Low home prices and mortgage rates have combined to push home affordability to record levels nationwide. Home buyers are taking advantage.
The Pending Home Sales Index rose 7 percent in November to rise to its highest level since April 2010, the last month of last year’s home buyer tax credit program.
The Pending Home Sales Index is published monthly by the National Association of REALTORS®. It measures homes under contract nationwide, but not yet “sold”.
In this way, the Pending Home Sales Index is different from other housing market indicators. It’s a “forward-looking” figure; a predictor of future home sales. According to the National Association of REALTORS®, more than 80% of homes under contract close within 60 days.
By contrast, housing data such as the Existing Home Sales report and the New Home Sales report “look back”.
November marks the second straight month of Pending Home Sales Index improvement. The housing market metric made big gains of 10 percent in October 2011, as well.
On a regional basis, each part of the country showed an increase in homes under contract.
- Northeast Region: +8.1 percent from October 2011
- Midwest Region : +3.3 percent from October 2011
- South Region : +4.3 percent from October 2011
- West Region : +14.9 percent from October 2011
However, here in Madeira, we must discount the value of even the regional data, somewhat. Like else in real estate, the volume of homes going under contract vary by locality.
Throughout the West Region, for example, the region in which pending home sales increased the most from October, there are nearly a dozen states. Undoubtedly, some of those states performed better than others in terms of “homes under contract”, but we don’t have an indication of which states those were.
In addition, within each state, every city, town, and neighborhood realized its own unique market in November, and produced its own sales statistics.
For buyers and sellers throughout Kentucky and the country, therefore, it’s more important to watch data on a local level than on a national one. Reports like the Pending Home Sales Index are helpful in showing national trends, but as an individual, what you need are local trends.
For local real estate data, be sure to ask your agent.
Home resales moved to a 10-month high in November, the latest in a series of strong showings from the housing sector.
According to the National Association of REALTORS®, November’s Existing Home Sales rose to a seasonally-adjusted, annualized 4.42 million units nationwide — a 4 percent climb from October 2011.
An “existing home” is a home that has been previously occupied and cannot be categorized as new construction.
Home buyers and sellers throughout Madeira should take note of November’s numbers because — behind the headlines — there’s a series of statistics that foretell higher home prices ahead.
First, the total number of homes for sale nationwide dipped to 2.58 million, an 18% reduction from November 2010 and represents the fewest number of homes for sale since February 2007.
At the current sales pace, the complete home resale inventory would be sold in 7.0 months.
And, second, the real estate trade group reports that 33% of all homes under contract “failed” for some reason last month.
Contract failures can occur because of mortgage denials in underwriting; home inspection issues; and homes appraising for less than their respective purchase prices.
In other words, despite a reduction in the number of homes for sale, and a rash of failed contracts, Existing Home Sales volume is still on the rise.
Broken-down by buyer-type, here’s to whom home sellers were selling in November :
- First-time buyers : 35% of home resales, up from 34% in October 2011
- Repeat buyers : 46% of home resales, down from 48% in October 2011
- Investor buyers : 19% of home resales, up from 18% in October 2011
Given high demand for home resales and shrinking home supplies, we should expect that Oakley home prices will rise through December 2011 and into early-2012, at least. Recent Housing Starts data supports this notion.
Thankfully, mortgage rates remain low. Low mortgage rates help keep homes affordable.
If you’re waiting for home prices to reach its bottom, you may have missed your window.
After 3 consecutive months of easing, the Pending Home Sales Index jumped 10 percent in October, lending credence to the belief that housing is in recovery.
The Pending Home Sales Index is a monthly publication from the National Association of REALTORS®. It measures the number of homes under contract to sell nationwide. October’s reading is the highest for all of 2011, and the second-highest dating back to April 2010.
April 2010 was the last month of the last year’s federal home buyer tax credit.
For buyers and sellers in Mason and nationwide, the Pending Home Sales Index is a housing metric worth watching. Different from the Existing Home Sales and New Home Sales reports which report on “the past”, the Pending Home Sales Index is a forward-looking housing market indicator.
According to the National Association of REALTORS®, 80% of homes under contract close within 2 months.
The majority of the rest close within Months 3 and 4.
The spike in October’s Pending Home Sales Index, therefore, foretells a strong Existing Home Sales report for November and December. Not that we should be surprised! Home builders have been telling us for weeks that the market is strengthening, and that home supplies are at multi-year lows.
The only wild-card is the market’s out-sized contract failure rate. One in three pending home sales failed to close in October — nearly double the rate of the month prior and 4 times the rate of October 2010. Should this high failure rate continue, the Pending Home Sales Index’s role as a forward-looking indicator would be muted.
