NAR released a summary of existing-home sales data showing that housing market activity this January rose modestly 0.6% from December 2020. January’s existing home sales reached a 6.69 million seasonally adjusted annual rate. January’s sales of existing homes rose 23.7% from January 2020.
The national median existing-home price for all housing types rose to $309,900 in January, up 14.1% percent from a year ago. Home prices have continued to escalate, and this marks the 107th consecutive month of year-over-year gains.
Regionally, all four regions showed double digit price growth from a year ago. The West had the largest gain of 16.1% followed by the Northeast with an increase of 15.8%. The Midwest showed an increase of 14.7% and the South had the smallest price gain of 14.6% from January 2020.
January’s inventory figures dropped 1.9% from last month standing at 1.04 million homes for sale. Compared with January of 2020, inventory levels dropped 25.7%. This would mark 20 straight months of year over year declines. It will take 1.9 months to move the current level of inventory at the current sales pace.
It takes approximately 21 days for a home to go from listing to a contract in the current housing market. A year ago, it took 43 days.
From December 2020, two of the four regions had increases in sales. The South had the largest gain of 3.2% followed by the Midwest with an increase of 1.9%. The Northeast had a decline of 2.2% followed by the West with the biggest dip of 4.4%.
From a year ago, all four regions showed double digit increases in sales. The South region had the largest gain of 25.1%. The Northeast had an increase in sales of 24.3% followed by the Midwest with a rise of 22.7%. The West had the smallest gain of 21.3%.
The South led all regions in percentage of national sales, accounting for 43.9% of the total, while the Northeast had the smallest share at 13.0%.
In January, single-family sales were up 0.2% and condominiums sales were up 4.1% compared to last month. Single-family home sales were up 23.0% while condominium sales were up 28.8% compared to a year ago. The median sales price of single-family homes rose 14.8% at $308,300 from January 2020, while the median sales price of condominiums rose 8.6% at $269,600.
January marked the fifth straight month that the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) has reported a decline in its Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI). The index, based on newly signed contracts for the purchase of existing homes, was down 2.8 percent from its December level.
The index in January was at 122.8 compared to 125.5 in December and has lost 10 points since August. Still, pending sales were up 13 percent compared to a year earlier. This January’s PHSI was, in fact, the highest for any January on record.
Analysts had expected the index to be flat but individual estimates by those polled by Econoday all overshot the actual results. They covered a range from a 1.5 percent downturn to 0.5 percent growth. The consensus was for zero change.
“Pending home sales fell in January because there are simply not enough homes to match the demand on the market,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. “That said, there has been an increase in permits and requests to build new homes.” Yun said that increase in single-family permits has been consistent for eight months and is a good sign that the supply and demand imbalance in the residential real estate market could be easing as soon as mid-2021.
“There will also be a natural seasonal upswing in inventory in spring and summer after few new listings during the winter months,” he said. “These trends, along with an anticipated ramp-up in home construction will provide for much-needed supply.”
Following a week where January’s existing-home sales increased, Yun noted that pending contracts are a great early indicator for upcoming closed sales but stressed that the timing of the relationship between existing-home sales and pending home sales may not be in lockstep.
“The two measurements aren’t always perfectly correlated due to varying amounts of time required to close a contract,” Yun said. “This is because a number of fallouts can occur due to a variety of factors, including a buyer not obtaining mortgage financing, a problem with a home inspection, or an appraisal issue.”
He noted that the economy is showing promising signs of improvement, and many millions of Americans are now receiving a COVID-19 vaccination. Still, he cautioned that the better economic outlook, rising inflation prospects and higher budget deficits will soon drive increases in interest rates. “I don’t foresee mortgage rates jumping to an alarming level,” he said, “but we should prepare for a rise of at least a decimal point or two.”
Pending home sales transactions in the South inched up 0.1 percent to an index of 151.3 in January and were 17.1 percent higher year-over-year. The index in the West was at 104.6, a 7.8 percent drop from December but up 11.5 percent from a year prior.
The PHSI is based on a large national sample, typically representing about 20 percent of transactions for existing-home sales. In developing the model for the index, it was demonstrated that the level of monthly sales-contract activity parallels the level of closed existing-home sales in the following two months. Existing home sales numbers for February will be released on March 22.
