Home values rise for first time in 5 years – Sarasota, FL contributes to this event!

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Home prices hit a bottom and are finally bouncing back, according to an industry report released Tuesday.

Nationwide, home values rose 0.2% year-over-year to a median $149,300 during the second quarter, the first annual increase since 2007, real estate listing site Zillow reported. Prices were up 2.1% from the first quarter.

Even though June marked the fourth consecutive month of home value increases, overall home prices are still down almost 24% since April 2007, when Zillow began to track home values.

“[I]t seems clear that the country has hit a bottom in home values,” said Zillow’s chief economist Stan Humphries. “The housing recovery is holding together despite lower-than-expected job growth, indicating that it has some organic strength of its own.”

Last winter, Zillow projected that the housing market turnaround would not arrive until the end of the year.

Other home price indexes have also recorded gains lately, including the S&P/Case-Shiller home price index. In it latest release, it reported that home prices in 20 major markets rose 1.3% in April, the first monthly increase in seven months.

Zillow uses a different methodology in calculating home values than other home price indexes like Case-Shiller and the Federal Housing Finance Agency. Sales of foreclosed, bank-owned properties, for example, are not factored into Zillow’s data. Zillow does include short sales, however, which are more difficult to distinguish from conventional sales.

“Our index is geared to consumers, conventional sellers deciding whether they want to put their homes on the market,” said Humphries.

The indexes that include foreclosures in their market data show larger price declines. The peak-to-trough drop for the S&P/Case-Shiller home price index, for example, is about 34% compared with Zillow’s 24%.

Fewer than one third of the 167 metro areas Zillow surveyed recorded annual increases in home values, but the size of the price gains in these areas more than offset the losses posted by the remaining two-thirds of the markets.

In Phoenix, the biggest gainer, home values soared 12.1% year-over-year to a median of $136,200. Meanwhile, the biggest loss sustained by any of the 30 largest metro areas was in Chicago where median home values fell 5.8% to $158,600.

Foreclosures remain one of the biggest risks to the housing market recovery, Humphries said. In the wake of the national foreclosure settlement which clarified how banks can legally pursue foreclosures, Humphries expects the pace of foreclosures to pick up.

“That will translate to more homes on the market,” he said. “But we think demand will rise to absorb that.”

Zillow expects the housing market to continue to slowly recover, with median home values projected to climb 1.1% — relatively flat — over the next 12 months.

Beaten down markets like Phoenix, Las Vegas and many Florida cities, will likely record greater-than-average gains over the next 12 months, said Humphries.

The results in those places, however, will be bumpy. Home price increases will cause some homeowners who have been patiently waiting for values to rebound to put their homes on the market. And those additional listings could cool prices for a while, resulting in a staircase effect with “price spikes followed by plateaus,” said Humphries.

By Les Christie @CNNMoneyJuly 24, 2012: 5:16 AM ET

Housing Passes a Milestone – Sarasota Real Estate Contributes Greatly

www.wallstreetjournal.com 12-JUL-12

The housing market has turned—at last.

The U.S. finally has moved beyond attention-grabbing predictions from housing “experts” that housing is bottoming. The numbers are now convincing.

Nearly seven years after the housing bubble burst, most indexes of house prices are bending up. “We finally saw some rising home prices,” S&P’s David Blitzer said a few weeks ago as he reported the first monthly increase in the slow-moving S&P/Case-Shiller house-price data after seven months of declines.

The U.S. finally has moved beyond attention-grabbing predictions from housing “experts” that housing is bottoming. The numbers are now convincing, according to David Wessel on The News Hub. (Photo: Bloomberg News)

Nearly 10% more existing homes were sold in May than in the same month a year earlier, many purchased by investors who plan to rent them for now and sell them later, an important sign of an inflection point. In something of a surprise, the inventory of existing homes for sale has fallen close to the normal level of six months’ worth despite all the foreclosed homes that lenders own. The fraction of homes that are vacant is at its lowest level since 2006.

