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U.S. home prices on the rise in February

Analysts see no end in sight to the increases

The increases in home prices keep on coming.

Property information provider CoreLogic reports its Home Price Index (HPI) shows housing prices across the U.S. were up 7% in February from the same month a year ago.

On a month-over-month basis, prices rose 1%.

“Home prices and rents have risen the most in local markets with high demand and limited supply, such as Seattle, Portland and Denver,” said CoreLogic Chief Economist Dr. Frank Nothaft. “The rise in housing costs has been largest for lower-tier-priced homes.”

According to Nothaft, from December to February in Seattle, the HPI shot up 12% and the CoreLogic single-family rent index jumped 6% percent for all price tiers compared with the same period a year earlier.

He notes, though, that when looking at only lower-cost homes in Seattle, the price increase was 13% and the rent increase was 7%.

In the year ahead

The CoreLogic HPI Forecast indicates home prices will increase by 4.7 percent on a year-over-year basis from February 2017 to February 2018, and on a month-over-month basis home prices are expected to increase by 0.4 percent from February 2017 to March 2017.

“Home prices continue to grow at a torrid pace so far in 2017 and these gains are likely to continue well into the future,” said CoreLogic President and CEO Frank Martell. “Home prices are at peak levels in many major markets and the appreciation is being driven by a number of dynamics -- high demand, stronger employment, lean supplies and affordability -- that will continue to play out in the coming years.”

The increases in home prices keep on coming.Property information provider CoreLogic reports its Home Price Index (HPI) shows housing prices across the...
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Annual gain in home prices sets 31-month high

January prices were also up from December's level

Home price gains continued in January on both a year-over-year and month-over-month basis.

According to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Indices, the National Home Price NSA Index, covering all nine U.S. census divisions, jumped 5.9% from a year earlier, setting a 31-month high.

The 10-City Composite was up 5.1%, and the 20-City Composite reported a rise of 5.7%.

Seattle, Portland, and Denver had the highest year-over-year gains among the 20 cities over each of the last 12 months. Seattle led the way in January with an 11.3% year-over-year price increase, followed by Portland (+9.7%) and Denver (+9.2%).

Twelve cities reported greater price increases in the year ending January 2017 versus the year ending December 2016.

“Housing and home prices continue on a generally positive upward trend,” said David M. Blitzer, managing director and chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices.

“The recent action by the Federal Reserve raising the target for the Fed funds rate by a quarter percentage point is expected to add less than a quarter percentage point to mortgage rates in the near future. Given the market’s current strength and the economy, the small increase in interest rates isn’t expected to dampen home buying. If we see three or four additional increases this year, rising mortgage rates could become a concern."

Month-over-month

Before seasonal adjustment, the National Index posted a month-over-month gain of 0.2% in January. The 10-City Composite was up 0.3% and the 20-City Composite inched ahead 0.2%.

After seasonal adjustment, the National Index recorded a 0.6% month-over-month increase, while both the 10-City and 20-City Composites each reported a 0.9% advance. Thirteen of 20 cities reported increases in January before seasonal adjustment; after seasonal adjustment, 19 cities saw prices rise.

“While prices vary month-to-month and across the country, the national price trend has been positive since the first quarter of 2012,” said Blitzer. “Tight supplies and rising prices may be deterring some people from trading up to a larger house, further aggravating supplies because fewer people are selling their homes. At some point, this process will force prices to level off and decline -- however we don’t appear to be there yet.” 

Home price gains continued in January on both a year-over-year and month-over-month basis.According to the S&P; CoreLogic Case-Shiller Indices, the Nat...
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House prices flat in January

Prices were up, though on an annual basis

Housing prices across the U.S. were unchanged in January, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) seasonally adjusted monthly House Price Index (HPI).

This is just the second month since early 2012 that the HPI has failed to increase. The other occurrence was in November, 2013. The previously reported December HPI increase of 0.4% was unrevised.

On a year-over-year basis -- from January 2016 to January 2017 -- house prices were up 5.7%.

The FHFA monthly HPI is calculated using home sales price information from mortgages sold to, or guaranteed by, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Regional performance

For the nine census divisions, seasonally adjusted monthly price changes from December, 2016 to January, 2017 ranged from -2.0% in the East South Central division to +0.6 percent in the Pacific division.

The 12-month changes were all positive, ranging from +3.5% in the East South Central division to +8.3% in the Mountain division.

The complete report may be found on the FHFA website

Housing prices across the U.S. were unchanged in January, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) seasonally adjusted monthly House Price In...
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Home prices post annual and month-over-month gains in January

The CoreLogic forecast calls for more of the same

There's a good chance the value of your home went up during January.

Property information provider CoreLogic reports its Home Price Index (HPI) shows home prices nationwide -- including distressed sales -- shot up 6.9% in January from the same month a year ago and inched ahead 0.7% from December 2016.

“With lean for-sale inventories and low rental vacancy rates, many markets have seen housing prices outpace inflation,” said CoreLogic Chief Economist Dr. Frank Nothaft.

Looking ahead

The increase in values seems likely to continue.

“The spring home buying season is shaping up to be one of the strongest in recent memory,” said Frank Martell, president and CEO of CoreLogic. “A potent mix of progressive economic recovery, demographics, tight housing stocks and continued low mortgage rates are expected to support this robust market outlook for the foreseeable future.”

According to the CoreLogic HPI Forecast, home prices should advance of 4.8% from January 2017 to January 2018 and increase 0.1% from January to February.

There's a good chance the value of your home went up during January.Property information provider CoreLogic reports its Home Price Index (HPI) shows ho...
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Economy: Home prices, jobless claims on the rise

House prices posted a year-over-year gain of more than 6%

Home prices across the U.S. edged up 0.5% from October to November rose in November, and posted a year-over-year advance of 6.1%.

At the same time, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) revised its monthly House Price Index (HPI) downward to show a gain of 0.3% instead of the 0.4% increase initially reported.

Regional breakdown

For the nine census divisions, monthly price changes ranged from -0.2% in the South Atlantic division to +1.5% in the Pacific division.

The 12-month changes were all positive, ranging from +4.7% in the Middle Atlantic division to +7.7% in the Pacific division.

The monthly HPI is calculated using home sales price information from mortgages sold to, or guaranteed by, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

The complete report may be found on the FHFA website.

Jobless claims

An increase last week in the number of people filing first-time applications for state unemployment benefits.

The Department of Labor (DOL) reports initial jobless claims rose by 22,000 in the week ending January 21 to a seasonally adjusted 259,000. The previous week's level was revised up by 3,000 to 237,000.

The four-week moving average was down by 2,000 from the previous week to 245,500 -- the lowest level since November 3, 1973, when it was 244,000.

The four-week moving average, due to its relative lack of volatility, is considered a more accurate gauge of the labor market.

The full report is available on the DOL website.

Home prices across the U.S. edged up 0.5% from October to November rose in November, and posted a year-over-year advance...
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Key gauge of home prices zooms to new high

Many cities hit post-recession peaks

Home prices in September continued their rise across the country over the last 12 months.

According to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price NSA Index, which covers all nine U.S. census divisions, the National index was up 5.5% on a year-over-year basis.

The 10-City Composite jumped 4.3%, while the 20-City Composite was up 5.1%.

Seattle, Portland, and Denver enjoyed the highest year-over-year gains among the 20 cities over each of the last eight months. Seattle led the way with an 11.0% year-over-year increase, followed by Portland at 10.9% and Denver with an 8.7% advance.

In all, 12 cities reported greater price increases in the year ending September 2016 versus the year ending August 2016.

“The new peak set by the S&P Case-Shiller CoreLogic National Index will be seen as marking a shift from the housing recovery to the hoped-for start of a new advance” said David M. Blitzer, Managing Director and Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “While seven of the 20 cities previously reached new post-recession peaks, those that experienced the biggest booms – Miami, Tampa, Phoenix, and Las Vegas -- remain well below their all-time highs.”

Month-over-month

Before seasonal adjustment, on a month-over-month basis, the National Index posted a September gain of 0.4%, with both the 10-City Composite and the 20-City Composite up 0.1%.

After seasonal adjustment, the National Index rose 0.8%, the 10-City Composite was up 0.2%, and the 20-City Composite advanced 0.4%.

Fifteen of 20 cities reported increases in September before seasonal adjustment; after seasonal adjustment, all 20 cities saw prices rise.

Blitzer said the market is showing several positive signals, including a rise in sales of existing and new homes and new-home construction at a post-recession peak.

Home prices in September continued their rise across the country over the last 12 months.According to the S&P; CoreLogic Case-Shiller U.S. National Hom...
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House prices modest gain in third quarter

Jobless claims were on the rise last week

The price of houses across the U.S. continued to gain in value during the third quarter.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) reports its House Price Index (HPI) was up 1.5% in the July-August quarter and 6.1% percent from the third quarter of 2015 following an advance of 1.2% in the second quarter.

On a month-over-month basis, the HPI rose 0.6% in September from August.

“Our data indicate that the deceleration in home price growth that we observed in late spring proved to be short-lived,” said FHFA Supervisory Economist Andrew Leventis. “While price growth in select markets has cooled somewhat for the U.S. as a whole, the third quarter showed no evidence of a widespread slowdown.”

While the HPI rose 6.1% during last year's third quarter, prices of other goods and services were nearly unchanged. The inflation-adjusted price of homes rose approximately 6.0% over the last year.

The HPI is calculated using home sales price information from mortgages sold to, or guaranteed by, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Report highlights

  • Home prices rose in 49 states between the third quarter of 2015 and the third quarter of 2016; Delaware and the District of Columbia were the only areas not to see price increases. The top five states in annual appreciation were: 1) Florida 10.7%; 2) Oregon 10.4%; 3) Washington 10.4%; 4) Colorado 10.0%; and 5) Utah 9.5%.
  • Among the 100 most populated metropolitan areas in the U.S., annual price increases were greatest in Tacoma-Lakewood, Wash. (MSAD), where prices increased by 12.9%. Prices were weakest in New Haven-Milford, Conn., where they fell 1.7%.
  • Of the nine census divisions, the South Atlantic division experienced the strongest increase in the third quarter, posting a 1.8% quarterly increase and a 7.1% increase since the third quarter of last year. House price appreciation was weakest in the New England division, where prices rose 0.8% from the previous quarter.

The full report may be found on the FHFA website.

Jobless claims

First-time applications for state unemployment benefits blipped higher in the week preceding Thanksgiving.

The Department of Labor (DOL) reports initial jobless claims rose 18,000 in the week ending November 19 to a seasonally adjusted 251,000.

