiving the highest score, at 7.6 on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being highest. The hotel and industrial sectors’ ratings rose to 5.9 and 5.6, respectively, followed by the 5.4 rating for the retail sector. The office sector investment rating rose to 4.8.
CCIM members said that the best investment strategies in this environment include buying low, keeping cash on hand for future opportunities and investing in foreclosed or distressed properties. Members also suggest looking long term and advise patience when investing.
Return vs. Risk and Value vs. Price Ratings Rise
CCIM members raised the return-versus-risk ratings and value-versus-price ratings for all property types and for commercial real estate overall during third-quarter 2012.
Specifically, the overall return-versus-risk rating for commercial real estate increased to 5.5 during third-quarter 2012, according to CCIM members. Likewise, the return-versus-risk ratings for all of the property types increased. At 7.2, the apartment sector earned the highest rating. The industrial sector rating, at 5.7, pulled away from the hotel sector rating of 5.6. The rating for the retail sector increased to 5.3, while the office sector rating remained the lowest, at 4.9, during third quarter.
CCIM members noted that the value-versus-price for commercial real estate increased during third-quarter 2012, with the overall value-versus-price rating increasing to 5.6. Although the overall value of commercial real estate improved only slightly, the value-versus-price ratings also increased for every property sector. The industrial sector rating increased to 5.6, and retained the highest rating among the property sectors. Similarly, while the retail sector’s rating rose to 5.3, the ratings for the office and apartment sectors each increased to 5.2. At 5.1, the hotel sector rating also increased, although the rating remained the lowest compared to the other property types.
Property Values Remain Flat
While commercial real estate seems to be holding its own with respect to income performance, property values remain flat and transaction volume declined in third-quarter 2012.
On a 12-month basis, transaction volume for all property types decreased with the exception of the industrial sector volume, which increased slightly. More specifically:
- Hotel sector volume fell 25 percent.
- Office and retail sectors volume declined approximately 15 percent and 10 percent, respectively.
- Apartment sector volume decreased about 5 percent from the previous quarter.
“Get used to it, as this is the ‘new normal’ for the economy and we should expect this investment environment for the foreseeable future. The low-hanging fruit has been picked, and investors are adapting to the challenges we face. Risk-adjusted returns for commercial real estate are down from what we have seen, but fundamentals are steady and even improving slightly,” added Riggs. “With volume and prices for commercial properties flat or down on average (except for apartments) during third quarter, plus assurance from Bernanke that interest rates will be low until mid-2015, opportunities with reasonable prices may be found in increasing numbers of secondary and tertiary locations.”
Property Sector Highlights
Continuing a positive trend, the national vacancy rate for all property types continued to decline during third quarter 2012. Only the retail sector vacancy rate remained unchanged.
Other property sector highlights gleaned from the survey of CCIM members include:
- The apartment sector remained the safest and best investment compared to the other property types during third-quarter 2012.
- Compared to other property types, distressed and foreclosed office properties sold the best during third-quarter 2012.
- Industrial properties are currently underpriced. Members suggest that investors should buy low, lease at market value and hold. There is not much demand for industrial properties in the East region due to oversupply.
The complete survey findings can be found at http://www.ccim.com/resources/itq-fourth-quarter-2012-rercccim-investment-trends-quarterly
About the Survey Methodology
The analysis provided in the RERC/CCIM Investment Trends Quarterly is conducted by Real Estate Research Corp. (RERC). The information is gathered in raw form from surveys sent to CCIM designees and candidates, and from sales transactions collected from various sources, including CCIM members, various key commercial information exchange organizations (CIEs), the media, assessors’ offices, RERC contacts in the marketplace, and other reliable public and private resources. All sales transactions are aggregated, analyzed, and reported on by RERC. The RERC/CCIM Investment Trends Quarterly report provides timely insight into transaction volume, pricing, and capitalization rates for the core income-producing properties.