Overall, though, new buyer demand for housing accompanied a smaller home supply will result in higher home prices through 2012. And, with mortgage rates expected to rise, monthly carrying costs will be higher, too.
Looking at the data, the best time to buy a home may be right now.
The housing market continues to signal that a broad rebound is underway. In October, despite sparse home inventory, the number of properties sold increased 1.4% nationwide.
According to data from the National Association of REALTORS®, on a seasonally-adjusted, annualized basis, October Existing Home Sales gained 70,000 units as compared to September, registering 4.97 million existing homes sold overall.
An “existing home” is a home that has been previously occupied and, as compared to prior months, the stock of homes for sale is depleted.
Just 3.3 million homes were listed for sale last month. This represents a 2 percent drop from September and marks the sparsest home resale inventory of 2011.
The current home supply would last 8.0 months at today’s sales pace — the fastest rate since January 2010.
The real estate trade group’s report contained other noteworthy statistics, too :
- 34 percent of all sales were made to first-time buyers
- 29 percent of all sales were made with cash
- 28 percent of all sales were for foreclosed homes, or short sales
It also said that one-third of transactions “failed” as a result of homes not appraising for the purchase price; failure to achieve a mortgage approval; and, insurmountable home inspection issues.
This 33% failure rate is huge as compared to September 2011 (18%) and October 2010 (8%). It underscores the importance of getting pre-qualified to purchase, and of selecting a home “in good condition”.
For today’s Cincinnati home buyer, October’s Existing Home Sales may be a “buy signal”. Supplies are falling and sales are increasing. Elementary economics says home prices should begin rising, if they haven’t already.
Remember : The data we’re seeing is already 30 days old. Today’s market may be markedly improved already.
The good news is that mortgage rates remain low. Freddie Mac reports that the average 30-year fixed rate mortgage rate is 4.000% with 0.7 discount points, making homes as affordable as they’ve been in history.
With rising home values, you may end up paying more to purchase your new home, but at least you’ll pay less to finance it.
Nationwide, fewer homes are going under contract to sell.
According to the National Association of REALTORS®, the Pending Home Sales Index fell 5 percent last month. September marks the fourth consecutive month in which the index has dropped.
The Pending Home Sales Index is a monthly index which measures the number of homes under contract to sell, but not yet closed. As such, it’s among the few “forward-looking” housing indicators; a data set meant to predict future home sales.
80% of homes under contract close within 2 months so, if the September Pending Home Sales Index is to be believed, we should expect home sales to decline through October and November.
And that’s before we account for cancelled contracts.
Also from the National Association of REALTORS®, we learn that 18 percent of homes under contract failed to close in September. This is double the failure rate from September 2010 and it, too, should drag Existing Home Sales volume lower this fall.
On a seasonally-adjusted, regional basis, the Pending Home Sales Index fell everywhere.
- Northeast Region: -4.7% from August
- Midwest Region : -6.2% from August
- South Region : -5.5% from August
- West Region : -2.1% from August
For home buyers and sellers in Madeira , though, regional data remains too broad to be useful. Housing markets are local, meaning that each block on each street on each city has its own distinct economy. When 9 states are grouped into a single “region”, it’s neither helpful nor relevant to people making buy/sell decisions.
That said, the Pending Home Sales Index remains important because it’s about housing, and housing is a keystone of the U.S. economic recovery.
The market looks ideal for buyers. Home prices are rising, but slowly; and mortgage rates remain near rock-bottom levels. Home affordability is high and should remain that way for the next few weeks.
If you’re shopping for a home, it’s an excellent time to go under contract.
Despite fewer homes for sale nationwide, the number of home resales remains steady.
According to data from the National Association of REALTORS®, on a seasonally-adjusted, annualized basis, September’s Existing Home Sales eased by 150,000 units, falling to 4.91 million units nationwide.
An “existing home” is a home that’s been previously occupied and, despite last month’s drop, September’s sales volume remains the second-highest on record since April 2011.
This statistic is noteworthy for two reasons :
- There are 9.9% fewer homes available for sale as compared to 12 months ago
- Contract “failures” are twice as high as compared to September 2010, now averaging 18 percent nationwide
A contract failure is typically the result of homes not appraising for the purchase price; mortgage denials in the underwriting process; and, insurmountable home inspection issues.
Because sales volume is steady, we can infer that more buyers are “in the market” than the final sales tallies would have us believe. This notion is also evident in the Existing Home Supply data.
In September, the number of homes for sale fell by 69,000 nationwide. At the current pace of sales, it would take 8.5 months to “sell out” the complete national inventory. This is more than 2 months faster as compared to September 2010 — a major improvement for the housing market and a sign that home prices should rise soon.