Even with that increase, initial claims have been below 300,000 for 90 consecutive weeks, the longest streak since 1970.

The four-week moving average, which many economists believe is a more accurate gauge of the economy because of its lack of volatility, came in at 251,000 -- down 2,000 from the previous week.

The complete report is available on the DOL website.

The price of houses across the U.S. continued to gain in value during the third quarter.The Federal Housing Finance Age...
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A slowdown in home price gains

The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller National Index is close to a record high

July was another month of solid gains in home prices, according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Indices, with the index covering all nine U.S. census divisions showing a 5.1% annual gain.

The 10-City Composite was up 4.2%, down from the 4.3% annual gain posted in June, while the 20-City Composite rise of 5.0% was down 0.1% from June.

The highest year-over-year gains among the 20 cities over each of the last six months came in Portland, Seattle, and Denver. Portland led the way in July with a year-over-year price increase of 12.4%, followed by Seattle at 11.2%, and Denver with a 9.4% advance. Nine cities reported greater price increases in the year ending July 2016 versus the year ending June 2016.

“The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller National Index is within 0.6% of the record high set in July 2006, said David M. Blitzer, managing director and chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “Seven of the 20 cities have already set new record highs. The 10-year, 20-year, and National indices have been rising at about 5% per year over the last 24 months. Eight of the cities are seeing prices up 6% or more in the last year.”

Month-over-month

Before seasonal adjustment, the National Index was up 0.7% from June. The 10-City Composite recorded a month-over-month increase of 0.5%, while the 20-City Composite was up 0.6%.

After seasonal adjustment, the National Index recorded a 0.4% month-over-month increase, the 10-City Composite was down 0.1%, and the 20-City Composite was unchanged.

After seasonal adjustment, 12 cities saw prices rise, two were unchanged, and six cities reported declines.

July was another month of solid gains in home prices, according to the S&P; CoreLogic Case-Shiller Indices, with the index covering all nine U.S. census di...
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Coldwell Banker ranks the 10 most affordable housing markets

If you're willing to relocate, there are affordable homes out there

If you would like to buy a house but happen to work in California's Silicon Valley, you might have trouble, even on a tech company salary.

According to Coldwell Banker's latest ranking, the 10 most expensive housing markets in the U.S. are all located in California. Six are located in Silicon Valley.

“Silicon Valley has been at the forefront of innovation in the U.S. for years, with leading tech companies attracting some of the brightest entrepreneurial minds in the world,” said Coldwell Banker CEO Charlie Young. “Clearly, the amenities of the region are also impacting home prices.”

But for people who can live anywhere, or who are willing to relocate, there are still some enticing deals out there. And it isn't necessary to move to the middle of nowhere to find them.

While the average four bedroom, two bath home in Saratoga, Calif., goes for nearly $2.5 million, Coldwell Banker found the same type homes going for less than $250,000 in nearly 40% of the markets it serves.

Top 10 most affordable cities

Detroit

The Motor City has been through a very rough patch that includes bankruptcy, but in the last couple of years it has been on the upswing. Part of the draw has been bargain-priced real estate. In Coldwell Banker's survey, Detroit is the nation's most affordable housing market with an average home price of just $64,110.

Cleveland

Cleveland is another Rust Belt city on the comeback trail, and is now basking in the glow of an NBA championship. Start-up businesses are thriving, supported by a private initiative by Cleveland Cavaliers star Lebron James. Low prices for houses have helped draw Millennials back. The average four bedroom, two bath home goes for $73,073.

Park Forest, Ill.

Park Forest is a community of about 22,000 located south of Chicago that straddles Cook and Will counties. The average home price is $78,392.

Jamestown, N.Y.

Jamestown lies in the southwestern corner of New York near the Pennsylvania border. The city of 30,000 is an easy drive to Pittsburgh and offers natural beauty for an affordable price. The average home price is $88,891.

Utica, N.Y

While New York has a reputation for a high cost of living, the Coldwell Banker survey finds two of the state's cities among the 10 most affordable markets. Utica, just west of Syracuse, has a population of 62,225 and an average home price of $92,891.

Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

Pennsylvania also adds two housing markets to the list. Wilkes-Barre is city of 41,000 people, clustered with Scranton and Hazelton, convenient to both Philadelphia and New York. The average house goes for $94.436.

Scranton, Pa.

Scranton, one of Wilkes-Barre's partner cities, has a population of 76,000 and is home to the fictional Dunder-Mifflin paper company, of the TV sitcom “The Office.” The real life price of a home is $108,842.

Huntington, Ind.

Huntington, with a population of 17,000, is located southwest of Ft. Wayne. Its average four bedroom house goes for $105,614.

Augusta, Ga.

Augusta is in a beautiful part of the world, as evidenced each April when it becomes the center of the professional golf universe. A home in the home of The Masters goes for an average of $106,567.

Palatka, Fla.

Florida real estate prices have made a comeback since the housing crash, but you can still find bargains, especially if you look in Palatka, a town of 10,000 on the St. John's River. The average home there sells for $110,655.

If you would like to buy a house but happen to work in California's Silicon Valley, you might have trouble, even on a tech company salary.According to...
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Why home prices may continue to rise

Because there simply are not enough of them for sale

Month after month it seems to be the same story. Home prices go up, even if sales for the month are flat, or even lower.

It's a trend that has been in place since the housing recovery began, and it has begun to affect affordability.

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index (HOI) released last week found that 62% of new and existing homes sold between the beginning of April and the end of June were affordable to families earning the median income of $65,700. That's down from 65% in the first quarter.

Nationally, the median home price increased $17,000, from $223,000 in the first quarter to $240,000 in the second quarter. Interest rates are below 4%, but that's not what's driving the dramatic price rise.

During the housing bubble, prices rose because almost anyone could qualify for a mortgage. The demand for housing sent prices skyrocketing to unsustainable levels.

Not enough homes for sale

Demand is also responsible for rising prices today, but for very different reasons than a decade ago. There simply are not enough homes for sale. Fewer existing homes and fewer new homes.

Jonathan Smoke, chief economist for realtor.com, says new home construction has failed to keep up with demand since the recovery. He doesn't expect to see that changing soon.

“Single-family is continuing to show gains, but the gains in permits are weaker than the gains in starts,” Smoke said in an email to ConsumerAffairs. “Builders are starting what they already permitted earlier this year but are not bullish about demand this fall and winter.”

New homes typically cost more than existing homes and housing experts say construction costs have gone up since the housing crash. For that reason, builders have largely focused on multi-family units and luxury single-family homes.

Smoke says the seasonally adjusted rate of permitting in July was not statistically significant. On a year-to-date basis, permits are up in every region but the Northeast.

Shrinking inventory

At the same time, there are fewer existing homes for sale. In its June existing home sales report, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) noted that inventory levels continue to decline. Total housing inventory at the end of the month was 2.12 million homes, nearly 6% fewer than a year ago. Inventory was at a 4.6-month supply, down form 4.7 months in May.

With supply and demand out of balance, the result is fewer renters can afford to buy. Those who can afford it may have difficulty finding a house they like.

Month after month it seems to be the same story. Home prices go up, even if sales for the month are flat, or even lower.It's a trend that has been in p...
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Housing affordability slips in second quarter

Higher prices are getting the blame

Rising home prices outweighed falling mortgage rates when it came to housing affordability in the second quarter of the year.

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index (HOI) found that 62% of new and existing homes sold between the beginning of April and the end of June were affordable to families earning the U.S. median income of $65,700. In the first quarter it was 65%.

The national median home price increased from $223,000 in the first quarter to $240,000 in the second quarter. At the same time, average mortgage rates dipped from 4.05% to 3.88%.

“Though we have seen a modest drop in affordability in the second quarter, the HOI is still fairly high by historical standards,” said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. “Rising employment, favorable mortgage rates and increasing household formations will keep the housing market on a gradual, upward path during the rest of the year.”

Most and least affordable

For the third consecutive quarter, Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, Ohio-Pa., was rated the nation’s most affordable major housing market, with 91.1% of all new and existing homes sold in the second quarter affordable to families earning the area’s median income of $53,900.

Rounding out the top five affordable major housing markets in respective order were Scranton-Wilkes-Barre-Hazleton, Pa.; Syracuse, N.Y.; Harrisburg-Carlisle, Pa.; and Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, Ind.

Meanwhile, Kokomo, Ind., claimed the title of most affordable small housing market in the second quarter of 2016. There, 98.2% of homes sold during the second quarter were affordable to families earning the median income of $60,900.

Smaller markets joining Kokomo at the top of the list included Cumberland, Md.-W.Va.; Fairbanks, Alaska; Davenport-Moline-Rock Island, Iowa-Ill; and Monroe, Mich.

For the 15th quarter in a row, San Francisco-Redwood City-South San Francisco, Calif., was the nation’s least affordable major housing market. Just 8.5% of homes sold there were affordable to families earning the area’s median income of $104,700.

Other major metros at the bottom of the affordability chart were located in California. In descending order, they included Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale; Anaheim-Santa Ana-Irvine; San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara; and San Rafael.

California also claimed the five least affordable small housing markets. At the very bottom of the affordability chart was Santa Cruz-Watsonville, where 14.7% of all new and existing homes sold were affordable to families earning the area’s median income of $85,100.

Other small markets at the lowest end of the affordability scale included Salinas; Napa; San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande; and Santa Maria-Santa Barbara.

“Firm job growth, historically low interest rates and healthy price appreciation in many markets are all positive signs that the housing recovery continues to move forward,” said NAHB Chairman Ed Brady. “At the same time, regulatory hurdles and rising costs for buildable lots and skilled labor continue to put upward pressure on the cost of building a home.”

Rising home prices outweighed falling mortgage rates when it came to housing affordability in the second quarter of the year.The National Association o...
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'Just below' pricing effective at snagging consumers

Consumers need to be aware they are being manipulated

Whether it's a house listed at $299,999 or a product sold on TV for “three easy payments of $19.95,” marketers have long resorted to “just below” pricing – setting the price just below a round number.

They've done it because they think it's effective. Just ask yourself how many times you bragged to a friend that you filled your gas tank for $1.99 a gallon, when in fact it was $1.99.9 a gallon – $2, for all practical purposes.

Turns out there is research to show this “just below” pricing actually works pretty well. Eli Beracha of Florida International University, who conducted the study with Michael J. Seiler, of The College of William & Mary, said that using this method means sellers can ask more for something without driving away buyers.

Their study looked at 1,000 buyers in Virginia who were considering 370,000 listings. The research team focused on the impact of pricing homes in round numbers as opposed to a price that was just below that number.