About the CCIM Institute
Since 1969, the Chicago-based CCIM Institute has conferred the Certified Commercial Investment Member (CCIM) designation to commercial real estate and allied professionals through an extensive curriculum of 200 classroom hours and professional experiential requirements. The core curriculum addresses financial analysis, market analysis, user decision analysis, investment analysis, and negotiation—the cornerstones of commercial investment real estate.
An affiliate of the National Association of Realtors®, the CCIM Institute also offers powerful technology tools such as the Site To Do Business, an online site analysis and demographics resource, and CCIMREDEX, a single-entry listing and data exchange. Currently, there are nearly 10,000 CCIMs in 1,000 markets in the U.S. and 31 additional countries, with another 6,000 practitioners pursuing the designation, making the institute the governing body of one of the largest commercial real estate networks in the world. Visit www.ccim.com, www.stdbonline.com, and www.ccimredex.com for more information.
CONTACT: Amie DeLuca, +1-630-315-2962, firstname.lastname@example.org
Pending sales, closed sales and median prices rose, while the inventory of homes and condos for sale dropped in Florida’s housing market in October, according to the latest housing data released by Florida Realtors®.
“With Thanksgiving just around the corner, we have a lot to be thankful for here in Florida,” said 2012 Florida Realtors President Summer Greene, regional manager of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Florida 1st in Fort Lauderdale. “The state’s latest unemployment rate fell to 8.5 percent, the lowest in nearly four years – and combined with the momentum of the housing market, it clearly shows that Florida is on a positive path and has been for months. Pending sales, closed sales and prices are trending up.”
Statewide closed sales of existing single-family homes totaled 17,779 in October, up 25.3 percent compared to the year-ago figure, according to data from Florida Realtors Industry Data and Analysis department and vendor partner 10K Research and Marketing. Closed sales typically occur 30 to 90 days after sales contracts are written.
Meanwhile, pending sales – contracts that are signed by not yet completed or closed – of existing single-family homes last month rose 56.7 percent over the previous October. The statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes in October was $145,000, up 9 percent from a year ago.
According to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR), the national median sales price for existing single-family homes in September 2012 was $184,300, up 11.4 percent from the previous year. In California, the statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes in September was $345,000; in Massachusetts, it was $294,900; in Maryland, it was $244,357; and in New York, it was $225,000.
The median is the midpoint; half the homes sold for more, half for less. Housing industry analysts note that sales of foreclosures and other distressed properties continue to downwardly distort the median price because they generally sell at a discount relative to traditional homes.
Looking at Florida’s year-to-year comparison for sales of townhomes-condos, a total of 8,252 units sold statewide last month, up 16.4 percent compared to October 2011. Meanwhile, pending sales for townhome-condos in October increased 47.1 percent compared to the year-ago figure. The statewide median for townhome-condo properties was $107,000, up 20.2 percent over the previous year. NAR reported that the national median existing condo price in September 2012 was $181,000.
The inventory for single-family homes stood at a 5.2-months’ supply in October; inventory for townhome-condo properties was also at a 5.2-months’ supply, according to Florida Realtors. Industry analysts note that a 5.5-months’ supply symbolically represents a market balanced between buyers and sellers.
“Once again, everything that should be going up in the market is going up, and everything that should be going down is going down,” said Florida Realtors Chief Economist Dr. John Tuccillo. “As impressive as the year-over-year gains for October are, far more impressive are year-to-date gains of 2012 over 2011. They indicate the depth and resilience of this recovery.”
The interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.38 percent in October 2012, down from the 4.07 percent averaged during the same month a year earlier, according to Freddie Mac.
