The Pending Home Sales increased 1.7% in January, and was up 8.4% from the same period a year ago. The Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI), a forward-looking indicator based on signed contracts reported by theNational Association of Realtors (NAR), increased to 104.2 in January, up from an upwardly revised 102.5 in December. The PHSI increased year-over-year for the fifth consecutive month.
The January PHSI increased 3.2% in the South, 2.2% in the West and 0.1% in the Northeast, but decreased 0.7% in the Midwest. Year-over-year, the PHSI increased in all four regions, ranging from 11.4% in the West to 4.2% in the Midwest.
This resumption of an upward trend in the PHSI suggests that, despite a dip in January, existing home saleswill improve over the next couple of months. Improved job growth will sustain the housing recovery and move it to a higher level during 2015.
Earlier today, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) reported a 10 basis point decline in mortgage interest rates for the month of January. Looking into the data a little further shows that the story was essentially the same for the subset of mortgages used to purchase newly built homes,
On conventional mortgages for new homes, FHFA tables show the average contract interest rate declining from 4.03 to 3.92 percent—the first time it’s dipped below 4 percent since May.
Meanwhile, average initial fees and charges on the loans, increased slightly from 1.16 to 1.18 percent. The result was a 9 basis point decline in the average effective interest rate (which amortizes initial fees over the estimated life of the loan) on new home loans, from 4.14 to 4.05 percent.
While the average size of the mortgages declined, from $336,500 to $331,700, the average price of the new homes purchased with the loans moved in the opposite direction—recovering from $437,300 to $440,300 after a one month dip. Although not quite up to the November peak, this is still the second highest average new home price on record.
The combination of smaller loans and higher price took the average loan-to-price ratio on new home mortgages down from 78.9 to 77.3, a ratio more typical of recent history (the average for 2014 was 77.6).
This information is based on FHFA’s Monthly Interest Rate Survey (MIRS) of loans closed during the last five working days in January. For other caveats and details on the MIRS methodology, see the technical note at the end of FHFA’s February 26 news release.
Builder and developer sentiment about the multifamily market held steady in the fourth quarter, according to results from NAHB’s Multifamily Production Index (MPI) released earlier today.
The overall MPI—a composite measure of sentiment about production of low-rent apartments, market-rate rental apartments and condominiums—was unchanged at 54 in the fourth quarter.
The MPI and each of its components is an index that ranges from 0 to 100, where any number over the break-even point of 50 means that more respondents report conditions are improving than report conditions are getting worse. The overall MPI has been above 50 for three straight years, indicating that builders and developers, on balance, believe the market has been improving consistently over that time.
Among the components of the MPI, the index for low-rent apartments increased one point to 52, the index for market-rate rental fell two points to 62, and the index for condominiums held steady at 50.
Historically, the MPI has performed well as a leading indicator of starts in buildings with five or more apartments, often moving one to three quarters in advance of the construction numbers released by the U.S. Census Bureau.
An overall MPI of 54 is consistent with NAHB’s view that the multifamily segment of the industry has largely recovered from the downturn, and that multifamily production has now reached a healthy, sustainable level.
For more information, including detailed tables on the components of the MPI, see the web page for NAHB’sMultifamily Production & Vacancy Indices.
WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — Inflation in January may have seen the first negative reading since 2009, but there’s little sign that rents are cooling off.
Rent of primary residences, on a year-over-year basis, stayed at 3.4% in January, the 10th month in a row it’s been above 3%, according to Labor Department data released Thursday.
Put another way — the gap between rents and the broader consumer-price index is as large as it’s been since August 2009.
Separate data from Axiometrics confirms the story on rents — apartment rent growth in January was 4.9% year-over-year, which according to their data was the best since the recession.
The rental story has been a hot one for some time.
Part of it reflects the same fundamentals that have helped lift house prices, like the steady jobs growth in the economy.
In addition, tight credit standards, and the overhang of student debt, have helped steer younger Americans to rent from buy, when they’re not living in their parents’ basements.
Other factors include changing tastes as well as lifestyle changes, like marriage, happening later in life, according to KC Sanjay, senior real estate economist at Axiometrics
The consumer price index fell for the third straight month as the price of gasoline continued its sharp decline. The prices on expenditures made by urban consumers decreased 0.1% over the past twelve months before seasonal adjustments. According to the latest release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) the consumer price index decreased 0.7% on a seasonally adjusted month-over-month basis.
The energy price index fell 9.7% in January for seventh straight month-over-month decline. This was the largest month-over-month drop during that period. The driving force behind falling consumer prices and the energy index is the sharp drop in gasoline prices. The gasoline index, a component of the energy price index, fell 18.7% for the month and is down 35.4% for the year. The index for natural gas also fell for the month; dropping 3.4% on a seasonally adjusted month-over-month basis.