“On average, buyers are more attracted to a house priced at $199,000 than to a house priced at $200,000 and it appears that ‘just below’ pricing works out favorably for sellers in terms of their bottom line,” Beracha said.

Buyers end up paying more

In fact, the researchers maintain that dropping the price as little as $1 consistently yields a higher selling price. They say it can result in a buyer paying as much as $6,000 more on a $200,000 property.

“We tested the age-old debate concerning the best technique to price a home when listing it for sale,” Seiler said. “We find that using a price just below a round number works best, particularly in connection to the left-most digit in the price. So, $199,999 works better than $200,000.”

There is still some debate in the real estate industry about the effectiveness of this pricing, but sellers might want to take the research into consideration when putting their homes on the market.

Of course, buyers – not just of homes but of all products – should probably keep it in mind as well. When something is priced at $49.99, it's really $50. A home priced at $199,000 is really $200,000.

And any sale at a “just under” price will always be “just over” after you pay sales taxes, shipping, and other assorted fees that are always associated with any sale these days.

Whether it's a house listed at $299,999 or a product sold on TV for “three easy payments of $19.95,” marketers have long resorted to “just below” pricing –...
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Home prices post solid gains in June

The same month saw rises in both personal income and spending

Home prices moved higher in June on both an annual and a month-over-month basis.

The CoreLogic Home Price Index (HPI) shows prices nationwide -- including distressed sales -- rose 5.7% year-over-year and 1.1% compared with May 2016.

“Mortgage rates dipped in June to their lowest level in more than three years, supporting home purchases,” said CoreLogic Chief Economist Dr. Frank Nothaft. “Local markets with strong economic growth have generally had stronger home-price growth. Among large metropolitan areas, Denver had the lowest unemployment rate and the strongest home-price appreciation.”

The CoreLogic HPI Forecast projects home prices will increase by 5.3% on a year-over-year basis from June 2016 to June 2017, and on a month-over-month basis by 0.6% from June 2016 to July 2016.

"Home prices continue to increase across the country, especially in the lower price ranges and in a number of metro areas," said Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic. "We see prices continuing to increase at a healthy rate over the next year.”

Personal income and spending

From the government, word that consumers were earning more and spending it in June.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) reports personal income inched ahead 0.2% or $29.3 billion, with disposable personal income (DPI) -- what you have left after taxes -- up $24.6 billion or 0.2%.

Personal consumption expenditures (PCE) rose $53.0 billion (0.4%).

Earning, spending and saving

June's increase in personal income came mainly from increases in private wages, salaries, and nonfarm proprietors’ income. These were partly offset by declines in personal dividend income and personal interest income.

The increase in spending primarily reflected increases in outlays for electricity and gas, healthcare services, and other nondurable goods that were partly offset by a drop in spending for new motor vehicles.

Personal saving was $732.0 billion in June, putting the personal saving rate -- personal saving as a percentage of disposable personal income -- at 5.3%, the same as May.

The complete report is available on the BEA website.

Home prices moved higher in June on both an annual and a month-over-month basis.The CoreLogic Home Price Index (HPI...
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The pace of home price increases slows in May

Portland, Seattle and Denver led the way

Home prices rose in May, but not at the clip we saw the month before.

The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price NSA Index, which covers all nine U.S. census divisions, was up 5.0% in May from the same month a year earlier. Within that measure, the 10-City Composite rose 4.4%% increase, down 0.3% from the gain posted the previous month, and the 20-City Composite reported a year-over-year gain of 5.2%, down from 5.4% in April.

The highest year-over-year gains among the 20 cities over each of the last four months were recorded in Portland, Seattle and Denver. In May, Portland led the way with a 12.5% year-over-year price increase, followed by Seattle at 10.7%, and Denver with a 9.5% increase. Eight cities reported greater price increases in the year ending May 2016 versus the year ending April 2016.

“Home prices continue to appreciate across the country,” said David M. Blitzer, managing director and chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “Overall, housing is doing quite well. In addition to strong prices, sales of existing homes reached the highest monthly level since

2007 as construction of new homes showed continuing gains.

Month-over-month

The National Index posted a month-over-month gain of 0.2% in May, with the 10-City Composite down 0.8%, and the 20-City Composite posting a 0.1% decline in May. Twelve cities saw prices rise, two cities were unchanged, and six cities saw prices fall.

Regional patterns seen in home prices are shifting. Blitzer notes that over the last year, the Pacific Northwest has been quite strong while prices in the previously strong spots of San Diego, San Francisco and Los Angeles saw more modest increases.

“The two hottest areas during the housing boom were Florida and the Southwest,” he said, adding that Miami and Tampa have recovered in the last few months while Las Vegas and Phoenix remain weak. “When home prices began to recover,” Blitzer added, “New York and Washington saw steady price growth; now both are among the weakest areas in the country.”

Home prices rose in May, but not at the clip we saw the month before. The S&P; CoreLogic Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price NSA Index, which cov...
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Three straight gains for the government's house price tracker

Jobless claims edge lower in mid-July

Another rise, albeit a small one, for the price of housing in May.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) reports its House Price Index (HPI) rose 0.2%, marking the third consecutive monthly advance. At the same time, the April increase was revised higher -- from 0.2% to 0.3%.

On a year-over-year basis, prices were up 5.6% from May 2015.

For the nine census divisions, seasonally adjusted monthly price changes from April to May ranged from -1.3% in the New England division to +1.2% in the Mountain division. The 12-month changes were all positive -- ranging from +3.4% in the Middle Atlantic division to +8.5% in the Mountain division.

The monthly HPI is calculated using home sales price information from mortgages sold to, or guaranteed by, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

The complete report is available on the FHFA website.

Jobless claims

Also from the government, word that first-time applications for state unemployment benefits remained below 300,000 for a 72nd consecutive week, the longest streak since 1973.

The Department of Labor (DOL) reports initial jobless claims were down by 1,000 in the week ending July 16, to a seasonally-adjusted 253,000 -- down from the previous week's unrevised level.

The four-week moving average, considered by many economists to be a more accurate gauge of the labor market, fell by 1,250 from the previous week's unrevised figure to 257,750.

The full report may be found on the DOL website.

Photo (c) fiore26 - FotoliaAnother rise, albeit a small one, for the price of housing in May.The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) reports it...
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May was a good month for home price appreciation

Housing is seen as an 'oasis of stability'

If you own a home, chances are good that you saw it rise in value -- again.

Property information provider CoreLogic reports housing prices were up in May both year-over-year and month-over-month.

The CoreLogic Home Price Index (HPI) jumped by 5.9% from the same month a year ago, and was up 1.3% from April.

“Housing remained an oasis of stability in May with home prices rising year over year between 5% and 6% for 22 consecutive months,” said CoreLogic Chief Economist Dr. Frank Nothaft. “The consistently solid growth in home prices has been driven by the highest resale activity in nine years and a still-tight housing inventory.”

Looking ahead

The CoreLogic HPI Forecast projects a year-over-year rise of 5.3% for May 2017, and a 0.8% increase from May 2016 to June 2016.

The forecast is a projection of home prices using the CoreLogic HPI and other economic variables. Values are derived from state-level forecasts by weighting indices according to the number of owner-occupied households for each state.

“Housing remained an oasis of stability in May with home prices rising year over year between 5% and 6% for 22 consecutive months,” said CoreLogic Chief Economist Dr. Frank Nothaft. “The consistently solid growth in home prices has been driven by the highest resale activity in nine years and a still-tight housing inventory.”

“Price appreciation continues to be fairly broad-based across the U.S.,” said Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic. “From a regional perspective, the Pacific Northwest continues to be the hottest area for home-price growth, with Oregon and Washington leading the way. The recent turbulence in financial markets should lead to modestly lower mortgage rates, which will provide even more support to the steadily improving real estate recovery.”

If you own a home, chances are good that you saw it rise in value -- again.Property information provider CoreLogic reports housing prices were up in Ma...
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Home prices up in April -- but at a slower pace

That marks six straight monthly increases

House prices rose in value across the U.S. in April, but at a slower pace on both a year-over-year and month-over-month basis.

According to the S&P/Case-Shiller National Home Price Index (HPI), which covers all nine U.S. census divisions, prices posted a 5.0% annual gain, compared with an advance of 5.1% the previous month. The 10-City Composite was up 4.7%, versus 4.8% in March, and the 20-City Composite reported a year-over-year gain of 5.4% -- from 5.5% from the prior month.

Portland led the way with a year-over-year price increase of 12.3%, followed by Seattle at 10.7% and Denver with a 9.5% gain. Nine cities reported greater price increases in the year ending April 2016 versus the year ending March 2016.

The HPI recorded a month-over-month gain of 1.0% in April, with the10-City Composite up 1.0% and the 20-City Composite rising 1.1%.

Uncertainty ahead

”The housing sector continues to turn in a strong price performance with the S&P/Case-Shiller National Index rising at a 5% or greater annual rate for six consecutive months,” said David M. Blitzer, Managing Director and Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “The home price increases reflect the low unemployment rate, low mortgage interest rates, and consumers’ generally positive outlook.”

Blitzer notes, however, that the outlook is not without a lot of uncertainty and some risk. “Last week’s vote by Great Britain to leave the European Union is the most recent political concern while the U.S. elections in the fall raise uncertainty and will distract home buyers and investors in the coming months,” he said.

In addition, a closer look at home price data also hints at possible softness. According to Blitzer, “Seasonally adjusted figures in the report show that three cities saw lower prices in April compared to only one city in March. Among the 20 cities, 16 saw either declines or smaller increases in monthly prices in the seasonally adjusted numbers.”

House prices rose in value across the U.S. in April, but at a slower pace on both a year-over-year and month-over-month basis.According to the S&P;/Cas...
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Steady gains continue for home prices

Values were up in March on both an annual and monthly basis

A leading measure of U.S. home prices shows increases in value continued during March.

On a year-over-year basis, the S&P/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index, which covers all nine U.S. census divisions, posted a 5.2% gain with the 10-City Composite and the 20-City Composites’ year-over-year gains unchanged at 4.7% and 5.4%, respectively, from the previous month.

The highest gains among the 20 cities with another month of annual price increases came in Portland, Seattle, and Denver. Portland led the way with a 12.3% surge, followed by Seattle at 10.8%, and Denver with an increase of 10.0%. Ten cities reported greater price increases in the year ending March 2016 versus the year ending February 2016.

“The economy is supporting the price increases with improving labor markets, falling unemployment rates and extremely low mortgage rates,” said David M. Blitzer, managing director & chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices.

