Sunday, March 5, 2017

CALIFORNIA PENDING HOME SALES DIP SLIGHTLY IN JANUARY; SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA MARKET CONTINUES TO OUTSHINE OTHER REGIONS


Following relatively strong closed escrow home sales over the past few months, California pending home sales slipped negligibly from a year ago, which suggests a softening in the housing market in the upcoming months, the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (C.A.R.) said.

Making sense of the story
• Based on signed contracts, statewide pending home sales decreased in January on a seasonally adjusted basis, with the Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI)* slipping 0.2 percent from 107.4 from January 2016 to 107.2 in January 2017. On a monthly basis, California pending home sales were down 9.2 percent from the December index of 118.0. 
• Only the Southern California region posted a year-over-year improvement in pending sales last month, rising 8.1 percent from January 2016 and increasing 10.5 percent on a monthly basis. Riverside County led the region in pending sales, posting a 16.2 percent increase from a year ago. Los Angeles, Orange, and San Diego counties also posted modest year-over-year increases of 7.1 percent, 8.0, and 4.0 percent, respectively. San Bernardino County was the only area within Southern California that saw pending sales lower on an annual basis by 2.8 percent.
• For the San Francisco Bay Area as a whole, tight housing supplies and low affordability contributed to a fall in pending sales of 9.7 percent compared to January 2016. Only San Mateo County posted an annual increase, rising 5.3 percent from January 2016 after posting a significant double-digit annual decline (35.3 percent) in December. Pending home sales decreased 21.2 percent in San Francisco County, 7.1 percent in Santa Clara County, 24.9 percent in Monterey, and 4.8 percent in Santa Cruz County. A shortage of homes on the market and poor affordability will likely persist throughout the year, and impact Bay Area home sales.
• Pending sales in the Central Valley fell 7.9 percent from January 2016 and were up 2.2 percent from December. Within Central Valley, pending sales were down 14.6 percent in Kern County and 11.8 percent in Sacramento compared with a year ago.

Full story

http://www.car.org/aboutus/mediacenter/newsreleases/2017releases/jan2017pendingsales

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SPRING HOUSING ALREADY OVERHEATING – THINK 60 OFFERS ON ONE HOUSE

The spring housing market started early this year, not because of higher-than-average temperatures but because of hotter-than-average demand and overheating home prices.

This year may be the starkest example of a post-recession reality that is redefining housing as we know it.

"This spring housing market is shaping up to be another doozy for homebuyers," said Ralph McLaughlin, chief economist for home-listing website Trulia. "Housing affordability is the key to helping break yet another year of gridlocked inventory, but all signs are showing that homes this spring will be much less affordable than last year."


Affordability is being hit on several fronts: The foreclosure crisis is over, but it left behind an entirely new landscape for potential buyers. Entry-level homes are scarce because investors bought tens of thousands of them during the crisis and turned them into rentals. The number of single-family rentals jumped to more than 15 million, up from about 11 million in 2009, according to the U.S. Census.

Homebuilders continue to operate well below normal levels because of higher costs and a lack of labor, and thousands of construction workers left the business during the recession, never to return. Builders don't focus on entry-level homes because the margins are simply too tight, and prices for new construction are also rising at a fast clip.

What's more, credit is still tight, and the youngest cohort of buyers, the millennials, are delaying marriage and parenthood, the two biggest drivers of home ownership. The shortage of homes for sale has now pushed prices to a 30-year high, according to S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller. Rising mortgage rates only add to the pressure.

"Home prices continue to advance, with the national average rising faster than at any time in the last two-and-a-half years," said David M. Blitzer, managing director and chairman of the index committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. "With all 20 cities [in the S&P/Case-Shiller Index] seeing prices rise over the last year, questions about whether this is a normal housing market or if prices could be heading for a fall are natural."

At a Sunday open house in Los Angeles this weekend, nearly a dozen house hunters showed up before the scheduled start. The three-bedroom, two-bathroom home was reasonably priced, in a desirable neighborhood and move-in ready.

Emily Leach, 35, knows that story all too well. She has been looking for a few months, hoping that by getting in before spring she might have a better chance at an affordable home. So far, that has not been the case.

"We actually had a house that we saw that we really liked in South-Central Los Angeles, and we tried to make a move on that and we got outbid. South-Central!" she laughed.

Michelle and Derrick Jacob have been trolling the market for six months. They have a strict budget with little leeway, making it difficult for them to compete.

"The ones we want seem to be purchased in a snap, over asking price most of the time, well over asking price," Derrick Jacob said.