To see the full statewide housing activity report, go to Florida Realtors Media Center at http://media.floridarealtors.org/ and look under Latest Releases, or download the October 2012 data report PDF under Market Data at: http://media.floridarealtors.org/market-data
Editor’s Note : Florida Realtors 2012 housing market data releases mark a new statewide data reporting partnership between Florida Realtors Industry Data and Analysis department and new vendor partner 10K Research and Marketing. Housing sales data from the state’s local Realtor organizations is collected and organized with the goal of providing unique, localized market reports to the local Realtor boards and associations within Florida Realtors, enabling the groups and their Realtor members to serve as the definitive voice of real estate in their respective local markets. At the same time, Florida Realtors is providing comprehensive statewide housing market statistics – but this new data series only refers to statewide data and does not include metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs).
Florida Realtors®, formerly known as the Florida Association of Realtors®, serves as the voice for real estate in Florida. It provides programs, services, continuing education, research and legislative representation to its 115,000 members in 63 boards/associations. Florida Realtors® Media Center website is available at http://media.floridarealtors.org .
CONTACT: Marla Martin, Communications Manager, +1-407-438-1400 ext. 2326; or Jeff Zipper, Vice President of Communications, +1-407-438-1400, ext. 2314
Web Site: http://www.media.floridarealtors.org
Anybody that’s been looking at foreclosures in the SW Florida area knows that the market had pretty much dried up for several months. The Banks had been holding on to their inventory because of the Robo-signing fiasco, but that seems to have changed. Some parts of SW Florida have seen home sales increase by up to 20% but prices are down. Some are blaming the Banks for dumping more properties on the market which in turn is driving prices down. Of course, if you’re in the market for a house, lower prices are obviously a good thing.
Home sales in Southwest Florida jumped by double digits in October but pushed pricing to near its Great Recession low.
The renewed push by banks on foreclosures and their rising use of short sales could be undercutting prices.
After clearing up some of their mortgage paperwork, big lenders operating in the region have been ramping up again on distressed properties. Some have been offering clients cash for short sales on their homes, where the lender takes less than is owed on the mortgage.
Sales rose 20 percent in the Sarasota-Bradenton market during October when compared with a year ago, with 801 homes changing hands.
But the median sales price dropped to $137,100, pushing the value to only slightly above its lowest point since the recession, $136,300. The September median was $156,800, so the October price represented a 13 percent drop from the previous month.
Sales also rose in the Charlotte County-North Port market, by 7 percent to 236 homes, while the median price of $90,000 was a 6 percent drop from a year ago and an 8 percent drop from September.
Around the state, sales rose 13 percent in Florida’s combined 19 major markets, with 12,145 homes changing hands.
The median price statewide saw a drop but not as pronounced as in this region. October’s $131,200 was a 4 percent drop from a year ago and a 2 percent decline from September.
If you’ve been sitting on the sidelines waiting for that good deal in Florida, now is probably the time to get out there and start making some offers. This could possibly be the bottom of the market and prices may not get any lower. Also, this is November and Winter is approaching quickly. They don’t call Florida the “Sunshine State” for nothing.
Realtors® stand ready to protect and defend opportunities for homeownership, and many of them have gathered here at the 2011 REALTORS® Conference & Expo to prepare for the challenges ahead.
During the opening session today at this week’s meetings, National Association of Realtors® President Ron Phipps outlined obstacles and opportunities facing the real estate industry.
“For the first time in generations, the American dream of homeownership is being threatened,” said Phipps, broker-president of Phipps Realty in Warwick, R.I. “We need to keep housing first on the nation’s public policy agenda, because housing and home ownership issues affect all Americans.”
NAR is actively advocating public policies that promote responsible, sustainable homeownership. Those include ensuring affordable, accessible financing; supporting tax policies that encourage homeownership; and helping more people stay in their homes or avoid foreclosure through streamlined short sales.
As Realtors® convene in California this week, conforming loan limits is one top-of-mind issue. On October 1, Congress allowed those limits to revert from 125 percent of the local area median home price to 115 percent of the local median home price. As a result, home buyers and sellers in 669 counties across 42 states and the District of Columbia have been affected. The lower limits mean that fewer people will have access to mortgage loans, and the loans that are available will be more expensive.