“Another factor behind rising home prices is the limited supply of homes on the market. The number of homes currently on the market is less than 2% of the number of households in the U.S. -- the lowest percentage seen since the mid-1980s.”

Month-over-month

The National Index was up 0.7% in March, with the 10-City Composite recording a 0.8% month-over-month increase while the 20-City Composite rose 0.9%. Six cities saw prices rise, one city was unchanged, and prices dropped in 13 cities.

A leading measure of U.S. home prices shows increases in value continued during March.On a year-over-year basis, the S&P;/Case-Shiller U.S. National Ho...
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Is a new housing bubble forming?

Median home prices are well beyond pre-housing crash levels in many markets

The year-long housing market narrative has been one of rising prices, which has been cheered as a good economic sign.

After all, the housing crash of 2008-09 left millions of homeowners underwater and led to widespread foreclosures.

But real estate marketplace Zillow reports home prices are now rising faster than anyone expected. And it isn't due to a robust economy – it's because the supply of homes for sale has shrunk, making the homes that are on the market worth more.

In its existing home sales report for April, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) said the median price for all types of homes was $232,500 – a gain of 6.3% year-over-year.

Zillow uses a different metric to measure home prices, and it places the median home price in the U.S. significantly less, at $187,000. Still, that's a 5% increase over the last 12 months and may be a cause for concern.

Worries

"The temporary relief from mortgage rates currently near three-year lows has helped preserve housing affordability this spring, but there's growing concern a number of buyers will be unable to find homes at affordable prices if wages don't rise and price growth doesn't slow," said Lawrence Yun, NAR's chief economist.

The Zillow report shows a wide gap in home prices, depending on the market. While prices seem to be rising in most markets, the median price appears to be reaching bubble proportions in some markets faster than others.

For example, in Dallas-Fort Worth, the median home price gained 12.6% in the last 12 months, but is only $183,000. San Francisco, meanwhile, saw a 10% appreciation in the median home price, which is now $806,800.

Wide price variations

Using Zillow's national median home value of $187,000 as a baseline, the median home in Dallas is 2% below the national average. However, the median home in San Francisco is more than four times the national average.

Denver, the nation's hottest housing market, saw the median home value rise 15.2% in the last year to $336,600 – nearly twice the national average. The median home price in Los Angeles is $567,700, more than three times the national average.

But the median home prices in Houston, Detroit, and Atlanta remain well below Zillow's national average, yet values grew in all three metros last year by at least 6%.

If a housing bubble is forming, it isn't universally recognized. People in Atlanta aren't seeing it. But home buyers in markets where inventory is low and high-income jobs are plentiful certainly are.

The year-long housing market narrative has been one of rising prices, which has been cheered as a good economic sign.After all, the housing crash of 20...
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House prices up for 19th consecutive quarter

The year-over-year gain was more than 5%

Prices for houses across the U.S. were up during the first three months of the year, marking the 19th consecutive quarterly increase.

According to the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) House Price Index (HPI), prices rose 1.3% in the first quarter of 2016 and were up 5.7% from the period a year earlier.

The HPI is calculated using home sales price information from mortgages sold to, or guaranteed by, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

"While the overall appreciation rate was robust in the first quarter, home price appreciation was somewhat less widespread than in recent quarters," said FHFA Supervisory Economist Andrew Leventis. "Twelve states and the District of Columbia saw price declines in the quarter -- the most areas to see price depreciation since the fourth quarter of 2013. Although most declines were modest, such declines are notable given the pervasive and extraordinary appreciation we have been observing for many years."

Report highlights

  • Home prices rose in every state between the first quarter of 2015 and the first quarter of 2016. The top five states in annual appreciation were Oregon (11.8%), Florida (11.2%), Washington (10.9%), Nevada (9.4%), and Colorado (9.0%).
  • Among the 100 most populated metropolitan areas in the U.S., annual price increases were greatest in the West Palm Beach-Boca Raton-Delray Beach, Fla., where prices increased by 16.7%. Prices were weakest in El Paso, Texas, where they fell 2.8%.
  • Of the nine census divisions, the Pacific division experienced the strongest increase in the first quarter, posting a 1.9% quarterly increase and an 8.1% increase since the first quarter of last year. House price appreciation was weakest in the Middle Atlantic division, where prices rose 0.6% from the last quarter.

The complete report is available on the FHFA website.

Prices for houses across the U.S. were up during the first three months of the year, marking the 19th consecutive quarterly increase.According to the F...
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Another increase for U.S. home prices

Prices are up nearly 40% from their 2011 low point

Home prices were on the rise again in March according to CoreLogic.

The provider of property information, analytics and data-enabled services says its Home Price Index (HPI) shows home prices nationwide -- including distressed sales -- posted a year-over-year gain of 6.7% and were up 2.1% from February.

“Home prices reached the bottom five years ago, and since then have appreciated almost 40%,” said Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic. “The highest appreciation was in the West, where prices continue to increase at double-digit rates.”

Looking ahead

The CoreLogic HPI Forecast indicates home prices will rise 5.3% on a year-over-year basis from March 2016 to March 2017, and 0.7% from March 2016 to April 2016.

The forecast is a projection of home prices using the CoreLogic HPI and other economic variables.

“Housing helped keep U.S. economic growth afloat in the first quarter of 2016 as residential investment recorded its strongest gain since the end of 2012,” said Dr. Frank Nothaft, chief economist for CoreLogic. “Low interest rates and increased home building suggest that housing will continue to be a growth driver.”

The 55+ housing market

In other housing news, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) says builder confidence in the single-family 55+ housing market remained in positive territory for the first quarter of 2016

Despite a six-point dip -- from 61 to 55 -- in the NAHB 55+ Housing Market Index from the previous quarter, this is the eighth consecutive quarter with a reading above 50. An index number above 50 indicates that more builders view conditions as good than poor.

"Although builder sentiment in the 55+ housing sector is down slightly from its peak, overall confidence is still in positive territory," said Jim Chapman, chairman of NAHB's 55+ Housing Industry Council. "Builders for the 55+ market are doing quite well in some areas across the country, while others are experiencing challenges that are hindering production."

Home prices were on the rise again in March according to CoreLogic.The provider of property information, analytics and data-e...
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Why San Francisco real estate is so expensive

Sky high prices have displaced even fairly high income residents

San Francisco has always been an expensive real estate market. Lots of people want to live there.

But in the last five years, San Francisco has gotten to be unaffordable for most people. The Home Value Forecast, produced by Pro Teck Valuation Services, explored some of the reasons.

It found that, as the economy recovered from the Great Recession, San Francisco created 500,000 new jobs. These were the kinds of jobs politicians like to call “good jobs.” Mostly involving technology, they command big salaries.

At the same time, the Great Recession and resulting housing crash resulted in a plunge in home building activity in the region, where land is at a premium. So a half-million new jobs and almost no expansion in housing inventory when supply and demand is way out of balance.

That's resulted in a housing market where the average home lists for $1.2 million, and there is no shortage of buyers.

Long commute

The Forecast recounts the tale of one San Francisco worker who could barely afford a one-bedroom apartment in the metro area. Instead, he rented a two-bedroom apartment in Las Vegas, Nev., commuting to San Francisco four days a week. He estimates his savings at $1,124 per month.

Urban planners are concerned about what this is doing to the character of the city, not to mention the practical question of where the city's vital workers, who don't command high six-figure salaries, are going to live.

“Gentrification, or the influx of capital and higher-income, higher-educated residents into working-class neighborhoods, has already transformed about 10% of Bay Area neighborhoods,” writes the Urban Displacement Project, at the University of California Berkley.

Widespread displacement

Its authors found displacement was forcing residents to move out of 48% of Bay Area neighborhoods because prices had gotten too high. It said these neighborhoods were about evenly divided between low income enclaves and those populated by moderate to high-income residents.

The Home Value Forecast reports many of these displaced residents, who work in San Francisco, are moving to Antioch, Calif. For most, it means a daily one-way commute of more than one hour, landing it on the list of the 50 worst commutes in America.

Real estate marketplace Zillow recently reported that housing markets that provide the best opportunities for advancement – places like San Francisco and Seattle – are now unaffordable for low income consumers who could benefit most.

In two thirds of the metros that Zillow measured, renters had to spend more of their income on rent than the historical average. In major job markets like the Bay Area, New York, and Los Angeles, it takes 40% of the median income to pay the median rent.

It's worse in Los Angeles, where he median worker has to spend nearly half of their income on rent.

San Francisco has always been an expensive real estate market. Lots of people want to live there.But in the last five years, San Francisco has gotten t...
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Home prices rise in February -- but at a slower rate

Thirteen of 20 cities saw a slower pace of appreciation

Home values across the U.S. posted year-over-year and month-over-month gains in February.

However, the S&P/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index (HPI) shows the rate of increase was slowing.

Year-over-Year

The National HPI, covering all nine U.S. census divisions, recorded a 5.3% annual gain in February, the same as in January. The slowdowns came in the 10-City Composite, which was up 4.6%, compared with January's advance of 5.0% from the same month in 2015.

Additionally, the 20-City Composite’s year-over-year gain was 5.4%, versus 5.7% the month before. Among those 20 cities, Portland (+11.9%), Seattle (+11.0%), and Denver (+9.7%) posted the biggest year-over-year gains. Seven cities reported greater price increases in the year ending February 2016 than in the year ending January 2016.

”Home prices continue to rise twice as fast as inflation, but the pace is easing off in the most recent numbers,” said David M. Blitzer, managing director and chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices.

“The year-over-year figures for the 10-City and 20-City Composites both slowed and 13 of the 20 cities saw slower year-over-year numbers compared to last month.”

Month-over-month

Before seasonal adjustment, the National HPI posted a gain of 0.2% month-over-month in February, with the 10-City up just 0.1% and the 20-City Composite posting a 0.2% increase. After seasonal adjustment, the National HPI recorded a 0.4% month-over-month increase.

The 10-City Composite was up 0.6% and the 20-City Composite reported a 0.7% month-over-month increase. Fourteen of 20 cities reported increases in February before seasonal adjustment; after seasonal adjustment, only 10 cities increased for the month.

“The slower growth rate is evident in the monthly seasonally adjusted numbers,” Blitzer noted, pointing out that six cities, "experienced smaller monthly gains in February compared to January, when no city saw growth." Among the six were Seattle, Portland OR, and San Diego, all of which were very strong last time.