Housing demand climbed considerably this year, even compared with last year, as the leading edge of the largest generation finally moves into homebuying and a stronger job market supports them. A monthly demand index from Redfin jumped to the highest level since January 2013, when the index began. Compared to January 2016, homebuyer demand was up 23 percent, led by a 26 percent annual increase in homebuyers requesting tours and an 18 percent increase in buyers making offers.

"Soaring stock markets, still-low mortgage rates, and a steady economy bolstered homebuyers at the start of 2017," said Nela Richardson, Redfin chief economist. "Homebuyers were not just window shopping. They were serious about making offers and getting to the closing table. However, this uptick in homebuyer enthusiasm won't guarantee strong sales in the coming months. With pending home sales down across the country in January despite strong demand, the lack of supply is a formidable foe for buyers this year."

Higher home prices in some areas are supported by improving local economies and employment, but in other markets, too much demand pitted against too little supply is resulting in overheated housing. Dallas, Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Portland, Oregon, are overpriced by 10 to 14 percent, according to a recent report from Fitch Ratings, which considers markets overheated when they exceed the areas' supporting economic fundamentals. Los Angeles, Miami and Tampa, Florida, are close to 10 percent overvalued.

Analysts at Fitch don't predict when any of these bubbles will burst, but they do point to certain warning signs.

"For Dallas, the current unemployment rate in the Fort Worth [Texas] region is 3 percent. You'd have to go back 30 years to go that low. We think it's not sustainable. The business cycle will turn. Eventually, when it does, home prices will come down," said Samuel So, director of research at Fitch.

Potential buyers today are facing tough new realities. Some houses are clearly overpriced, and renting is still a better financial option in some markets. Competition is fierce for the best homes, and buyers have to be ready to pull out all the tricks.

"You have to make an introductory letter, little story about yourself and you just hope that the home that you're buying is not being sold by a flipper because they are much more neutral," Leach advised. "If you have a home that's being sold by the previous owners, you might be able to get that emotional human connection."

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WHAT HOME BUYERS WISH THEY'D KNOWN


Nearly half of American homeowners recently surveyed said they would do something differently if they were to go through the homebuying process again, according to the NerdWallet’s Home Buyer Reality Report, which analyzed the steps more than 2,200 Americans took to homeownership.

What are the top things consumers say they regretted?
•  20 percent wished they had saved more money before buying a home
•  13 percent would do more research on the mortgage-lending process •  14 percent would have shopped around more for a mortgage •  13 percent would research the homebuying process more
Full story 

https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/mortgages/2017-home-buyer-reality-report/

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Friday, February 24, 2017

FREDDIE MAC: MARKET UNCERTAINTY DISORIENTS MORTGAGE RATES


Continuing its new pattern, the 30-year mortgage rate continues to stray from the Treasury yield amid rising market uncertainty.

“This week’s survey once again displays the disconnect between mortgage rates and Treasury yields, a result of continued uncertainty,” Freddie Mac Chief Economist Sean Becketti said.

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage increased slightly to 4.16 percent for the week ending Feb. 23, 2017. This is up from last week’s 4.15 percent and from last year’s 3.62 percent.

The 15-year FRM also increased slightly to 3.37 percent, up from last week’s 3.35 percent and from last year’s 2.93 percent.

However, the five-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage decreased slightly to 3.16 percent, down from last week’s 3.18 percent but still up from last year’s 2.79 percent.

“In a short week following Presidents Day, the 10-year Treasury yield fell about eight basis points,” Becketti said. “However, the 30-year mortgage rate rose one basis point to 4.16 percent.”

Read the full story

http://www.housingwire.com/articles/39302-freddie-mac-market-uncertainty-disorients-mortgage- rates

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CALIFORNIA HOUSING MARKET KICKS OFF YEAR HIGHER IN JANUARY


California’s housing market started the year on a high note, following up on December’s strong showing with higher sales both on a monthly and yearly basis in January, the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (C.A.R.) said.

Closed escrow sales of existing, single-family detached homes in California totaled a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 420,100 units in January, according to information collected by C.A.R. from more than 90 local REALTOR® associations and MLSs statewide. The statewide sales figure represents what would be the total number of homes sold during 2017 if sales maintained the January pace throughout the year. It is adjusted to account for seasonal factors that typically influence home sales.

The January figure was up 2.1 percent from the 411,430 level in December, and up 4.4 percent compared with home sales in January 2016 of a revised 402,220. The month-to-month gain was the first December- to-January increase since 2012, which is an encouraging sign.

“California’s housing market continues to be defined by the higher-priced, coastal markets and the less expensive, inland areas that still offer access to major employment centers,” said C.A.R. President Geoff McIntosh. “For example, eroding affordability and tight housing inventory are pushing buyers away from the core Bay Area markets of San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara and into less expensive bedroom communities, such as Contra Costa, Napa, and Solano. In Southern California, an influx of buyers from coastal employment areas into the Inland Empire drove healthy year-over-year sales in Riverside and San Bernardino.”