An index of 100 is equal to the average level of contract activity during 2001, which was the first year to be examined. By coincidence, the volume of existing-home sales in 2001 fell within the range of 5.0 to 5.5 million, which is considered normal for the current U.S. population.
S&P Dow Jones Indices (S&P DJI) today releases the latest results for the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Indices, the leading measure of U.S. home prices. Data released today for December 2020 show that home prices continue to increase across the U.S. More than 27 years of history are available for the data series, and can be accessed in full by going to https://www.spglobal.com/spdji/.
Please note that transaction records for October 2020 and November 2020 for Wayne County, MI, are now available. Due to delays at the local recording office caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, S&P DJI and CoreLogic were previously unable to generate valid October 2020 and November 2020 updates for the Detroit S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Indices.
However, there are still an insufficient number of records from Wayne County for December 2020. Since Wayne County is the most populous county in the Detroit metro area, S&P DJI and CoreLogic are unable to generate a valid Detroit index value for December 2020. When the sale transactions data fully resumes, and sufficient data is collected, the Detroit index values for the month(s) with missing updates will be calculated.
The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price NSA Index, covering all nine U.S. census divisions, reported a 10.4% annual gain in December, up from 9.5% in the previous month. The 10-City Composite annual increase came in at 9.8%, up from 8.9% in the previous month. The 20-City Composite posted a 10.1% year-over-year gain, up from 9.2% in the previous month.
Phoenix, Seattle, and San Diego continued to report the highest year-over-year gains among the 19 cities (excluding Detroit) in December. Phoenix led the way with a 14.4% year-over-year price increase, followed by Seattle with a 13.6% increase and San Diego with a 13.0% increase. Eighteen of the 19 cities reported higher price increases in the year ending December 2020 versus the year ending November 2020.
Before seasonal adjustment, the U.S. National Index posted a 0.9% month-over-month increase, while the 10-City and 20-City Composites both posted increases of 0.9% and 0.8% respectively in December. After seasonal adjustment, the U.S. National Index posted a month-over-month increase of 1.3%, while the 10-City and 20-City Composites both posted increases of 1.2% and 1.3% respectively. In December, 18 cities (excluding Detroit) reported increases before seasonal adjustment, while all 19 cities reported increases after seasonal adjustment.
“Home prices finished 2020 with double-digit gains, as the National Composite Index rose by 10.4% compared to year-ago levels,” says Craig J. Lazzara, Managing Director and Global Head of Index Investment Strategy at S&P DJI. “The trend of accelerating prices that began in June 2020 has now reached its seventh month and is also reflected in the 10- and 20-City Composites (up 9.8% and 10.1%, respectively). The market’s strength continues to be broadly-based: 18 of the 19 cities for which we have December data rose, and 18 cities gained more in the 12 months ended in December than they had gained in the 12 months ended in November.
“As COVID-related restrictions began to grip the economy in early 2020, their effect on housing prices was unclear. Price growth decelerated in May and June, and then began a steady climb upward, and December’s report continues that acceleration in an emphatic manner. 2020’s 10.4% gain marks the best performance of housing prices in a calendar year since 2013. From the perspective of more than 30 years of S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller data, December’s year-over-year change ranks within the top decile of all reports.
“These data are consistent with the view that COVID has encouraged potential buyers to move from urban apartments to suburban homes. This may indicate a secular shift in housing demand, or may simply represent an acceleration of moves that would have taken place over the next several years anyway. Future data will be required to address that question.
“Phoenix’s 14.4% increase led all cities for the 19th consecutive month, with Seattle (+13.6%) and San Diego (+13.0%) close behind. Prices were strongest in the West (+10.8%) and Southwest (+10.5%), but gains were impressive in every region.”
Table 1 below shows the housing boom/bust peaks and troughs for the three composites along with the current levels and percentage changes from the peaks and troughs.
From Peak (%)
From Trough (%)
From Peak (%)
Table 2 below summarizes the results for December 2020. The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Indices are revised for the prior 24 months, based on the receipt of additional source data.
