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.
Freddie Mac (OTCQB: FMCC) today released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®), showing that the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell to a 10-month low. Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist, says, “The U.S. economy remains on solid ground, inflation is contained and the threat of higher short-term rates is fading from view, which has allowed mortgage rates to drift down to their lowest level in 10 months. This is great news for consumers who will be looking for homes during the upcoming spring home buying season. Mortgage rates are essentially similar to a year ago, but today’s buyers have a larger selection of homes and more consumer bargaining power than they did the last few years.”
News Facts 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 4.41 percent with an average 0.4 point for the week ending February 7, 2019, down from last week when it averaged 4.46 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 4.32 percent.
15-year FRM this week averaged 3.84 percent with an average 0.4 point, down from last week when it averaged 3.89 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 3.77 percent.
5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 3.91 percent with an average 0.3 point, down from last week when it averaged 3.96 percent. A year ago at this time, the 5-year ARM averaged 3.57 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 link for the Definitions. Borrowers may still pay closing costs which are not included in the survey.
The 2015 American Community Survey data shows that New Jersey still leads the nation with the highest average annual real estate tax (RET) bill of $8,180—$7,528 more than RETs paid by Alabama’s homeowners. The overall distribution remained roughly unchanged since 2014, as the composition of the top and bottom ten remained the same. The map below clearly illustrates that the highest property tax states are found in the Northeast while—with the exception of Texas—southern states boast the lowest RET bills for their resident homeowners.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2015 American Community Survey, NAHB calculations
As property values vary widely by state, controlling for this variable produces a more instructive state-by-state comparison. In keeping with prior analyses, NAHB calculates this—the effective property tax rate as measured by taxes paid per $1,000 of home value—by dividing aggregate real estate taxes paid by the aggregate value of owner-occupied housing units within a state. As shown below, New Jersey has the dubious distinction of imposing the highest effective property tax rate—2.13% or $21.25 per $1,000 of home value. Hawaii levies the lowest effective rate in the nation—0.28%, or $2.84 per $1,000 of value.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2015 American Community Survey, NAHB calculations
Interstate differences among home values explain some, but not all, of the variance in real estate tax bills across the country. Texas is an illustrative example of a state in which home values hardly, if at all, explain real estate tax bills faced by homeowners. While Texas ranks only 32nd in the country for average home values, it is 12th in average real estate taxes paid. Other factors are clearly at play, and state and local government financing turns out to be a major one.
Property taxes account for 35% of state and local tax receipts, on average, but some state and local governments rely more heavily on property taxes as a source of revenue than others. Texas serves as an excellent example once again. Unlike most states, Texas does not impose a state income tax on its residents. Even though per capita government spending is tame compared with other states—7th lowest in the country—Texas and its localities must still find a way to fund government obligations. Local governments accomplish this by levying the 7th highest effective property tax rate (1.63%) in the country, on average. The state government partly makes up for foregone individual income tax revenue by imposing a tax on corporate revenue rather than income
Builder confidence in the market for newly-built single-family homes held steady in November at a level of 63 on the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI).
Builder sentiment has held well above 60 for the past three months, indicating that the single-family housing sector continues to show slow, gradual growth. Ongoing job creation, rising incomes and attractive mortgage rates are supporting demand in the single-family housing sector. These factors will help keep housing on a steady, upward path in the months ahead.
It is worth noting that most of the November HMI responses originated before the elections. Thus, builder confidence remained unchanged as the industry awaited the results.
Derived from a monthly survey that NAHB has been conducting for 30 years, the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index gauges builder perceptions of current single-family home sales and sales expectations for the next six months as “good,” “fair” or “poor.” The survey also asks builders to rate traffic of prospective buyers as “high to very high,” “average” or “low to very low.” Scores for each component are then used to calculate a seasonally adjusted index where any number over 50 indicates that more builders view conditions as good than poor.
The HMI components measuring buyer traffic rose one point to 47, and the index gauging current sales conditions held steady at 69. Meanwhile, the component charting sales expectations in the next six months fell two points to 69.
But it made us wonder: What about the (polar) opposite? What are the United States’ coldest markets? You know, the ones where there’s plenty of inventory, and shopping for a home doesn’t resemble the final round of the Hunger Games?
Of course, plenty of markets see minimal real estate activity because no one actually wants to live there—they’re economically depressed, with few jobs or anything else of note to draw residents. We didn’t want those. Instead, we focused on the nation’s 100 largest metropolitan areas, and identified the top 10 where homes don’t fly off the market at head-spinning speeds, and there isn’t crazy competition from other buyers.