The reduced inventory of unsold homes is key, says Mark Fleming, chief economist at CoreLogic, a housing data-analysis firm. For the past couple of years, house prices have risen in the spring and then slumped; the declining supply of houses for sale is reason to believe that won’t happen again this year, he says.

Builders began work on 26% more single-family homes in May 2012 than the depressed levels of May 2011. The stock of unsold newly built homes is back to 2005 levels. In each of the past four quarters, housing construction has added to economic growth. In the first quarter, it accounted for 0.4 percentage points of the meager 1.9% growth rate.

“Even with the overall economy slowing,” Wells Fargo Securities economists said, cautiously, in a note to clients, “the budding recovery in the housing market appears to be gradually gaining momentum.”

Economists aren’t always right, but on this at least they agree: A new Wall Street Journal survey of forecasters found 44 believe the housing market has reached its bottom; only three don’t. (The full results of the Journal’s July survey will be released at 2pm ET)

Housing is still far from healthy despite the Federal Reserve’s efforts to resuscitate it by helping to push mortgage rates to extraordinary lows: 3.62% for a 30-year loan, according to Freddie Mac’s latest survey. Single-family housing starts, though up, remain 60% below the 2002 pre-bubble pace. Americans’ equity in homes is $2 trillion, or 25%, less than it was in 2002 and half what it was at the peak. More than one in every four mortgage borrowers still has a loan bigger than the value of the house, though rising home prices are reducing that fraction slowly.

Still, the upturn in housing is a milestone, a particularly welcome one amid a distressing dearth of jobs. For some time, housing has been one of the biggest causes of economic weakness. It has now—barely—moved to the plus side. “A little tail wind is a lot better than a headwind,” says economist Chip Case, the “Case” in Case-Shiller.

From here on, housing is unlikely to drag the U.S. economy down further. It will instead reflect the strength or weakness of the overall economy: The more jobs, the more confident Americans are about keeping their jobs, the more they are willing to buy houses. “Manufacturing had led growth and construction had lagged,” JPMorgan Chase economists said last week.”Now the roles are reversed: Manufacturing growth has slowed as private construction comes to life.”

Plenty could go wrong. The biggest threat is a large shadow inventory of unsold homes, homes which owners won’t put on the market because they are underwater, homes that will be foreclosed eventually and homes owned by lenders. They have been trickling onto the market, slowed in part by government efforts to delay foreclosures; a flood could reverse the recent rise in prices. Or the still-dysfunctional mortgage market could get worse. Or overly zealous regulators or a post-election change in government policy could unsettle mortgage lenders or home buyers.

But the housing bust is over

David Wessel wsj.com

5 biggest mistakes homebuyers make


MIAMI – June 27, 2012 – Common pitfalls trip up some homebuyers when purchasing a home. Make sure clients don’t fall for one. Credit.com recently featured some of the biggest mistakes:
1. Trying to fix credit scores before buying a home. Homebuyers can do more harm than good if they don’t consult a financial expert first. “Even paying down credit card balances – which is a good thing as far as your credit scores and debt ratios are concerned – could be a problem if it leaves you short the cash you need to qualify to get the loan,” says Gerri Detweiler, Credit.com’s personal finance expert.
2. Not considering the future enough in their selection. Buyers should consider what they want out of a house five or 10 years down the road. Do they plan to expand their family? If so, they may need a bigger home and want a different location. Also, how long do they plan on staying at the home? That can help determine the most sensible mortgage.
3. Failing to research financing enough. First comes the home and then the financing? Not in today’s market. Home shoppers should get prequalified for a mortgage before they start shopping so they know what they can afford. “The time to make decisions about your mortgage needs is not during this 10-day window” after you sign a contract, says Keith Gumbinger, vice president of HSH.com. “At most, this is time to shop for rates and fees and such. He says a credit evaluation, selection of mortgage type and a preferred lender should be completed “well in advance of even wandering through the market looking at houses.”
4. Assuming that the Good Faith Estimate is the amount paid at closing. The form lenders provide that estimates closing costs is not set in stone. Closing costs may actually be more, so buyers need to be prepared. Closing costs generally are about 3 percent to 5 percent of the loan amount. “Shop around and compare the Good Faith Estimate provided by the lender with that of two or three other lenders,” suggests Ryan Himmel, a CPA and founder of BIDaWIZ, a tax advice resource. “If there is a significant disparity in estimates, then request an explanation from the lender to determine if you would like to move forward.”
5. Failing to budget for home expenses. Budgeting to purchase a home isn’t enough. Prospective homeowners would be wise to not forget to budget for maintaining the home too. New homeowners should budget for an increase in utility bills as well as for future maintenance and repair costs, such as repairing a furnace or roof.
Source: “10 Mistakes New Homebuyers Make,” Credit.com (2012)
© Copyright 2012 INFORMATION, INC. Bethesda, MD (301) 215-4688