Home values across the U.S. posted year-over-year and month-over-month gains in February. However, the S&P/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index (...
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Home prices continued their rise in February

Increases are expected to continue -- but at a slower pace

Another rise for home prices in February on both a year-over-year and month-over-month basis

Property information provider CoreLogic reports that home prices nationwide -- including distressed sales -- increased 6.8% in February and were up 1.1% from January.

“Home prices continue to rise across the U.S. with every state posting year-over-year gains during the last 12 months,” said Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic. “Improved economic conditions and tight inventories continue to drive exceptionally strong gains in many markets, especially for homes priced below $500,000.”

Looking ahead

The CoreLogic Home Price Index Forecast projects an increase of 5.2% on a year-over-year basis from February 2016 to February 2017, and on a month-over-month basis a more modest 0.6% from February to March.

“Fixed-rate mortgage rates dropped more than one-quarter of a percentage point in the first three months of 2016, and job creation averaged 209,000 over the same period,” said CoreLogic Chief Economist Dr. Frank Nothaft. “These economic forces will sustain home purchases during the spring and support the 5.2% home price appreciation CoreLogic has projected for the next year.”

Another rise for home prices in February on both a year-over-year and month-over-month basisProperty information provider CoreLogic reports that home p...
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Home prices continue their rise in January

Low inventories could slow things down

Home prices across the country rose over the last 12 months.

On a year-over-year basis, the S&P/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index (HPI), covering all nine U.S. census divisions, was up 5.4% in January.

The 10-City Composite rose 5.1% for the year., while the 20-City Composite’s year-over-year gain was 5.7%. After seasonal adjustment, the National, 10-City Composite, and 20-City Composite rose 0.5%, 0.8%, and 0.7%, respectively, from the prior month.

West leads the year-over-year advance

Portland, Seattle, and San Francisco reported the highest year-over-year gains among the 20 cities, with another month of double digit annual price increases. Portland was on top with an 11.8% year-over-year price increase, followed by Seattle with 10.7%, and San Francisco with a 10.5% increase.

Eleven cities enjoyed greater price increases in the year ending January 2016 versus the year ending December 2015. Phoenix posted an annual gain of 6.1% in January 2016 versus 6.3% in December 2015, ending its streak of 12 consecutive months of increasing annual gains. The western part of the country saw the largest price gains in the past year; the northeast is the weakest region.

Month-over-month

Before seasonal adjustment, the National Index, the 10-City Composite, and the 20-City Composite all were unchanged in January. After seasonal adjustment, all three composites reported strong advances.

Eleven of 20 cities reported increases in January before seasonal adjustment; after seasonal adjustment, all 20 cities increased for the month.

Inventory worries

“Home prices continue to climb at more than twice the rate of inflation,” said David M. Blitzer, managing director and chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “The low inventory of homes for sale -- currently about a five month supply -- means that would-be sellers seeking to trade-up are having a hard time finding a new, larger home.

The recovery of the sale and construction of new homes has lagged the gains seen in existing home sales, but this may be starting to change. Starts of single family homes in February were the highest since November 2007, and the single-family-home share of total housing starts was 70% in February, up from a low of 57% in June 2015.

“While low inventories and short supply are boosting prices,” Blitzer said, “financing continues to be a concern for some potential purchasers, particularly young adults and first time home buyers. The issue is availability of credit for people with substantial student or credit card debt.”

Blitzer said one hopeful sign is that the home ownership rate -- at 63.7% in the 2015 fourth quarter -- may be turning around. It is up slightly from 63.5% in the 2015 second quarter but far below the 2004 high of 69.1%.”

Home prices across the country rose over the last 12 months.On a year-over-year basis, the S&P/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index (HPI), cover...
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House prices inch higher in January

The gains were scattered across the country

Prices for homes were on the rise again in January.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) reports its monthly House Price Index (HPI) was up a seasonally adjusted 0.5% from the month before.

At the same time, the FHFA revised its December figures to show a gain of 0.5% instead of the 0.4% advance it reported initially.

Earlier this month, CoreLogic reported a month-over-month price gain of 1.3%

Regional breakdown

For the nine census divisions, seasonally adjusted monthly price changes from December 2015 to January 2016 ranged from -1.0% in the Middle Atlantic division to +1.7% in the South Atlantic division.

The 12-month changes were all positive, ranging from +1.7% in the Middle Atlantic division to +8.9% in the South Atlantic division.

The FHFA monthly HPI is calculated using home sales price information from mortgages sold to, or guaranteed by, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

The year over year increase in January was 6.0%.

The full report may be found on the FHFA website.

Prices for homes were on the rise again in January.The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) reports its monthly House Price Index (HPI) was up a seaso...
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A year-over-year surge in home prices in January

The northwest and Rocky Mountain states led the way

January was a good month for homeowners as prices rose on both a year-over-year and month-over-month basis.

Property information, analytics and data-enabled services provider CoreLogic reports its Home Price Index (HPI) shows home prices nationwide -- including distressed sales -- increased year over year by 6.9% and was up 1.3% from December.

“While the national market continues to steadily improve, the contours of the home price recovery are shifting,” said Dr. Frank Nothaft, chief economist for CoreLogic. “The northwest and Rocky Mountain states have experienced greater appreciation and account for four of the top five states for home price growth.”

Looking ahead

The CoreLogic HPI Forecast indicates home prices will jump 5.5% from January 2016 to January 2017, and 0.5% from January to February.

“Heading into the spring buying season, home prices continue to rise across much of the country,” said Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic. “With rates staying low for now and continued solid job and income growth, the spring buying season is shaping up to be a good one.”

The CoreLogic HPI Forecast is a projection of home prices using the CoreLogic HPI and other economic variables. Values are derived from state-level forecasts by weighting indices according to the number of owner-occupied households for each state.

January was a good month for homeowners as prices rose on both a year-over-year and month-over-month basis.Property information, analytics and data-ena...
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Housing prices rise for an 18th consecutive quarter

Prices were up in all 50 states and DC

The prices of houses in the U.S were up in the final three months of last year for the 18th quarter in a row.

According to the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) House Price Index (HPI), prices were up 1.4% from the third quarter of last year and 5.8% from the fourth quarter of 2014.

"Instability in financial markets did not seem to put much of a drag on home prices in the fourth quarter," said FHFA Supervisory Economist Andrew Leventis. "The fourth quarter 1.4% increase for the U.S. was in line with the extremely steady -- but historically elevated -- appreciation rates we have been observing for several years now."

The HPI is calculated using home sales price information from mortgages sold to, or guaranteed by, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

While the purchase-only HPI posted a year-over-year gain of 5.8%, prices of other goods and services fell 0.8%. The inflation-adjusted price of homes rose approximately 6.7% over the latest year.

Report highlights

  • Home prices rose in every state and in the District of Columbia between the fourth quarter of 2014 and the fourth quarter of 2015. The top five states in annual appreciation were: 1) Nevada 12.7%; 2) Colorado 10.9%; 3) Idaho 10.7%; 4) Washington 10.7%; and 5) Oregon 10.6%.
  • Among the 100 most populated metropolitan areas in the U.S., fourth-quarter price increases were greatest in the San Francisco-Redwood City-South San Francisco, Calif., metropolitan statistical areas district, where prices increased by 20.7%. Prices were weakest in New Haven-Milford, Connecticut, where they fell 1.5%.
  • Of the nine census divisions, the Pacific division experienced the strongest increase in the fourth quarter, posting a 2.1% quarterly increase and an 8.0% advance since the fourth quarter of 2014. House price appreciation was weakest in the Middle Atlantic division, where prices rose just 0.6% from the previous quarter.

The full report may be found on the FHFA website.

Jobless claims

In other economic news, first-time applications for state unemployment benefits moved sharply higher last week.

The Department of Labor (DOL) reports seasonally adjusted initial claims totaled 272,000 in the week ending February 20, -- up 10,000 from the previous week.

Even with that increase, which was not affected by any special factors, the number of claims remains at the lower end of the 250,000-300,000 range that has prevailed since July 2014.

The four-week moving average, which lacks the weekly tally's volatility and is seen by economists as a more accurate gauge of the labor market, was 272,000, down 1,250 from the previous week.

The complete report is available on the DOL website.

© jpldesigns - FotoliaThe prices of houses in the U.S were up in the final three months of last year for the 18th quarter in a row.According to t...
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Home sales down but prices up in fourth quarter of 2015

Realtors see lack of homes for sale driving up prices

The U.S. housing market appeared to cool off during the last three months of 2015, but that didn't stop home prices from going up. However, the report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) suggests homes in metropolitan areas, rather than rural America, saw the most gains.

The report shows that the median existing single-family home price increased in 81% of NAR's measured markets, down from 87% in the third quarter. Still, that might not be bad considering sales of existing homes fell 5.4% during the period.

The disparity might be explained by a continued decline in the number of homes on the market.

Unshakeable trend

"Even with slightly cooling demand, the unshakeable trend of inadequate supply in relation to the overall pool of prospective buyers inflicted upward pressure on home prices in several metro areas," NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun said in a release.

The result, says Yun, is that a number of qualified buyers are being shut out of the housing market if they happen to live in the top job producing, but increasingly expensive, parts of the country – especially on the West Coast and parts of the South.

"Without a significant ramp-up in new home construction and more homeowners listing their homes for sale, buyers are likely to see little relief in the form of slowing price growth in the months ahead," Yun said.

A consumer who wanted to buy a single-family home at the national median price, putting 5% down, would need an income of $49,535. But first he or she would need to find a desirable home for sale. Increasingly, that's getting harder to do.

Decline in number of for sale signs

At the end of the fourth quarter, there were 1.79 million existing homes available for sale, down from 1.86 million homes for sale at the end of the fourth quarter in 2014. The average supply during the fourth quarter was 4.6 months – down from 4.9 months a year ago.

This is creating a strong seller's market, especially in hot metro areas. Great if you're trying to sell your home – not so great if you want to buy.

Nashville, Tennessee is one of the hot housing markets where affordability is slipping away. Christie Wilson, CEO of The Wilson Group Real Estate Services, says parts of the Nashville area have become “micro-markets” and are experiencing what she calls a mini-bubble.

"The lack of inventory continues to drive prices up in certain price ranges and certain neighborhoods that have those price points, such as anything under $350,000," she said in an interview with the Nashville Tennessean. "But there is a lot of inventory in higher price points, and so there very well could be a pricing correction in the future."

Real estate marketplace Zillow recently reported that urban home values have been rising faster than those in suburban areas. It says the shift reflects demographic trends of Millennials delaying family life and choosing condos, and shifting preferences, as people seek walkable neighborhoods with urban amenities.  