Sources: S&P Dow Jones Indices and CoreLogic
Data through December 2020
Table 3 below shows a summary of the monthly changes using the seasonally adjusted (SA) and non-seasonally adjusted (NSA) data. Since its launch in early 2006, the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Indices have published, and the markets have followed and reported on, the non-seasonally adjusted data set used in the headline indices. For analytical purposes, S&P Dow Jones Indices publishes a seasonally adjusted data set covered in the headline indices, as well as for the 17 of 20 markets with tiered price indices and the five condo markets that are tracked.
S&P Dow Jones Indices is the largest global resource for essential index-based concepts, data and research, and home to iconic financial market indicators, such as the S&P 500® and the Dow Jones Industrial Average®. More assets are invested in products based on our indices than products based on indices from any other provider in the world. Since Charles Dow invented the first index in 1884, S&P DJI has been innovating and developing indices across the spectrum of asset classes helping to define the way investors measure and trade the markets.
S&P Dow Jones Indices is a division of S&P Global (NYSE: SPGI), which provides essential intelligence for individuals, companies, and governments to make decisions with confidence. For more information, visit https://www.spglobal.com/spdji/.
“It’s a tale of two economies. The services economy remains in the doldrums, but the production side of the economy remains strong,” said Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s Chief Economist. “New COVID-19 cases are receding, which is encouraging and that has led to a rise in Treasury rates. But, the run-up in Treasury rates has not impacted mortgage rates yet, which have held firm.”
Khater continued, “The residential real estate market remains solid given healthy purchase demand while implied real-time home price growth is high, due to the inventory shortage that is plaguing the housing market.”
30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 2.73 percent with an average 0.7 point for the week ending February 11, 2021, unchanged from last week. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 3.47 percent.
15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 2.19 percent with an average 0.6 point, down from last week when it averaged 2.21 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 2.97 percent.
U.S. Reps. Mondaire Jones (D-NY), Tom Suozzi (D-NY) and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer on Thursday introduced the SALT Deductibility Act that would remove the $10,000 cap on state and local tax deductions imposed in 2017 under the federal tax reform law.
The SALT Cap was highly criticized by New York politicians, as well as the New York State real estate industry, including the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors.
“When it comes to SALT, if you think Westchester and Rockland families needed and deserved this money before the coronavirus took hold, the stakes are even higher now because the cap is costing this community tens-of-thousands of dollars they could be using amid the crisis… Double taxing hardworking homeowners is plainly unfair. We need to bring our federal dollars back home to cushion the blow of this virus—and this harmful SALT cap—has dealt so many homeowners and families locally,” said U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer.
The SALT Deductibility Act would remove the cap on the SALT deduction instituted in 2017 as part of then President Donald Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and would allow New Yorkers to fully deduct their state and local taxes from their federal taxes.
“Donald Trump cut taxes for billionaires and big corporations and paid for it on the backs of hardworking families in Westchester and Rockland counties, where we pay the highest property taxes in the entire nation,” said Rep. Jones at a press conference announcing the introduction of the SALT bill. “That must change. Restoring the SALT deduction is a necessary first step to creating an equitable tax system – one where we put money back in the pockets of working people.”
Congressman Jones’ said the passage of the bill will bring needed relief to his constituents in Westchester and Rockland residents who pay the highest property taxes of any Congressional District in the entire nation, with Westchester ranked first and Rockland ranked second.
Others who praised the bill’s introduction were U.S, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), who said, “The reinstating of the SALT Deduction will ensure that New York families have more money in their pockets, get much-needed tax relief and will once again be treated fairly.”
New York State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins noted that over the last three years, “Trump’s unfair attack on Blue States has cost New Yorkers over $30 billion, while wealthy corporations saw tax breaks.”
“I want to thank US Congressman Mondaire Jones for his work, in conjunction with US Senator Chuck Schumer, to restore the State and Local Tax or ‘SALT’ deduction,” said Westchester County Executive George Latimer. “This federal tax law is not only double taxation, but it also unfairly targets communities like Westchester County–and every homeowner in this county is a victim. In Westchester, where the average home is valued at $691,392.00, our homes are our greatest asset and this cap is a hit to our wallet. We cannot stand for this—and we will not. We won’t stop fighting until we overturn the SALT deduction cap.”