Making sense of the story
• The median price of an existing, single-family detached California home fell below the $500,000 mark for the first time since March 2016, but home prices remain seasonably strong. 
• The median price was down 3.8 percent from a revised $508,870 in December to $489,580 in January. The median sales price is the point at which half of homes sold for more and half sold for less; it is influenced by the types of homes selling, as well as a general change in values.
• January’s median price was up 4.8 percent from the revised $467,160 recorded in January 2016, a slightly slower pace than the 5.6 percent increase averaged last year.
• Since 2011, price declines from December to January have usually ranged from -11.7 percent to as little as -4.6 percent, but January’s 3.8 percent monthly smaller price decline suggests that price pressure remains relatively robust and could translate into additional price growth as the spring and summer home-buying seasons near.

Read the full story

http://www.car.org/aboutus/mediacenter/newsreleases/2017releases/jan2017sales

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Sunday, February 12, 2017

SWIFT GAINS IN FOURTH QUARTER PUSH HOME PRICES TO PEAK LEVELS IN MAJORITY OF METRO AREAS

The best quarterly sales pace of the year pushed available housing supply to record lows and caused price appreciation to slightly speed up in the final three months of 2016, according to the latest quarterly report by the National Association of Realtors®. The report also revealed that sales prices in over half of measured markets since 2005 are now at or above their previous peak level.

The median existing single-family home price increased in 89 percent of measured markets, with 158 out of 178 metropolitan statistical areas 1 (MSAs) showing sales price gains in the fourth quarter of 2016 compared with the fourth quarter of 2015. Twenty areas (11 percent) recorded lower median prices from a year earlier.

There were more rising markets in the fourth quarter compared to the third quarter of 2016, when price gains were recorded in 87 percent of metro areas. Thirty-one metro areas in the fourth quarter (17 percent) experienced double-digit increases — an increase from 14 percent in the third quarter.

For all of 2016, an average of 87 percent of measured markets saw increasing home prices, up from the averages in 2015 (86 percent) and 2014 (75 percent). Of the 150 markets NAR has tracked since 2005, 78 (52 percent) now have a median sales price at or above their previous all-time high.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says home-price gains showed little evidence of letting up through all of 2016. "Buyer interest stayed elevated in most areas thanks to mortgage rates under 4 percent for most of the year and the creation of 1.7 million new jobs edging the job market closer to full employment," he said. "At the same time, the inability for supply to catch up with this demand drove prices higher and continued to put a tight affordability squeeze on those trying to reach the market."

Added Yun, "Depressed new and existing inventory conditions led to several of the largest metro areas seeing near or above double-digit appreciation, which has pushed home values to record highs in a slight majority of markets. The exception for the most part is in the Northeast, where price growth is flatter because of healthier supply conditions."

The national median existing single-family home price in the fourth quarter of 2016 was $235,000, which is up 5.7 percent from the fourth quarter of 2015 ($222,300). The median price during the third quarter of 2016 increased 5.4 percent from the third quarter of 2015.

At the end of the fourth quarter, there were 1.65 million existing homes available for sale 2, which was 6.3 percent below the 1.76 million homes for sale at the end of the fourth quarter in 2015 and the lowest level since NAR began tracking the supply of all housing types in 1999. The average supply during the fourth quarter was 3.9 months — down from 4.6 months a year ago.

NAR President William E. Brown, a Realtor® from Alamo, California, says prospective buyers will likely see competition in their market increase even more this spring. "The prospect of higher mortgage rates and more home shoppers in coming months should be enough of an incentive for those serious about buying to start their search now," he said. "There are fewer listings on the market, but also a little less competition than what's expected this spring. Buyers may find just the home they're looking for at a good price and without the possibility of having to outbid others."

Total existing-home sales 3, including single family and condos, rose 3.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.57 million in the fourth quarter from 5.39 million in the third quarter of 2016, and are 7.1 percent higher than the 5.20 million pace during the fourth quarter of 2015.

Despite a meaningful increase in the national family median income ($70,831) 4, rising prices and the boost in mortgage rates at the end of the year slightly weakened affordability compared to a year ago. To purchase a single-family home at the national median price, a buyer making a 5 percent down payment would need an income of $51,017, a 10 percent down payment would require an income of $48,332, and $42,962 would be needed for a 20 percent down payment.

"Even a pick-up in wage growth may be insufficient to compensate the impact of higher mortgage rates and home prices. Increased homebuilding will be crucial to alleviate supply shortages and stave off the affordability hit," added Yun.