“Mortgage availability remains a real concern since the private market has yet to return,” said Phipps. “While the housing market is still in recovery, we firmly believe that lower loan limits will only further restrict liquidity in mortgage markets.”
NAR has urged Congress to reinstate the higher loan limits temporarily, and more than 200 members of Congress currently support efforts to reinstate these limits.
Session attendees also heard about the results of last month’s New Solutions for America’s Housing Crisis forum. The forum was hosted by the Progressive Policy Institute and Economic Policies for the 21st Century and brought together policy leaders, industry representatives, members of Congress, thought leaders and the media.
From this forum, NAR has endorsed a five-point housing solutions plan to help reenergize housing markets and spur the economic recovery.
“Many of the solutions that came out of this forum evolved from ideas that Realtors® have been advocating for several years,” said Phipps. “Realtors® and the families we work with, day in and day out, know that homeownership matters, and now, with our combined and continued efforts, we’re going to make sure that policymakers understand that, too.”
This year’s Realtors® Conference & Expo is expected to draw approximately 18,000 Realtors® and guests. More than 400 exhibitors are expected to participate in the Expo, which showcases the latest real estate products and innovations across various fields, including technology, data communications and financial programs and services.
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.
Owning a home has had long-standing government support in the U.S. because homeownership benefits individuals and families, strengthens communities, and is integral to the nation’s economy, the National Association of Realtors® said in testimony today.
NAR President-Elect Moe Veissi outlined the association’s recommendations for housing finance reform before the House Financial Services Subcommittee on International Monetary Policy and Trade.
“We must be better stewards of the U.S. housing finance system if it is to thrive and effectively serve American home buyers and mortgage investors into the future,” said Veissi, broker-owner of Veissi & Associates Inc., in Miami. “Repairs to our current housing finance structure must be made, but we must be careful that changes to the system do not come at the expense of homeownership opportunities for middle- and lower income Americans.”
Toward that end, NAR supports H.R. 2413, the “Secondary Market Facility for Residential Mortgage Act of 2011,” introduced by Reps. Gary Miller, R-Calif., and Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y.
“H.R. 2413 offers a comprehensive strategy for reforming the secondary mortgage market and gives the federal government a continued role to ensure a consistent flow of mortgage credit in all markets and all economic conditions,” said Veissi. “Moreover, it supports the use of long-term fixed-rate mortgage products.”
Veissi testified that full privatization of the secondary mortgage market would all but eliminate products like the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage and that mortgage interest rates would be unnecessarily higher and unaffordable for many Americans, shutting otherwise qualified buyers out of the market.
“The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is the bedrock of the U.S housing finance system, and without government support, there’s no evidence that this type of mortgage would continue to exist,” said Veissi. “Private firms’ business strategies would focus on optimizing their profits, creating mortgage products that are more aligned with the goals of their business than in the best interests of the nation’s housing policy or consumers.”
Veissi said that while the size of the government’s participation in housing finance should decrease if private capital is to return to the market and function properly, the federal government must have a continued role in the secondary mortgage market to avoid losing long-term, fixed-rate mortgage products and keep borrowing costs affordable for consumers.
“Continuing government participation in the secondary mortgage market is critical to ensuring that qualified home buyers can obtain safe and sound mortgage financing products even during market downturns, when private entities have historically pulled back,” Veissi said.
Recent reductions to the conforming loan limits by the federal government are already having an impact on mortgage liquidity according to early data from an NAR survey, which found that consumers who are now above the new lower conventional conforming loan limit are experiencing significantly higher interest rates and the need for substantially larger down payments.
Veissi said that the housing and economic recoveries have been slow and that activities that force economic activity to be constricted further should be resisted.
“For hundreds of years, this country has understood the value of homeownership because it helps families build wealth, supports community stability and contributes to our economy. We need to make sure that future housing policies continue to reinforce our long-standing value of homeownership, for the future of our families and our country,” said Veissi.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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 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 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.
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.