In other legislative news, Spectrum News reported that two state lawmakers had introduced a bill to tax capital gains in New York as a means to increase taxes on the state’s wealthiest residents. The bill backed by Sen. Gustavo Rivera and Assemblyman Ron Kim that would tax investment income could raise an estimated $7 billion in revenue for the state.
In November, national home prices continued to rise at a fast pace, fueled by strong demand and low inventory. All 19 major markets saw double-digit growths in home prices.
The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index, reported by S&P Dow Jones Indices, rose at a seasonally adjusted annual growth rate of 18.3% in November, following a 21.9% increase in October. It marks the fourth consecutive month of double-digit growth in home prices. On a year-over-year basis, the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price NSA Index posted a 9.5% annual gain in November, up from 8.4% in September. It is the fastest pace of home price appreciation since February 2014. Strong demand, low interest rates and tight inventory together pushed home prices to new highs amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Meanwhile, the Home Price Index, released by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), rose at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 12.9% in November, following a 19.3% increase in October. On a year-over-year basis, the FHFA Home Price NSA Index rose by 11.0% in November, after an increase of 10.3% in October. It confirmed rapid growth in home prices for this month.
In addition to tracking national home price changes, S&P reported home price indexes across 19 metro areas in November (Detroit metro area data was missing in November 2020 because there are not a sufficient number of records for the month of November for Detroit).
In November, all 19 metro areas reported positive home price appreciation and their annual growth rates ranged from 9.1% to 27.7%. Among all the 19 metro areas, seven metro areas exceeded the national average of 18.3%. New York, Seattle and Boston had the highest home price appreciation. New York led the way with a 27.7% increase, followed by Seattle with a 22.4% increase and Boston with a 21.9% increase.
Total existing home sales—including single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums, and co-ops—rose by 0.7% month over month and 22.2% year over year in December, up to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.76 million, according to the National Association of Realtors. At the same time, year-end existing home sales volume totaled 5.64 million in 2020—up 5.6% from 2019, and the highest number recorded since 2006.
“Home sales rose in December, and, for 2020 as a whole, we saw sales perform at their highest levels since 2006, despite the pandemic,” says Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. “What’s even better is that this momentum is likely to carry into the new year, with more buyers expected to enter the market. … Although mortgage rates are projected to increase, they will continue to hover near record lows at around 3%. Moreover, expect economic conditions to improve with additional stimulus forthcoming and vaccine distribution already underway.”
The median existing home price for all housing prices was $309,800 in December, up 12.9% from $274,500 in December 2019. This marks 106 straight months of year-over-year price increases for existing homes. Total housing inventory totaled 1.07 million units, down 16.4% from November and down 23% from December 2019. Unsold inventory sits at an all-time low 1.9-month supply at the current sales pace.
“To their credit, home builders and construction companies have increased efforts to build, with housing starts hitting an annual rate of near 1.7 million in December, with more focus on single-family homes,” Yun says. “However, it will take vigorous new-home construction in 2021 and in 2022 to adequately furnish the market to properly meet the demand.”
Properties typically remained on the market for 21 days in December, down from 41 days in December 2019. Seventy percent of homes sold in December were on the market for less than a month. First-time buyers accounted for 31% of existing home sales, while individual investors or second home buyers accounted for 14% of transactions. Distressed sales represented less than 1%.
Alone, single-family home sales rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.03 million in December, up 0.7% from 5.99 million in November and 22.8% from one year ago. Please visit website for more details.
At the regional level, existing home sales rose 4.5% month over month to an annual rate of 930,000 in the Northeast, or 27.4% from one year ago. Existing home sales were unchanged month over month in the Midwest at an annual rate of 1,590,000, up 26.2% from one year ago. Sales rose 1.1% month over month in the South to an annual rate of 2,860,000, up 20.7% from one year ago, and existing sales in the West fell 1.4% to an annual rate of 1,380,000, up 17.9% from one year ago.
Single-family housing starts ended 2020 on a high note, rising 12% in December to a 1.338 million unit pace – the highest pace since 2006, according to the Census Bureau.
That’s up 27.8% from one year ago, a remarkable figure given the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, per industry officials.