The U.S. housing market appeared to cool off during the last three months of 2015, but that didn't stop home prices from going up. However, the report from...
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Home prices post another year-over-year gain in December

Prices also rose on a month-over-month basis

Housing prices continue their rise with no end in sight for the foreseeable future.

The CoreLogic Home Price Index (HPI) shows house prices nationwide -- including distressed sales – rose 6.3% in December from the same time a year earlier. In addition, prices were up 0.8% from November.

Distressed sales include short sales and real estate-owned transactions.

“Nationally, home prices have been rising at a 5 to 6% annual rate for more than a year,” said Dr. Frank Nothaft, chief economist for CoreLogic. “However, local-market growth can vary substantially from that. Some metropolitan areas have had double-digit appreciation, such as Denver, Colorado and Naples, Florida, while others have had price declines, like New Orleans, Louisiana and Rochester, New York.”

Looking ahead

The CoreLogic HPI Forecast indicates home prices will increase by 5.4% on a year-over-year basis from December 2015 to December 2016, and on a month-over-month basis home prices are expected to increase 0.2% from December 2015 to January 2016.

“Higher property valuations appear to be driving up single-family construction as we head into the spring. Additional housing stock, especially in urban centers on the coasts such as San Francisco, could help to temper home price growth in the longer term,” said Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic. “In the short and medium term, local markets with strong employment growth are likely to experience a continued rise in home sales and price growth well above the U.S. average.”

Housing prices continue their rise with no end in sight for the foreseeable future.The CoreLogic Home Price Index (HPI) shows house prices nationwide -...
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Urban areas see home values rise as a result of consumers' shifting preferences

New data suggests suburban living is becoming much less coveted

Suburban living used to come with a higher price tag than city living. The split-level home with a porch and a big backyard may as well have been the spokesperson for the American dream.

But it seems more home buyers are coveting city life these days, favoring condos in walkable, amenity-rich neighborhoods over the quiet life in suburbia. This shift in preferences has led to a two percent increase in the value of urban homes, according to Zillow.

As homes in urban areas become increasingly more desirable, experts believe we may soon see the very nature of the suburbs changing.

Reflects shifting desires

Particularly in top-tier cities with young populations -- such as Boston, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. -- home buyers are looking to be part of a dense, walkable neighborhood close to their workplace.

Experts say this trend may lead to the urbanization of suburbia.

“In the future, this lifestyle trend will change some suburbs as we know them,” said Zillow Chief Economist Dr. Svenja Gudell. “They'll start to feel more urban as buyers move further from city centers in search of affordable housing in communities that still feel urban."

Recent phenomenon

Since 2000, home prices in urban centers have grown 50% faster than in their surrounding metro area, notes City Observatory.

In 2013, the average urban home was worth 1.2 percent less than the average home in the suburbs, according to Zillow data. The recent shift, analysts note, may have something to do with the aging population. 

Older people are far less likely to live in urban neighborhoods (just 17% of the largest segment of Boomers do, according to Trulia). And millennials, who are entering peak age for urban living while also delaying starting families, have also contributed to the rise in urban home prices. 

With city homes becoming more sought after, new data indicates that people are willing to pay much more for much less if it's where they want to live.

On a per-square-foot basis, home values in urban areas are way up, according to new data. In Washington, D.C., for example, urban homes in 1996 cost 6% more per square foot than suburban homes. Today, they cost 41% more per square foot.

Suburban living used to come with a higher price tag than city living. The split-level home with a porch and a big backyard may as well have been the spoke...
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Another increase in home prices

The gains show further recovery from the housing meltdown

Home prices in the U.S. continued to rise in November, according to two widely watched measures of prices.

In the first, the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices (HPI) show that prices posted a year-over-year gain of 5.3% in November, following a 5.1% increase in October.

The 10-City Composite was up 5.3% , while the 20-City Composite’s year-over-year gain was 5.8%.

Portland, San Francisco, and Denver continue to report the highest year over year gains among the 20 cities with another month of double digit annual price increases. Portland led the way with an 11.1% year-over-year price increase, followed by San Francisco with 11.0% and Denver with a 10.9% increase.

Fourteen cities reported greater price increases in the year ending November 2015 versus the year ending October 2015. Phoenix had the longest streak of year-over-year increases, reporting a gain of 5.9% in November -- the twelfth consecutive increase in annual price gains. Detroit posted a 6.3% year-over-year price, the largest annual increase this month.

Month-over-month

Before seasonal adjustment, the HPI was up 0.1% month-over-month in November. The 10-City Composite was unchanged, while the 20-City Composite reported gains of 0.1% month-over-month. After seasonal adjustment, the HPI, along with the 10-City and 20-City Composites, all increased 0.9% month-over-month in November.

Fourteen of 20 cities reported gains in November before seasonal adjustment; after seasonal adjustment, all 20 cities increased for the month.

“Home prices extended their gains, supported by continued low mortgage rates, tight supplies and an improving labor market,” said David M. Blitzer, managing director and chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “Sales of existing homes were up 6.5% in 2015 vs. 2014, and the number of homes on the market averaged about a 4.8 months’ supply during the year; both numbers suggest a seller’s market.”

Home prices continue to recover from the collapse that began before the recession of 2007-2009 and continued until 2012. Three cities -- Dallas, Denver, and Portland, Ore., -- have reached new all-time highs; San Francisco is even with its earlier peak and Charlotte N.C., is less than 1% below its previous peak.

The S&P/Case-Shiller National HPI is about 4.8% below the peak it set in July 2006, and 29.2% above the bottom it touched in January 2012.

FHFA HPI

​Separately, the Federal Housing Finance Agency's (FHFA) monthly HPI was up 0.5% in November on a seasonally adjusted basis from the previous month. The previously reported 0.5% gain in October was unchanged.

For the nine census divisions, seasonally adjusted monthly price changes from October 2015 to November 2015 ranged from -0.4% in the West South Central division to +1.8% in the Mountain division.

The 12-month changes were all positive, ranging from +2.6% in the Middle Atlantic division to +10.0% in the Mountain division.

The FHFA monthly HPI is calculated using home sales price information from mortgages sold to, or guaranteed by, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. From November 2014 to November 2015, house prices were up 5.9%. The index levels for October and November 2015 exceeded the prior peak level from March 2007.

The complete report is available on the FHFA website.

Home prices in the U.S. continued to rise in November, according to two widely watched measures of prices.In the first, the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price...
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Proximity to Trader Joe's might make your home worth more

Zillow finds proximity to trendy grocery stores linked to rising home values

Looking for a home that will quickly appreciate in values? Yes, good schools are important, but grocery stores may be even more influential.

Real estate marketplace Zillow reports homes increase in value faster if they are close to a Trader Joe's or Whole Foods. These are stores favored by Millennials and higher-income consumers.

Zillow says it found that between 1997 and 2014, homes near the two grocery chains were consistently worth more than the median U.S. home. At the end of 2014, homes within a mile of either store were worth more than twice as much as the median home in the rest of the country.

"Like Starbucks, the stores have become an amenity in their own right – a signal to the home-buying public that the neighborhood they're located in is desirable, perhaps up-and-coming, and definitely improving," Zillow Group Chief Economist Stan Humphries said in a release.

Boosts lagging neighborhood

Zillow concludes that these two stores can actually drive home prices. All it takes is for one to open in a neighborhood that has lagged the rest of the community in value and, voila, the neighborhood starts to take off.

The observation is contained in a book by Humphries and Zillow Group CEO Spencer Rascoff. The contention draws on Zillow's 10-year history collecting and analyzing real estate data.

"The grocery store phenomenon is about more than groceries," said Rascoff. "It says something about the way people want to live – in the type of neighborhood favored by the generations buying homes now. Today's homebuyers seek things in neighborhoods that weren't even in real estate agents' vocabularies a generation ago: walkability, community, new urbanism – and maybe we should add words like sustainable seafood and organic pears."

It's not a fluke, the authors insist. Home values are definitely linked to proximity to the two popular grocery stores.

Here's what Zillow said it learned: the median home within a mile of a future Whole Foods store appreciates more slowly than other homes in the same city before the store opens.

But once it is announced that one of these stores is moving into a neighborhood, the trend flips. Homes near the future site begin to appreciate. After the store opens, the appreciation picks up momentum.

10% gain

Two years after a Trader Joe's opened, the median home within a mile of the store had gone up 10% more than homes in the city as a whole over the previous year.

The trend could mean a couple of things. First, it might mean the two companies are very good at picking real estate, choosing locations that are under-valued but about to pop.

It could also mean that the two companies themselves are responsible for driving real estate higher. Trendy consumers – and they are often the ones with the most money – want to live near trendy stores.

Whatever the reason, a savvy homebuyer might take the locations of these stores into account when choosing a place to live.

Looking for a home that will quickly appreciate in values? Yes, good schools are important, but grocery stores may be even more influential.Real estate...
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Home builders bullish on 2016

Economists cite solid job growth and rising consumer confidence

This looks to be a good year for the housing industry, according to economists speaking at the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) International Builders’ Show in Las Vegas.

“There are a number of positive indicators that provide solid evidence this will be a good year for housing and the economy,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. They include a firming economy, solid job growth, rising consumer confidence, higher household formations, and pent-up demand.

Private sector job growth has been averaging 240,000 per month over the past two years, Crowe noted, while GDP growth is expected to climb slightly above last year’s level. Consumer confidence is also nearly back to its pre-recession peak.

However, there may be some rough patches. Builders report their top concerns in the year ahead include the cost and availability of developed lots and labor, federal environmental regulations, policies which they say are making it more expensive and difficult to build homes, and building materials prices.

Single-family gains projected

The NAHB is forecasting 1.26 million total housing starts in 2016 -- up 13.4% from 2015.

Single-family production is expected to reach 840,000 units this year, an 18% increase from last year. The NAHB is using the 2000-2003 period, when single-family starts averaged 1.34 million units on an annual basis, as a healthy benchmark. The housing recovery will see single-family starts steadily climb from 55% of normal production at the end of the third quarter of 2015 all the way up to 87% of normal production by the end of 2017.

On the multifamily side, the NAHB is anticipating 417,000 starts in 2016, up 5% from last year.

Meanwhile, residential remodeling activity is expected to register a 1.1% advance over 2015.

A bright regional outlook – with one exception

Below the national numbers, Nationwide Insurance Chief Economist David Berson said most regional housing markets look healthy.

Labor market conditions, a key driver of housing demand, are strong in many metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) -- supporting faster household formations and boosting local housing activity through rising incomes. These factors indicate that most of the 400 local housing markets “should see sustained growth in the coming year,” Berson said.