Today’s Madeira market exemplifies Supply and Demand. Demand for homes is holding steady as home inventories fall. This creates pressure for home buyers to make offers, and multiple bidding situations become more common. Negotiation leverage shifts to the sellers and the result is that buyers pay higher prices for homes.
Thankfully, mortgage rates remain low.
Freddie Mac reports that the 30-year fixed rate mortgage ticked lower this week, averaging 4.11% nationwide with 0.8 discount points. This means that mortgage payments are lower by $46 per $100,000 borrowed as compared to the high-point of the year.
You may pay more for a new home, in other words, but you’ll pay a lot less to finance it.
Are home resales rebounding?
According to the National Association of REALTORS®, Existing Home Sales rose 8 percent in August from the month prior, and 19 percent as compared to August of last year.
“Existing homes” are homes that are previously owned; ones that cannot be considered new construction.
A total of 5.0 million existing homes were sold last month on a seasonally-adjusted, annualized basis. This is slightly better than the 12-month home resale average, a statistic partially powered by “distressed sales”. Distressed homes — homes in various stages of foreclosures or sold via short sale — accounted for 31 percent of all home resales in August.
At the current rate of sales, the national home resale inventory would be depleted in 8.5 months. This pace is a full month faster as compared to July, and the lowest home supply reading since March 2011.
Other noteworthy facts from the August Existing Home Sales report :
- There are currently 3.58 million existing homes for sale nationwide
- 29 percent of home buyers paid cash in August
- Real estate investors bought 22% of homes in August, up from 18% in July
Home prices throughout Cincinnati are based on Supply and Demand and, at least right now, it appears the supply is dropping. Furthermore, with mortgage rates at all-time lows, it’s reasonable to expect demand to pick up. These two conditions should lead home prices higher.
If you’re shopping for a home right now, recognize the trends and work them to your advantage. It may be “cheapest” to buy now.
After 3 straight months of gains, the Pending Home Sales Index slipped 1 percent in July. The monthly report is published by the National Association of REALTORS® and measures the number of home under contract to sell nationwide.
The Pending Home Sales Index is closely watched by Wall Street and analysts because it’s a forward-looking housing market indicator. Unlike most housing market data, though, Pending Home Sales forecasts a future housing market event. In this case, the Existing Home Sales report.
In its methodology, the Pending Home Sales Index states that 80% of homes under contract close within 2 months, with most of the remaining home going to closing within Months 3 and 4.
We would expect home sales data to taper into the fall buying season, but this year, they may taper more than normal. This is because, in a separate report, the National Association of REALTORS® said that contract cancellation rates are running high.
As compared to a 4 percent contract cancellation rate in May 2011, June and July both registered 16 percent. This means that fewer homes tallied as part of July’s Pending Home Sales Index will show up as “closed sales” this fall.
Contracts can be canceled for any number of reasons including more stringent mortgage guidelines, appraisals falling short of the purchase price, and changing mortgage loan limits.
For home buyers in Mason , the Pending Home Sales Index may represent an opportunity. Not only are fewer homes going under contract nationwide, but with cancellation rates spiking, sellers may be more willing to “make a deal”.
Note, though, like all real estate, the pace at which homes go under contract is a “local” statistic; you can’t assume national data applies to all markets equally. Your home market, for example, may out-perform — or under-perform — the national average.
For a closer look at what’s happening on your street including the speed at which homes are selling, talk to a local real estate agent.
Home resales slipped in July.
According to the National Association of REALTORS®, Existing Home Sales nationwide fell to 4.67 million units on a seasonally-adjusted annualized basis last month. It’s the fourth straight month below the 5 million mark, and the report’s lowest reading since November 2010.
An “existing home” is a home that’s been previously occupied or owned.
In addition, the Existing Home Sales report showed home supplies rising nationwide. At the current pace of sales, in other words, the complete, national “For Sale” inventory would be exhausted in 9.4 months. This, too, is the worst reading since November 2010.
On a units basis, however, the number of homes for sale actually fell in July. As compared to June, home resale inventory dropped 65,000 units to 3.65 million.
From these figures, we can infer that, despite low mortgage rates and lagging home values, buyer activity is slowing in Kentucky and nationwide. This may be seasonal, or it may be a long-term trend.
Either way, there’s opportunity for today’s home buyers.
With mortgage rates at all-time lows, home affordability is peaking. More households can afford housing payments than during any time in history and with the fall season approaching, buyers in Mason may find contracts negotiations to be more “friendly”.
This can mean lower sale prices and larger concessions from sellers — the hallmark of a Buyer’s Market.
It’s a good time to look at your options. Talk to your real estate agent and see what’s out there for you. Low home prices may persist, but low mortgage rates likely won’t.