The food index was unchanged in January on a seasonally adjusted month-over-month basis. Over the past twelve months, however, the food index increased 3.2% before seasonal adjustments. The food at home index increased 3.3% over the last twelve month with a large increase in the meats, poultry, fish, and eggs group of 8.7% for the year.
Core CPI, which excludes the more volatile food and energy prices, increased 0.2% on a seasonally adjusted month-over-month basis. Over the past twelve months core CPI increased 1.6% before seasonal adjustments.
The shelter index rose 0.3% month-over-month in January after increasing 0.2% month-over-month in December. Over the past twelve months, the shelter index increased 2.9% before seasonal adjustments.
The increase in the shelter index partly reflects increases in rental prices; the BLS measure does not isolate the change in rental prices from the changes in the overall price index. NAHB constructs a real price index by deflating the price index for rent by the index for overall inflation. This measure indicates whether inflation in rents is faster or slower than general inflation and provides insight into the supply and demand conditions for rental housing, after controlling for overall inflation. When rents are rising faster (slower) than general inflation the real rent index rises (declines).
The growth in real rental prices continues to outpace growth in the CPI. The NAHB constructed real rent index increased 0.1% in January month-over-month. Real rental prices rose by 1.7% from one year ago.
Fredie Mac today released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®), showing average fixed mortgage rates moving higher amid solid housing data on new home sales and house price appreciation. Regardless, fixed-rate mortgages rates still remain near their late May, 2013 lows.
- 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 3.80 percent with an average 0.6 point for the week ending February 26, 2015, up from last week when it averaged 3.76 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 4.37 percent.
- 15-year FRM this week averaged 3.07 percent with an average 0.6 point, up from last week when it averaged 3.05 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 3.39 percent.
- 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 2.99 percent this week with an average 0.5 point, up from last week when it averaged 2.97 percent. A year ago, the 5-year ARM averaged 3.05 percent.
- 1-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 2.44 percent this week with an average 0.4 point, down from last week when it averaged 2.45 percent. At this time last year, the 1-year ARM averaged 2.52 percent.
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 links for the Regional and National Mortgage Rate Details and Definitions. Borrowers may
Setting a home’s list price isn’t an exact science. A good real estate agent will recommend a price range, but never assign an exact price — that’s ultimately for the seller to decide.
Although sellers aren’t required to price according to inventory levels or the market condition, it’s smart to discuss these matters with your agent early and often to make an informed decision. Here are some considerations to keep in mind when choosing your listing price.
Discuss price reductions before listing
If you aren’t highly motivated to unload your home, time is on your side. Absent recent or obvious comparable sales, the market value of your home could fall within a broader range. If you want to give it a shot at the top of the range, go for it. Then monitor buyer traffic to see how the market responds.
If you try the higher end of your home’s price range, agree with your agent early on that, after a set amount of time, you will drop the price. You can then use that price reduction as a marketing tool to get more people in the door. At least you will know that the higher price strategy did not work.
Pricing low doesn’t guarantee multiple offers
When homeowners hear about other sellers who received multiple offers or sold their homes for over the asking price, they assume it can happen to them, too. But just because your neighbor received three offers within two weeks does not mean you will.
The homes that receive multiple offers are sometimes purposely priced low to get that activity. These home are generally in a good location and in their best showing condition. And for all you know, the seller of the low-priced home with multiple offers was in a rush to sell and left money on the table.
If you price your home low, be prepared to take that price. While it’s not unheard of, raising your list price several weeks into the listing will surely turn off potential buyers.
Many agents look for a quick sale
Well-intentioned agents don’t want to watch your home sit on the market. They understand that homes that go weeks or months with few showings will ultimately sell for less than if they had been priced correctly right out of the gate.
Sometimes it becomes a battle — one you need to avoid. If your agent pushes for a lower number but still agrees to take the listing at your higher price, you may want to reconsider working with that agent. He or she represents your interests in the marketplace, both to other agents and the buyers they encounter. An agent who doesn’t get their way on pricing may end up sabotaging your sale. A good agent will agree to support your higher price strategy, but have a price discussion after some time on the market.
Determining the real market value
The true market value of a home is what an able and willing buyer and seller agree to in an arms-length transaction. But you won’t know that until the end of the process.
If the home sells within a few days of listing, chances are you listed too low. If months go by without any action, you hit the high mark. A home that is priced right will get some steady action. If you receive second or third showings from multiple buyers over the course of a few weeks, you’ve likely hit the mark with pricing.