With the unemployment rate declining in 90% of MSAs over the past year, Berson said housing fundamentals are the strongest in over a decade, a trend supported by the labor market, demographics, and consumer preference to own.

However, he noted that many MSAs with strong ties to energy exploration and production in states including Louisiana, Texas, Wyoming, and South Dakota are expected to see limited housing expansion in the near term, as low oil prices are reducing employment.

Mortgage rates: “cheap” to low

CoreLogic Chief Economist Frank Nothaft foresees solid fundamentals for housing in 2016.

He calls 30-year fixed-rate mortgages running at or below 4% during the past year “cheap,” but notes that rates are expected to gradually rise one-quarter to one-half a percentage point this year -- up to 4.5%, going from what he calls, “cheap to low.”

Nothaft added that overall home sales will rise 4-5% this year, led by a 13% gain for new home sales, with sales volume and growth strongest in the South and West. “There is stronger growth in households, population and demand for new housing” in these regions, he said.

He predicts prices will post a roughly 4-5% gain this year from the 2015 level and will reach the 2006 peak by mid-2017.

And, while tight mortgage credit for consumers is expected to ease slowly this year, it will remain relatively tight compared with 15-20 years ago.

This looks to be a good year for the housing industry, according to economists speaking at the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) International B...
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Home prices up again in November

High demand and low supply are factors

Once again, home prices rose on both a year-over-year and month-over-month basis during November.

CoreLogic reports its Home Price Index (HPI) shows prices nationwide -- including distressed sales -- jumped 6.3% in November 2015 from the same month a year earlier. There was also a month-over-month gain of 0.5% from October.

Distressed sales include real estate-owned (REO) and short sales.

“Many factors, including strong demand and tight supply in many markets, are contributing to the long-sustained boom in prices and home equity which is a very good thing for those owning homes,” said Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic. “On the flip side, prices have outstripped incomes for several years in a number of regions so, as we enter 2016, affordability is becoming more of a constraint on sales in some markets.”

Looking ahead

The CoreLogic HPI Forecast indicates home prices will increase by 5.4% from November 2015 to November 2016, and remain flat from November 2015 to December 2015.

The CoreLogic HPI Forecast is a projection of home prices using the CoreLogic HPI and other economic variables. Values are derived from state-level forecasts by weighting indices according to the number of owner-occupied households for each state.

“Heading into 2016, home price growth remains in its sweet spot as prices have increased between 5 and 6% on a year-over-year basis for 16 consecutive months,” said Dr. Frank Nothaft, chief economist for CoreLogic. “Regionally we are beginning to see fissures, with slowdowns in some Texas and California markets, but the northwest and southeast remain on solid footing.”

Once again, home prices rose on both a year-over-year and month-over-month basis during November.CoreLogic reports its Home Price Index (HPI) shows pri...
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Home prices on the rise in October

The Federal Reserve interest rate increase raises questions about the future

The price of homes posted a slightly stronger year-over-rear increase in October than we saw during the previous month. Prices also rose on a month-over-month basis.

Year-over-year

The S&P/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index (NHPI), covering all nine U.S. census divisions, was up 5.2% from October 2014. The annual increase for September over September was 4.9%.

The 10-City Composite increased 5.1% in the year to October versus 4.9% previously, while the 20-City Composite’s year-over-year gain was 5.5% compared with 5.4% in September.

San Francisco, Denver, and Portland continue to report the highest year-over-year gains among the 20 cities with another month of double-digit price increases of 10.9% for all three. Twelve cities reported greater price increases in the year ending October 2015 versus the year ending September 2015.

Phoenix had the longest streak of year-over-year increases, reporting a gain of 5.7% in October 2015 -- the eleventh consecutive increase in annual price gains.

“Generally good economic conditions continue to support gains in home prices,” said David M. Blitzer, managing director and chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “Among the positive factors are consumers’ expectations of low inflation and further economic growth as well as recent increases in residential construction including single family housing starts.”

Month-over-month

Before seasonal adjustment, the NHPI posted a gain of 0.1% month-over-month in October. The 10-City Composite was unchanged and the 20-City Composite showed a 0.1% month-over-month advance in October.

After seasonal adjustment, the NHPI posted a gain of 0.9%, while the 10-City and 20-City Composites both increased 0.8% month-over-month. Ten of 20 cities reported increases in October before seasonal adjustment; after seasonal adjustment, all 20 cities increased for the month.

Looking ahead

The recent action by the Federal Reserve, wherein they raised the Fed funds target rate by 25 basis points, along with spreading expectations of further increases in 2016, are leading some to wonder if mortgage interest rates might rise.

“Typically, increases in short term interest rates lead to smaller increases in long term interest rates,” Blitzer noted. “The latest economic projections published by the Fed following the recent rate increase suggest that the Fed funds rate will be around 2.6% in September 2017 compared to a current rate of about 0.5%. These data suggest that potential home buyers need not fear runaway mortgage interest rates.”

The price of homes posted a slightly stronger year-over-rear increase in October than we saw during the previous month. Prices also rose on a month-over-mo...
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Home prices show solid year-over-year increase in October

Low supply and strong demand are behind the rise

If you're a homeowner hoping that your abode was worth more in October than it was a year earlier, you should like this.

CoreLogic's Home Price Index (HPI) shows prices were up both year-over-year and month-over-month in October.

According to the HPI, home prices nationwide -- including distressed sales -- increased by 6.8% from October 2014 to October 2015 and 1.0% from September to October.

Distressed sales include real estate-owned (REO) and short sales.

“The rise in home prices over the past few years has largely been a healthy trend,” said Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic. “The shadow inventory has been reduced significantly and home equity levels are now approaching pre-recession levels.”

Looking ahead

The CoreLogic HPI Forecast indicates that home prices will increase by 5.2% on a year-over-year basis from October 2015 to October 2016, and the projected month-over-month gain is negligible (0.1%) from October 2015 to November 2015.

The CoreLogic HPI Forecast is a projection of home prices using the CoreLogic HPI and other economic variables. Values are derived from state-level forecasts by weighting indices according to the number of owner-occupied households for each state.

“Many markets have experienced a low inventory of homes for sale along with strong buyer demand, which is sustaining upward pressure on home prices,” said CoreLogic Chief Economist Dr. Frank Nothaft, adding that these conditions are likely to persist into the new year. “A year from now, as we finish out October 2016,” he added,” we expect the CoreLogic national Home Price Index appreciation to slow to 5.2%.”

If you're a homeowner hoping that your abode was worth more in October than it was a year earlier, you should like this.CoreLogic's Home Price Index (H...
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Home prices post across-the-board gains in September

Strength comes largely from the West

Home prices across the U.S. continued to rise in September, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices.

Year-over-year

The National Index, covering all nine U.S. census divisions, recorded a slightly higher year-over-year gain with a 4.9% annual increase in September 2015 versus a 4.6% increase in August 2015. The 10-City Composite was up 5.0% in the year ending in September, compared to 4.7% in the previous year. The 20-City Composite’s year-over-year gain was 5.5% versus 5.1% in the year ending in September.

After adjusting for the CPI core rate of inflation, the S&P/Case Shiller National Home Price Index rose 3% from September 2014 to September 2015.

San Francisco, Denver, and Portland reported the highest year-over-year gains among the 20 cities, with double-digit price increases of 11.2%, 10.9%, and 10.1%, respectively. Seventeen cities reported greater price increases in the year ending September 2015 versus the year ending August 2015. Phoenix had the longest streak of year-over-year increases, reporting a gain of 5.3% in September 2015 -- the tenth consecutive increase in annual price gains.

“Home prices and housing continue to show strength with home prices rising at more than double the rate of inflation,” said David M. Blitzer, Managing Director and Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “The general economy appeared to slow slightly earlier in the fall, but is now showing renewed strength.”

Month-over-month

Before seasonal adjustment, the National Index posted a gain of 0.2% month-over-month in September. Both the 10-City Composite and 20-City Composite reported gains of 0.2% month-over-month. After seasonal adjustment, the National Index posted a gain of 0.8%, while the 10-City and 20-City Composites both increased 0.6% month-over-month. Fifteen of 20 cities reported increases in September before seasonal adjustment; after seasonal adjustment, 19 cities increased for the month.

Blizter says that while interest rate increases from the Federal Reserve may be in the cards, he doesn't expect a major impact on the housing market.

“While this will make news,” he said, “it is not likely to push mortgage rates far above the recent level of 4% on 30 year conventional loans. In the last year, mortgage rates have moved in a narrow range as home prices have risen; it will take much more from the Fed to slow home price gains.”

Home prices across the U.S. continued to rise in September, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices.Year-over-yearThe National Index, ...
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Housing affordability slips in third quarter

California leads the way in lack of affordability

Rising home prices and interest rates produced a slight decline in housing affordability in the third quarter according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index (HOI), which was released today.

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index (HOI) shows 62.2% of new and existing homes sold between the beginning of July and end of September were affordable to families earning the U.S. median income of $65,800. That's down 1% from the second quarter.

The national median home price increased slightly from $230,000 in the second quarter to $231,000 in the third quarter. Meanwhile, average mortgage rates edged higher -- from 3.99% to 4.18% in the same period.

"The decline in the index was slight and affordability remains good," said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. "With mortgage rates near historic lows and home prices advancing at a modest pace, this is an excellent time to buy."

Most affordable markets

Syracuse, N.Y., was rated the nation's most affordable major housing market, switching places with Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, Ohio-Pa., which fell to the second slot on the list. In Syracuse, 91.7% of all new and existing homes sold in this year's third quarter were affordable to families, earning the area's median income of $68,500.

Rounding out the top five affordable major housing markets in respective order were Harrisburg-Carlisle, Pa.; Indianapolis-Carmel, Ind.; and Scranton-Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

Meanwhile, Glens Falls, N.Y. claimed the title of most affordable small housing market. There, 92.6% of homes sold during the quarter were affordable to families, earning the area's median income of $65,400.

Smaller markets joining Glens Falls at the top of the list included Sandusky, Ohio; Kokomo, Ind.; Springfield, Ohio; and Rockford, Ill.

Least affordable markets

For the 12th consecutive quarter, San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City, Calif. was the nation's least affordable major housing market. There, just 10.5% of homes sold in the third quarter were affordable to families, earning the area's median income of $103,400.

Other major metros at the bottom of the affordability chart were located in California. In descending order, they included Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale.; Santa Ana-Anaheim-Irvine.; San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara.; and Santa Rosa-Petaluma.