And to make certain that these markets aren’t just good bargains, but also good places to live, we filtered out markets where the unemployment rate ranks in the bottom 20% of major U.S. metros.
Markets that are cold, but not frosty
The result is this list of our top 10 overlooked real estate markets in the United States, the places that offer excellent value in less hectic home-buying environments. Bargain hunters, rejoice!
“This year has been great for the real estate market nationally, and we’re seeing widespread health and strong demand,” says our chief economist, Jonathan Smoke. “These 10 markets are no exception. They are all healthy, they just aren’t as frenetic as other markets. In each of these areas, we’ve seen improved buying interest and faster sales compared to previous years.”
Sorry, West Coast: You didn’t make the cut.
But each of the following markets have some special attractions for home buyers, including some you probably aren’t aware of. So read on, for the chillest of the chill!
Tucked between the U.S. and Mexico, El Paso’s fate is tied to two countries. It’s positioned for tourism and trade opportunities, but the recent strength of the U.S. dollar has discouraged Mexican shoppers, who are spending less. Growth in employment in El Paso was slow after the recession that began in 2008, but the metro area outperformed the rest of the state in 2015, according to the Dallas Federal Reserve.
Housing prices are going up, but the market has yet to take off.
“New construction picked up, and homes that haven’t been sold in the previous years piled up,” says Realtor® Rudy Montoya. “We are in a buyer’s market.”
Bonus: The area’s warm climate and diverse culture makes it an attractive retirement community.
Special lures: The cost of living is low, the margaritas are fine (El Paso claims to have invented ’em) and the green chile enchiladas con arroz y frijoles are awesome.
Albany’s housing market may offer affordability, but buying a home here can still be a daunting task. Homeowners in Albany County pay a median of $4,166 in property tax, one of the highest in the country. Although it’s the capital of New York state, the number of government jobs has been shrinking since the recession.
However, after the city started marketing itself as a tech hub, new corporate sectors have been starting to take hold. Companies like IBM and GlobalFoundries have set up research centers and plants here, and the city is expected to fill 1,180 new jobs in software and Web development through 2020, according to the New York Department of Labor.
Special lure: Yeah, it’s freezing. But this place comes to life in the winter, with more sledding, ice skating, snowmobiling, and tubing per capita than just about any metro in the U.S. Invest in long johns.
The rolling waves and soft sand not only make Virginia Beach a beautiful place to call home, but also a pretty darn nice place to visit—which is why tourism accounted for $1.4 billion in revenue, and plenty of job growth in 2015, according to the U.S. Travel Association.
So how come it shows up as a “cold” market? Well, summer may be gorgeous, but Virginia Beach isn’t quite as appealing in winter. Home sales slow precipitously, from 64 days on the market to 96 days. The city is also vulnerable to hurricanes, most recently Hurricane Matthew.
Special lure: Do you consider fishing to be a sport? Then this is the city for you.
Strolling the neighborhoods of Winston-Salem, you can’t help notice the quaint historical architecture and tall oaks. It feels as if time has slowed down. So, too, has the pace of home sales. Winston-Salem homes typically take 19 days longer to sell than the national median.
But that doesn’t worry the locals.”These communities have long-standing history—we don’t have a huge influx of people moving in, so there’s no quick housing turnaround,” says Samuel Aubrey, CEO of Winston-Salem Regional Association of Realtors®. The upside: The market sees fewer price fluctuations, even during recessionary periods.
“People are attracted to Augusta because of the low cost of living,” says local Realtor Drew May. “And we’re just two hours from Atlanta and two hours from the coast.”
The Masters Golf Tournament enlivens the city once a year, with fans and tourists, but the rest of the year, it’s definitely … quiet. It’s a 9-to-5 city filled with blue-collar jobs manufacturing golf cars, medical supplies, and paperboard. The current unemployment rate of 5.8% is slightly higher than the national average. Still, it has tons of historic charm going for it, and an epic mountain-bike trail system.
Special lure: It was the home town ofJames Brown, the godfather of soul!
The second-largest metropolitan area in South Carolina, Columbia is a melting pot of global companies, students and educators, and a strong military presence. BlueCross BlueShield, and the University of South Carolina bolster the economy, with more than 10,000 jobs.