U.S. housing market shows signs of turnaround


CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – June 15, 2012 – Housing markets are showing signs of reviving, according to The State of the Nation’s Housing report, released this week by the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University.
“While still in the early innings of a housing recovery, rental markets have turned the corner, home sales are strengthening, and a floor is beginning to form under home prices,” said Eric S. Belsky, managing director of the Joint Center for Housing Studies. “With new home inventories at record lows, unless the broader economy goes into a tailspin, stronger sales should further stabilize prices and pave the way for a pickup in single-family housing construction over the course of 2012.”
Rental markets are on the mend thanks to sharp drops in construction and an increase of over 4.4 million renters since 2005. Rental vacancy rates are falling, rents are increasing, and multifamily construction is up solidly. In contrast, the nation’s homeownership rate continues to slide.
“Surveys consistently find that the overwhelming majority of young adults plan to own a home in the future, but many would-be buyers have stayed on the sidelines waiting for the job outlook to improve and house prices to stop falling,” said Belsky. “But as markets tighten, these fence-sitters may begin to take advantage of today’s lower home prices and unusually low mortgage rates. With rents up, home prices sharply down, and mortgage interest rates at record lows, monthly mortgage costs relative to monthly rents haven’t been this favorable since the early 1970s.”

CoreLogic: Home prices up for 2nd month

SANTA ANA, Calif. – June 5, 2012 – CoreLogic released its April Home Price Index (HPI) report today. Nationwide, home prices, including distressed sales, increased on a year-over-year basis by 1.1 percent in April 2012 compared to April 2011 – the second consecutive year-over-year increase this year, and the first time two consecutive increases have occurred since June 2010.
On a month-over-month basis, home prices, including distressed sales, increased by 2.2 percent in April 2012 compared to March – the second consecutive month-over-month increase this year.
When distressed sales are backed out of the numbers, prices increased 2.6 percent in month-to-month for the third time in a row. Year-over-year prices, excluding distressed sales, rose by 1.9 percent. Distressed sales include short sales and real estate owned (REO) transactions.
CoreLogic also introduced a new metric – the CoreLogic Pending HPI. The Pending HPI indicates that house prices will rise by at least another 2 percent, from April to May. Pending HPI is based on Multiple Listing Service (MLS) data that measure price changes in the most recent month.

USA: Pending home sales down in April but up strongly from a year ago


WASHINGTON – May 30, 2012 – Following three consecutive monthly gains, pending home sales retrenched in April, but are notably 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 5.5 percent to 95.5 from a downwardly revised 101.1 in March but is 14.4 percent above April 2011 when it was 83.5. The data reflects contracts but not closings.
NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said a one-month setback in light of many months of gains does not change the fundamentally improving housing market conditions. “Home contract activity has been above year-ago levels now for 12 consecutive months. The housing recovery momentum continues,” he said.
Yun notes home sales are staying well above the levels seen from 2008 through 2011. “Housing market activity has clearly broken out at notably higher levels and is on track to see the best performance since 2007,” he said. “All of the major housing market indicators are expected to trend gradually up, but a new federal budget must be passed before the end of the year for the economy to continue to move forward.”