“2020 will go down, quite unexpectedly, as one of the best years for home builders in recent memory, and proof that great challenges — and not just those posed by COVID — can be overcome with hard work and creativity,” said Matthew Speakman, Zillow economist. “Demand for homes remains sky high, despite the still-raging pandemic, as people look to take advantage of historically low mortgage rates and find their next home. “
An estimated 1.380 million housing units were started in 2020 – 7% percent above the 2019 figure of 1.29 million
Remarkably, most industry experts believe construction rates will climb even higher in 2021.
“We expect single-family construction to move up 9% in 2021 — a much-needed relief valve for homebuyers,” said Danielle Hale, chief economist at Realtor.com. “While buyer demand has slowed since December, it remains notably higher than one year ago, giving builders a strong incentive to keep building.”
“Supply-side headwinds will remain in 2021,” added Odeta Kushi, First American deputy chief economist. “Given the underbuilding that took place in the decade following the Great Recession, it will take years for builders to close the deficit.”
Even with the promise of additional relief funding from President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan, most homebuyers are still looking for houses with large work-from-home areas — a sign that confidence in the eradication of the virus, and a restart of face-to-face interaction, remains low.
“The past year has also cemented the smooth transition towards touring homes virtually and digitalizing many parts of the mortgage process, making homebuying much safer in light of the ongoing public health situation,” said John Pataky, executive vice president at TIAA Bank.
Privately-owned housing starts in December also jumped from November — a 5.8% rise with a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.669 million. That’s also 5.2% above the December 2019 rate of 1.587 million.
Austin Niemiec, Rocket Pro TPO executive vice president, urged brokers to maintain a focus on purchasing and ensuring solid internal processes.
“Brokers should be ready to support clients looking to secure their dream home,” he said. “This will be another strong year for loan officers, and new houses will play an important role in making sure we assist buyers at a high level.”
In authorizations, units in buildings with five units or more were authorized at a rate of 437,000 in December. Privately owned housing units authorized by building permits in December were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,709,000 — 4.5% above the revised November rate of 1.635 million.
Single-family authorizations in December were at a rate of 1.226 million, a rise of 7.8% above the November figure of 1.137 million.
Lawrence Yun, National Association of Realtors chief economist, is optimistic the housing sector will be a major player in the economy’s recovery in 2021.
“More construction also means more local job creation,” he said. “The worst of the housing shortage could soon come to an end.”
“As Treasury yields have risen, it is putting pressure on mortgage rates to move up,” said Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s Chief Economist. “While mortgage rates are expected to increase modestly in 2021, they will remain inarguably low, supporting homebuyer demand and leading to continued refinance activity. Borrowers are smart to take advantage of these low rates now and will certainly benefit as a result.”
30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 2.79 percent with an average 0.7 point for the week ending January 14, 2021, up from last week when it averaged 2.65 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 3.65 percent.
15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 2.23 percent with an average 0.7 point, up from last week when it averaged 2.16 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 3.09 percent.
The PMMS® is focused on conventional, conforming, fully amortizing home purchase loans for borrowers who put 20 percent down and have excellent credit. Average commitment rates should be reported along with average fees and points to reflect the total upfront cost of obtaining the mortgage. Visit the following link for the Definitions. Borrowers may still pay closing costs which are not included in the survey.
After reaching a record high in August, pending home sales slid for the third consecutive month, as fast-rising home prices and low inventory started to impede the housing market. Higher interest rates this week will present an additional challenge in future data.
The Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI), reported by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), is a forward-looking indicator based on signed contracts. The PHSI fell 2.6% from 129.1 in October to 125.7 in November, the highest level for November. However, on a year-over-year basis, sales were still 16.4% higher than a year ago.
All four regions saw a decline in month-over-month contract activity, ranging from 1.1% in the South to 4.7% in the West. On a year-over-year basis, all four regions saw double-digit year-over-year growths, ranging from 10.4% in the West to 21.3% in the South.
Despite the declines in these three months, pending home sales still outperformed this year and housing demand remained strong due to recent, low mortgage rates. However, rising home prices driven by record-low inventory may hurt affordability, especially first-time buyers. More listings and home construction are needed to meet this rising demand.