Yet one thing that makes home buyers hesitate about Columbia is the crime rate: Violent crime affects 65 in every 1 million people, 73% more than the national average. Some of the safest neighborhoods, however, include Lexington, Blythewood, and Lake Murray.
Special lure: This is a place in love with historical preservation.
Want to avoid getting punched in this city? Avoid playing Billy Joel’s 1982 song “Allentown” on a jukebox (if you can find it, that is). That ode to the sad decline of this blue-collar town still stings. When Joel sang, “Out in Bethlehem they’re killing time,” he meant nearby Bethlehem Steel, once the nation’s second-largest steel producer, which finally went bankrupt in 2003.
But after decades of struggle, Allentown is quietly finding its way along the comeback trail. Although the region’s economy is now a far cry from its heyday, manufacturing jobs are gaining ground, slowly but steadily. The region’s GDP now ranks 73rd out of the 382 largest metropolitan areas in the U.S., up two spots from 2014. Its gains translate into a 5% year-over-year gain in home prices.
Special lure: The Lehigh Valley IronPigs are one of the most beloved Triple-A minor league baseball teams in the nation. Go Pigs!
Greensboro, like many cities and children, has nicknames—some good, and some not so good. It’s called “GREENsboro” because it’s green and lush; it’s called “GreensBORING” because its downtown is abandoned after 5 p.m., though a major face-lift has given the neighborhood new life.
The typical cycle of selling a home is longer than three months, putting the market among the “underachievers.” Local Realtor Jim Wilhoit attributes slow sales to the high-end market, but says the market is healthy overall.
“Sales of homes that are above $400,000 are very slow,” Wilhoit says. “It’s more expensive than most people here can afford. And people who own a home in that price range are not actively looking to sell.”
Special lure: Greensboro has 33,000 active students, which makes this one of America’s true college towns.
Young people are leaving Birmingham: The city’s craft beer scene, growing green spaces, and a roster of talented chefs are not enough to keep the millennials. Between 2011 and 2015, the metro lost 3% of its population between the ages of 25 and 34, while nationally, the age group grew by 6%. The reason? Job scarcity drove many to nearby Nashville and Atlanta, for better employment and higher salaries.
Apart from creating new jobs, much of the city’s effort goes into reinventing downtown, with a luxury “rooftop residential” market—namely lofts and high-end condos. Will the real estate market make a comeback? Let’s give it some time.
Special lure: Half Moon cookies and gourmet popsicles.
Existing home sales, as reported by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), increased 3.2% in September and were up 0.6% from the same month a year ago, as first-time buyers seized a 34% share of sales. Total existing home sales in September increased to a seasonally adjusted rate of 5.47 million units combined for single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, up from a downwardly adjusted 5.30 million units in August. Investing in real estate is a profitable business. If you are a self-employed real estate investor who is willing to add properties to your portfolio, consider working with HARD MONEY LENDERS BOSTON – INVESTORS CHOICE LENDING.
September existing sales increased in all four regions, ranging from 5.7% in the Northeast to 0.9% in the South. Sales increased by 5.0% in the West in September, despite a 5.3% decrease in the August PHSI for that region. Year-over-year, September sales increased by 2.3% in the Midwest and 1.6% in the West, while falling 0.9% in the South. The Northeast remained unchanged year-over-year for September.
Total housing inventory increased by 1.5% in September, but remains 6.8% lower than its level a year ago. At the current sales rate, the September unsold inventory represents a 4.5-month supply, compared to a 4.6-month supply in August.
The August all-cash sales share was 21%, down from 22% in August and 24% during the same month a year ago. Individual investors purchased a 14% share in September, up from 13% in August and a year ago. The September first-time home buyer share of 34% was up from 31% in August, and 29% from the same month a year ago. Distressed sales, comprised of foreclosures and short sales, fell to 4%, the lowest rate since NAR launched that series in 2008.
The September median sales price of $234,200 was 5.6% above the same month a year ago, and represents the 55th consecutive month of year-over-year increases. The median condominium/co-op price of $222,100 in September was up 6.1% from the same month a year ago.
Sales of new single-family houses in the United States declined 1.9 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 563,000 in October of 2016, compared to market expectations of a 0.3 percent rise. Figures for the previous month were revised down by 19,000 to 574,000. New Home Sales in the United States averaged 651.70 Thousand from 1963 until 2016, reaching an all time high of 1389 Thousand in July of 2005 and a record low of 270 Thousand in February of 2011. New Home Sales in the United States is reported by the U.S. Census Bureau.