Metro area condominium and cooperative prices — covering changes in 61 metro areas — showed the national median existing-condo price was $222,000 in the fourth quarter, up 6.1 percent from the fourth quarter of 2015 ($209,300). Nearly all metro areas (93 percent) showed gains in their median condo price from a year ago.

The five most expensive housing markets in the fourth quarter were the San Jose, California, metro area, where the median existing single-family price was $1,005,000; San Francisco, $837,500; Anaheim-Santa Ana, California, $745,200; urban Honolulu, $740,200; and San Diego, $593,000.

The five lowest-cost metro areas in the fourth quarter were Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, Ohio, $87,600; Decatur, Illinois, $92,400; Cumberland, Maryland, $94,000; Rockford, Illinois, $109,500, and Binghamton, New York, $109,700.


Regional Breakdown
Total existing-home sales in the Northeast jumped 10.5 percent in the fourth quarter and are now 6.4 percent above the fourth quarter of 2015. The median existing single-family home price in the Northeast was $254,100 in the fourth quarter, slightly lower (0.2 percent) from a year ago.

In the Midwest, existing-home sales climbed 2.3 percent in the fourth quarter and are 8.8 percent above a year ago. The median existing single-family home price in the Midwest increased 5.7 percent to $181,100 in the fourth quarter from the same quarter a year ago.

Existing-home sales in the South increased 2.6 percent in the fourth quarter and are 5.4 percent higher than the fourth quarter of 2015. The median existing single-family home price in the South was $210,500 in the fourth quarter, 7.9 percent above a year earlier.

In the West, existing-home sales rose 1.6 percent in the fourth quarter and are 9.1 percent above a year ago. The median existing single-family home price in the West increased 7.8 percent to $348,800 in the fourth quarter from the fourth quarter of 2015.

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

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SMALL HOMES CAN OFFER BIG RETURNS

When shopping for a new home, bigger is better, right? When it comes to roomier closets and more spacious kitchens, probably — but not so much when considering the return on your investment. According to a NerdWallet analysis of three years of data from Realtor.com for 20 of the largest U.S. metro areas, smaller homes generally appreciate at a faster rate than larger abodes.

NerdWallet looked at Realtor.com’s data for home listing prices in each of the 20 largest metro areas by population (other than New York City and Philadelphia, which had insufficient data) from 2013 to 2016. Homes for each metro area were lumped into four equal groups, or quartiles, based on square footage, each relative to the median home size in that area. From there, we calculated the compound annual growth rate of listing prices.

Key takeaways• Smaller homes see prices rise faster: While individual market dynamics and trends vary, in 17 of the 20 metro areas analyzed, listing prices of the smallest 25% of homes grew fastest when calculated as a percentage. The median annual growth rate for the smallest quartile of homes was 8.9% from 2013 to 2016. The second-smallest group of homes had the second-fastest growth rate, with median annual growth of 7.4%.


• Prices in Florida appreciated fastest: The two metro areas with the fastest rate of price appreciation among the smallest homes are both in Florida. Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach saw the most drastic growth, as the smallest quartile of homes appreciated by 19.5% each year from 2013 to 2016. The metro area with the second-fastest appreciation of small homes was Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Florida, where the smallest quartile of homes appreciated by 16.6% annually.

• Larger homes appreciate fastest by dollar amount: While the smallest homes appreciate fastest when viewed as a percentage, larger homes appreciate faster when looking at absolute dollar amount. This is simply because of the larger price tag of the home. For example, the smallest homes in the metro areas we analyzed appreciated just over $57,535 on average between 2013 and 2016. Over the same period, the largest homes saw their prices rise $99,790 on average.

Why small homes might net better returns faster
These findings are not surprising, says Richard K. Green, a professor and chair of the Lusk Center for Real Estate at the University of Southern California. “We’ve had this now for about nine to 10 years, this return to center cities” being more desirable than suburbs, Green says. And homes in the center of big cities tend to be smaller than those in suburbs, Green noted, regardless of whether they’re historic houses or new construction.

In addition to increased demand for homes in city centers, another possible reason for the trend, Green says, is that new construction has been down nationwide dating back to 2007; that means inventory in general is low. Furthermore, many people who bought starter homes between 2004 and 2006 haven’t recovered all the value they lost during the housing crisis.

“They haven’t built up the equity that normally people would use for a down payment in order to move up, so you have a lot of people who are stuck in their starter homes,” Green says. While home prices are going up, he says, they’re not high enough to get people to leave their starter homes except in a few markets, such as Denver and Dallas. As a result, there often aren’t enough starter homes on the market to meet demand. This lack of inventory, paired with increased demand, means more price appreciation for smaller homes.

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