Florida: Top 5 in Nation for Annual Price Increase in April

Government: First house price increase since 2007


WASHINGTON – May 23, 2012 – U.S. house prices rose 0.6 percent in the first quarter of 2012 according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s (FHFA) seasonally adjusted purchase-only house price index (HPI).
HPI price changes are generally smaller than other indicators because they’re based on same-home selling prices for homes under government-owned Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The purchase-only index is based on more than 6 million repeat sales transactions.
Comparing year-to-year, the seasonally adjusted house prices rose 0.5 percent compared to first quarter 2011.
Comparing month-to-month, FHFA’s seasonally adjusted monthly index for March was up 1.8 percent from February.
“Consistent with other housing market indicators, the FHFA HPI showed stronger house prices in the first quarter, most notably in March,” says FHFA Principal Economist Andrew Leventis. “Increased affordability and a somewhat smaller inventory of homes for sale are positively impacting house prices.”
• The seasonally adjusted purchase-only HPI rose in the first quarter in 30 states and the District of Columbia.
• The top five annual increases were Hawaii (10.3 percent), Washington, DC (9.8 percent), Iowa (5.7 percent), Florida (4.7 percent) and North Dakota (4.4 percent).
• Of the nine census divisions, the Mountain division experienced the strongest prices in the latest quarter, posting a 1.4 percent increase. Prices were weakest in the New England division, where prices fell -0.7 percent.

April 2012 Sarasota RE Market Results

April 2012 sales hit a new seven-year high

There seems to be no stopping the Sarasota real estate market! April 2012 saw yet another seven-year high for monthly sales, hitting 886 total closed transactions. The figure topped last month’s 831 sales by 6.6 percent. It was the highest number of sales since August 2005, and when there were 908 total sales.

The breakdown was 589 single family home sales and 297 condo sales. Last April, the totals were 546 homes and 226 condos for a total of 759 overall sales, so the jump was about 17 percent year-to-year.

In addition, pending sales (which represent properties that went under contract during the month) remained very high at 1,068, the third straight month that topped 1,000, and a major indicator of the future direction of the market. Last year’s spring surge didn’t slow down until July, and the numbers seem to indicate there remains strength in the current market dynamics.

“We’ve had an incredible string of positive numbers in the Sarasota real estate market, and we hope for a consistently strong market going forward,” said SAR President Laura Benson. “I’m hopeful that this will be the case, because we seem to be leading the nation into the real estate market recovery. The national economy continues to improve, employment numbers are better, and we’re in the perfect marketplace in Sarasota.”

In addition to the amazingly high level of sales, the median sale price for both categories remained at the highest levels of the year in April. The median sale price for condos was $191,750, almost identical to the March figure of $192,000, a level not seen since May 2011. Single family was at $175,000, just above last month’s figure of $174,900, and a level not reached since June 2011. Single family home prices remain at a level 21.4 percent higher than the low of the market reached 13 months ago, while condo prices are almost 30 percent higher than the low point.

The reason for the price resurgence is likely tied to the lower number of distressed property sales. The total number of distressed sales, foreclosures and short sales, fell to only 31 percent, down slightly from last month’s 32 percent figure – a new three-year low.

Currently, only 621 properties for sale in the MLS are short sales or foreclosures, down from last month’s figure of 701 properties. This represents about 14 percent of available properties, down from last month’s 15 percent figure. In February 2012, the number was 740 (16 percent of the market), and in January 2012 it was 812 (17 percent of the market). If this percentage continues to trend lower, we could begin to see median sales price increases going forward.