Sales of new single-family houses in the United States rose 3.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 593,000 in September of 2016, compared to market expectations of a 1 percent decline. Figures for the previous month were revised down by 34,000 to 575,000. New Home Sales in the United States averaged 651.94 Thousand from 1963 until 2016, reaching an all time high of 1389 Thousand in July of 2005 and a record low of 270 Thousand in February of 2011. New Home Sales in the United States is reported by the U.S. Census Bureau.
Home affordability is at the worst level in seven years, with 24% of the U.S. county housing markets less affordable than their historic affordability averages in the third quarter, the most recent ATTOM Data Solutions Home Affordability Index for third quarter 2016 recorded.
This level is not only up from 22% of markets in the previous quarter, but it is up from 19% of markets a year ago.
The only other time affordability came in worse than this was in third quarter of 2009 when 47% of markets were less affordable than their historic affordability averages.
The affordability index is based on the percentage of average wages needed to make monthly house payments on a median-priced home with a 30-year fixed rate and a 3% down payment — including property taxes and insurance.
“The improving affordability trend we noted in our second quarter report reversed course in the third quarter as home price appreciation accelerated in the majority of markets and wage growth slowed in the majority of local markets as well as nationwide, where average weekly wages declined in the first quarter of this year following 13 consecutive quarters with year-over-year increases,” said Daren Blomquist, senior vice president at ATTOM Data Solutions.
“This unhealthy combination resulted in worsening affordability in 63% of markets despite mortgage rates that are down 45 basis points from a year ago.
According to the report, out of the 414 counties analyzed in the report, 101 counties (24%) had an affordability index below 100 in the third quarter of 2016, meaning that buying a median-priced home in that county was less affordable than the historic average for that county going back to the first quarter of 2005.
Key counties highlighted include: Harris County (Houston), Texas; Kings County (Brooklyn), New York; Dallas County, Texas; Bexar County (San Antonio), Texas; and Alameda County, California in the San Francisco metro area.
Despite the negative news, Blomquist did point out one positive area.
“Some silver lining in this report is that affordability actually improved in some of the highest-priced markets that have been bastions of bad affordability, mostly the result of annual home price appreciation slowing to low single-digit percentages in those markets,” Blomquist continued.
He explained that this is an indication that home prices are finally responding to affordability constraints — a modicum of good news for prospective buyers who have been priced out of those high-priced markets.
This infographic from ATTOM Data Solutions shows the U.S. home affordability affliction and some possible antidotes.
How has the housing market changed since the recession? A new report by Apartment List paints a less-than-positive picture for renters. In the aftermath of the mortgage crisis, many of the costs of homeownership have gone done, even as homeownership rates reach record lows. At the same time, costs associated with renting have risen at a time when more and more Americans are renting apartments and single-family homes.
While homeownership rates have reached historic lows across the country, hitting numbers not seen since the ‘60s, three particular areas and demographics have seen the biggest loss. According to the Apartment List analysis of Census data, the recent downturn really hit those living in Sunbelt Cities (Las Vegas, Orlando, Atlanta), Americans under 45 years of age, and Hispanic and African-American consumers.
In fact, minorities experienced the largest drops in homeownership: Hispanics (-4.0%), African Americans (-5.5%), and other minorities (-6.7%). Non-Hispanic whites were somewhat less affected, with a homeownership decline of -3.3%.
While a drop in the national homeownership rate has serious implications for long-term financial health, those who do own are often reaping the benefits of lower costs, especially compared to renters. Historically low interest rates mean monthly payments have dropped 13% since 2007. That can really add up: the median monthly mortgage payment is $2,754, but widespread refinancing has cut that to $2,263, a savings of roughly $6,000 a year. With median household income at $54,000 in 2014, that extra money can provide a significant boost.
The story is much different for renters. Rents have increased an average of 3.7% nationwide, exacerbating differences between owners and renters. For instance, in Houston, homeownership costs have dropped $289 since the Recession, while the cost to rent has risen by $115.
The median national rent increased from $901 to $934. While $33 may seem small, held up against a steep 14% drop in inflation-adjusted income for renters, and it becomes much more significant.
Like many aspects of the U.S. economy in the last decade, the stratification of the housing market may only increase inequality. Those with the money to buy are reaping the advantages of historically low costs, while those who can’t, especially Millennials and minorities, are being locked out and missing out on a chance to build household wealth.