All that snow in New England may make your property look as pretty as a calendar shot, but it won’t do you any favors if you’re trying to buy or sell a house.
The storms that have dropped an epic 8 feet of snow are causing grief for the real estate industry.
Some real estate agents have had to cancel nearly a month of weekend open houses because of the poorly timed snowstorms. Others have had to brace prospective buyers about to tour homes showing the ravages of winter, including leaky walls and ceilings caused by a buildup of ice on the roof.
Agents complain that deals are being held up because inspectors are unable to get a look at roofs, septic tanks and other features buried under mounds of snow and ice.
And sellers are grumbling about how difficult it is to move out of their homes in the treacherous weather.
“Honestly, every day is a new issue,” said Kate Lanagan MacGregor, a real estate agent in Mattapoisett, as she rattled off some of her recent struggles. Her latest: trying to empty a newly sold house of the furniture her company had used to “stage” the place for prospective buyers.
“Usually, you can just run up and grab your furniture. Now, the driveway’s not plowed, there’s no path shoveled and you can’t physically get your stuff out the door,” she said.
Homeowner Abbie Cregan recounted her ordeal moving out of her longtime home in Fairhaven just days earlier.
“We were literally pulling washers, dryers, furniture sets out of the house with a dolly and a strap and dragging them through the snow,” she said from her new home in snow-free Phoenix, Arizona. “I still have bruises from it.”
Jeremy Madore said he and his wife are closing on a four-bedroom home in Leominster that they found just weeks ago, in the throes of the snowstorms. He said a home inspector had to clear away a chunk of the snow-covered roof to assess its quality.
Now they’re watching to see how the barn’s roof holds up under the weight and what happens to the basement when the snows finally melt.
“It was definitely more aggravating home shopping in this weather,” Madore said. “We climbed over snowbanks and icy, slippery steps. I brought my snow pants and boots to make sure I wasn’t deterred from making a full circle around the property.”
Corinne Fitzgerald, president of the Massachusetts Association of Realtors, said she won’t have a clear picture of the effect on home sales until figures come in around mid-March. But February, she noted, tends to be the slowest month anyway.
Nationally, sales of existing homes fell slightly in January, in part because of the severe cold and snowy weather in New England and other parts of the country, according to Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, a market forecasting firm. He said February data should show further declines.
Real estate agents said many sellers appear to be waiting until the weather clears to put their homes on the market, meaning a potentially busy spring. But winter can also hold certain opportunities.
Buying a home is arguably the largest investment you can make. You purchase your house, probably put work into it to make it fit your style, and hopefully add improvements along the way that will increase its value. So when it’s time to sell the house, you want to make sure you’re getting the best price for it. That often includes working with a real estate agent in your area, but it can also mean researching online ahead of time to get a good idea of a fair market price.
But the problem is that, sometimes, those online estimates inflate what homes are actually worth, causing a rift in expectations. And when Zillow says the price is higher than a realtor wants to ask, it can create conflict when trying to sell your house.
It’s a conflict that has begun to spring up more frequently, as growing numbers of people turn to online sites to price check before contacting a realtor. A total of 105.4 million people visited real estate websites in January 2015, an increase of about 24% from the year before, according to information provided by analytics website comScore. Within those categories, Zillow accounted for 57.4 million visitors to their site. Trulia, which was formally acquired by Zillow on February 17, accounted for another 36.3 million unique visitors, representing 71% of the total visitors in the real estate category.
Zillow’s staff knows that prices can vary from online to what the sign says in your front yard. It’s why the website has a section devoted to explaining how the “Zestimates” are created, the information that’s used, and some of the variation people can expect in certain areas around the country. Zillow lists Zestimates for about 100 million homes nationwide, but Zillow reportsit has an 8% median error rate across the country. That means that about half the Zestimates fall within 8% of the selling price, and about half fall out of that range.
To put that 8% into perspective, assume there’s a house that sells for $350,000. About half the time, Zestimates will show a fair price between $322,000 and $378,000, the 8% spread of about $28,000 on either side of that selling price. But the other half of the time, it could be outside that range. And as always when working with percentages, the value of the home directly impacts the range. For a home worth $500,000, that spread on either side of the selling price could be $40,000.
In certain parts of the country, that variation is even more severe. Twenty-five states have median error rates that fall below the national average, with Virginia and Nebraska at 5.5% and 5.7%, respectively. But West Virginia, at the other end of the spectrum, has a median error rate of 13.6%. Zillow doesn’t keep data on every county across the country, but some such as Dade County in Georgia have error rates of 35%. The highest listed in the data from December 2014 is Apache County in Arizona at 69.4%.