The available inventory of homes on the market dropped to a new decade low of 4,283, even lower than the previous low of 4,408 seen in August 2011. The combination of high sales and low inventory has also dropped the months of inventory to near decade lows. The market now reflects a figure of 4.7 months of inventory for single family homes and 5.1 months inventory for condos. Months of inventory represents the time it would take to deplete the current inventory at the current sales rate. Lower inventory and higher sales normally result in greater competition for available properties, which tends to push prices up.

“The decline in the available inventory has been remarkable, and competition for homes and condos generally creates upward price pressure,” said Benson. “Buyers and potential buyers should understand that the current market scenario is clear – if you wait, you will miss out. We’re at a decade low for inventory, the mortgage interest rates are at the lowest level since the 1950s, and Sarasota remains the nation’s perfect place to relocate.”

Benson continued, “Every number indicates that we are seeing the virtual opposite of a perfect storm in local real estate. I would call this the perfect opportunity – a market in strong recovery, prices still very low compared to the price surge of 2003-2005, and interest rates at record lows. And SAR Realtor® members are certainly ready to help buyers and sellers achieve their dreams.”


U.S. housing st…

U.S. housing starts rose to 717,000 in April


WASHINGTON (AP) – May 16, 2012 – U.S. builders began work on more homes last month, evidence that the battered housing market is slowly healing.
The Commerce Department said Wednesday that builders broke ground at a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 717,000 homes in April from March. That’s 2.6 percent more than March’s total, which was revised higher. Construction rose for both single-family homes and apartments.
Building permits, a gauge of future construction, fell last month from a 3½ year high to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 715,000. But that was because of a 23 percent drop in the volatile apartment category. Permits for single-family homes rose almost 2 percent.
Even with the gains, the rate of construction and the level of permits requested remain roughly half the pace considered healthy. But the increase, along with rising builder confidence and stronger job growth, is a hopeful sign that the home market may finally be starting to recover nearly five years after the housing bubble burst.
Builders have grown more confident since last fall, in part because more people have expressed interest in buying a home. In May, builder optimism rose to the highest level in five years, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment index.
Homebuilders reported improving sales and higher traffic from prospective buyers, the survey showed. A gauge measuring confidence in sales over the next six months also rose to 34 from 31.
Recent job gains have likely made it easier for more Americans to purchase a home. Employers have added 1 million jobs in the past five months. And unemployment has dropped a full percentage point since August, from 9.1 percent to 8.1 percent in April.
Mortgage rates, meanwhile, have fallen to record lows, making homebuying more affordable. Still, many would-be buyers are having difficulty qualifying for home loans or can’t afford larger downpayments required by banks.
Though new homes represent just 20 percent of the overall home market, they have an outsize impact on the economy. Each home built creates an average of three jobs for a year and generates about $90,000 in taxes, according to the National Association of Home Builders.
There are some hurdles to a smooth recovery: Builders are struggling to compete with deeply discounted foreclosures and short sales – when lenders allow homes to be sold for less than what’s owed on the mortgage.
Another reason sales have fallen is that previously occupied homes have become a better deal than new homes. The median price of a new home is about 30 percent higher than the median price for a re-sale. That’s nearly twice the markup typical in a healthy housing market. AP Logo Copyright © 2012 The Associated Press, Christopher S. Rugaber, AP economics writer.

U.S. rate on 30-year mortgages jumps above 4.0%

WASHINGTON – March 23, 2012 – The average U.S. rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage rose above 4 percent for the first time in five months. The sharp increase suggests the window to buy or refinance a home at historically low rates is closing.
Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the rate on the 30-year loan jumped to 4.08 percent, up from 3.92 percent the previous week. A month ago, it touched 3.87 percent, the lowest since long-term mortgages began in the 1950s.
The average on the 15-year fixed mortgage rose to 3.30 percent, up from 3.16 percent last week and a record low of 3.13 percent two weeks ago.
Mortgage rates are rising because they tend to track the yield on the 10-year Treasury note. The economic outlook has improved in recent weeks, leading investors to shift money out of long-term U.S. Treasury bonds and into stocks. That has driven Treasury yields higher.