All five of the least affordable small housing markets were also in California. At the very bottom of the affordability chart was Santa Cruz-Watsonville, Calif., where 16.5% of all new and existing homes sold were affordable to families, earning the area's median income of $87,000. Other small markets at the lowest end of the affordability scale included Salinas; Napa; San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles; and Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-Goleta, respectively.

"Attractive home prices and interest rates, along with firming job growth, are helping housing markets across the country to gradually improve," said NAHB Chairman Tom Woods, a home builder from Blue Springs, Mo. "While this bodes well for housing in the coming year, builders continue to face challenges, including a lack of available lots and skilled labor."

Rising home prices and interest rates produced a slight decline in housing affordability in the third quarter according to the National Association of Home...
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Home prices post year-over-year and month-over-month gains in September

Analysts see the trend continuing

The increase in home prices is continuing into the autumn months.

The CoreLogic Home Price Index (HPI) shows home prices -- including distressed sales -- were up 6.4% in September from the same time a year ago and posted a month-over-month increase of 0.6%.

“After nearly 10 years of very high home price volatility, home price increases have been remarkably stable for the last 15 months, ranging between a 4.8% and 6.5% year-over-year increase,” said Sam Khater, deputy chief economist for CoreLogic. “Home price volatility is now back to the long-term trend prior to the boom and bust which is a good barometer of the market’s stability and health.”

Looking ahead

The CoreLogic HPI Forecast indicates that home prices will increase by 4.7% percent on a year-over-year basis from September 2015 to September 2016, but could potentially dip slightly month over month from September 2015 to October 2015.

The CoreLogic HPI Forecast is a projection of home prices using the CoreLogic HPI and other economic variables. Values are derived from state-level forecasts by weighting indices according to the number of owner-occupied households for each state.

“The continued growth in home prices is welcome news for many homeowners but more markets are becoming overvalued. In the near term, this trend is likely to continue and pose evaluated risks to the housing economy,” said Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic.

"More has to be done to expand inventories if we are going to address the emerging affordability crisis, especially in hot markets like California and Colorado.”

The increase in home prices is continuing into the autumn months.The CoreLogic Home Price Index (HPI) shows home prices -- including distressed sales -...
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Prices for condos rising faster than single-family homes

Urban units often compare favorably to renting

It wasn't so long ago that the value of the average condominium was crashing hard. During the housing market meltdown, these units lost value at an alarming rate.

Fast forward to today, and you'll find condos are gaining value at a faster rate than single-family homes in many areas of the country. A report by real estate marketing site Zillow shows condo values are up 5.1% compared to 3.7% for single family homes.

It's not hard to figure out why. Single-family homes have already gained back a lot of their value since the depths of the Great Recession. In a way, condos are simply catching up.

Demographics

But demographics also play a role. Since condos are often an entry-level home purchase, the recent pick-up in first-time home buyers means more demand for condos.

Condos also tend to be numerous in urban areas, and cities are where young Millennials want to be. Zillow data shows that condo values outpaced house values the most in the New York City metro area, in Dallas and Houston, and in Boston and Denver.

Denver is one of the hottest housing markets in the nation. Condo values are up a head-spinning 20% there, rising 4% faster than single-family homes. It's earning condos new respect among real estate professionals.

Better investment now

“The housing bust hit condo values hard, and over the past few years, buying a condo wasn’t always considered a good investment compared to a single family home,” said Zillow Chief Economist Dr. Svenja Gudell. “But that’s changing, and condos increasingly represent a strong-performing, often affordable choice, particularly for first-time buyers interested both in homeownership and in keeping a lower-maintenance, city lifestyle.”

That's not to say there aren't some extra costs associated with owning a condo. Home Owner Association (HOA) fees can be high for some developments, but even with those fees the bottom line can often compare favorably with rents.

A report by Zillow's sister site Trulia notes that rents for a one-bedroom apartment can run between $2,000 and $4,000 a month in San Francisco and New York.

In Philadelphia, a market where many people who rent are saving up to buy, demand for condos has driven up prices by 2.3%. At the same time, the value of single-family homes dipped slightly.

It wasn't so long ago that the value of the average condominium was crashing hard. During the housing market meltdown, these units lost value at an alarmin...
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Home price gains pick up steam in August

Prices rose on both a year-over-ear and month-over-month basis

Home prices across the U.S. continued their rise over the last 12 months during August.

The S&P/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index -- which covers all nine U.S. census divisions -- was up 4.7% on a year-over-year basis in August, versus a 4.6% increase in July.

The 10-City Composite increased 4.7% in the year to August compared with 4.5% in the prior month, while the 20-City Composite’s year-over-year gain was 5.1% vs. 4.9% in the year to July.

San Francisco, Denver, and Portland reported the highest year-over-year gains among the 20 cities with price increases of 10.7%, 10.7%, and 9.4%, respectively. Fifteen cities reported greater price increases in the year ending August 2015 compared with the year ending July 2015. San Francisco and Denver are the only cities with double digit increases.

Phoenix, which reported an increase of 4.9% in August, had the longest streak of year-over-year increases, posting the ninth consecutive increase in annual price gains. Portland posted a 9.4% annual increase, compared with 8.5% the month before for the biggest jump in year-over-year gains during August.

“Home prices continue to climb at a 4% to 5% annual rate across the country,” said David M. Blitzer, Managing Director and Chairman of the Index Committee for S&P Dow Jones Indices. “Most other recent housing indicators also show strength. Housing starts topped an annual rate of 1.2 million units in the latest report with continuing strength in both single family homes and apartments. The National Association of Home Builders sentiment survey, reflecting current strength, reached the highest level since 2005, before the housing collapse. Sales of existing homes are running about 5.5 million units annually with inventories of about five months of sales. However, September new home sales took an unexpected and sharp drop as low inventories were cited as a possible cause.”

Month-over-month

The National Index posted a gain of 0.3% month-over-month in August, with the 10-City Composite and 20-City Composite reporting gains of 0.3% and 0.4% month-over-month, respectively. Eighteen of 20 cities reported increases in August.

“A notable part of today’s economy is the continuing low inflation rate; in the year to September, consumer prices were unchanged,” Blitzer added. “Even excluding food and energy, the core inflation was 1.9%. One result is that a 5% price increase in the value of a house means more today than it did in 2005-2006, the peak of the housing boom when the inflation rate was higher. The rebound from the recent lows was faster than the 1997-2005 housing boom, and also much less driven by inflation.”

Home prices across the U.S., continued their rise over the last 12 months during August. The S&P/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index -- which cover...
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Housing affordability depends on more than just price

Location and income are important factors

When real estate economists talk about housing affordability, they tend to focus on home prices and interest rates.

While those are important, they aren't the only factors that determine whether a home is affordable. Another big consideration is the purchaser's income.

Researchers at real estate site Zillow conducted an interesting research project. They selected several occupational categories for which there is data on average salaries and compared that with home prices in various housing markets. The results were surprising.

Tale of two teachers

They found that teachers would have an easier time finding an affordable home in parts of California – known for pricey real estate – than in Salt Lake City. The reason? Teachers in California make a lot more money than teachers in Utah.

In Bakersfield, Calif., the median home value is $166,300, while the average teacher's salary is $61,000 a year. Since consumers in Bakersfield usually spend 22% of their income on a house payment, a Bakersfield teacher could afford a $310,000 home. In fact, currently 86% of the homes on the market would be in their price range.

It's a much different story in Salt Lake City, where the average teacher earns $38,000 a year and people historically spend the same share – 22% – of their incomes on a mortgage payment. There, teachers could buy a $195,000 home – meaning only about a quarter of the homes on the Salt Lake City market would fall within their budget.

The Midwest isn't always a bargain

That's why homes in the middle of the country aren't the bargains they appear to be. Home prices in the Midwest are less than comparable houses on either coast, but salaries are generally lower too.

"There's a lot more to home buying affordability than just the cost of the home. Incomes vary a lot across the country – even within the same occupation," said Zillow Chief Economist Dr. Svenja Gudell. "There's also the question of how much of your paycheck you're willing to put toward a house payment, and finally, whether you can find a home in your price range.”

Gudell says many potential buyers are doing all the right things before buying a home – saving a healthy down payment, organizing finances, and qualifying for a loan – only to find there are few homes available within their budget and close to their job.

According to Zillow's research, if you are a lawyer or judge you could afford almost every home on the market in Buffalo or Syracuse, N.Y. But don't move to Stockton, Calif., because 34% of homes would be out of your price range.

When real estate economists talk about housing affordability, they tend to focus on home prices and interest rates.While those are important, they aren...
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Home prices post solid year-over-year gain in August

Values were also up on a month-over-month basis

Your home is likely worth more than it was a year ago according to recent statistics. At the same time, it is probably worth more than it was just a month ago in August.

According to the CoreLogic Home Price Index (HPI), home prices nationwide -- including distressed sales (which include short sales and real estate-owned (REO) transactions) -- rose 6.9% in August from the same time a year ago, and were up 1.2% from July.

“Home price appreciation in cities like New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, Atlanta and San Francisco remain very strong reflecting higher demand and constrained supplies,” said Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic.

“Continued gains in employment, wage growth and historically low mortgage rates are bolstering home sales and home price gains. In addition, an increasing number of major metropolitan areas are experiencing ever-more severe shortfalls in affordable housing due to supply constraints and higher rental costs. These factors will likely support continued home price appreciation in 2016 and possibly beyond.”

Looking ahead

The CoreLogic HPI Forecast indicates home prices will increase by 4.3% on a year-over-year basis from August 2015 to August 2016 and remain unchanged month-over-month from August 2015 to September 2015.

The forecast is a projection of home prices using the HPI and other economic variables. Values are derived from state-level forecasts by weighting indices according to the number of owner-occupied households for each state.

“Economic forecasts generally project higher mortgage rates and more single-family housing starts for 2016.” said Frank Nothaft, chief economist for CoreLogic. “These forces should dampen demand and augment supply, leading to a moderation in home price growth.”

Your home likely is worth more than it was a year ago and a month ago during August. According to the CoreLogic Home Price Index (HPI) home prices nationw...
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Home prices continue their gains into July

Values were up on both a year-over-year and month-over-month basis

Home prices across the country were higher in July on both a year-over-year and month-over-month basis, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices.

The leading measure of U.S. home prices, covering all nine U.S. census divisions, posted a year-over-year gain of 4.7% in July, versus a 4.5% increase in June. The 10-City Composite was virtually unchanged, rising 4.5% year-over-year, while the 20-City Composite was up 5.0%.

“Prices of existing homes and housing overall are seeing strong growth and contributing to recent solid growth for the economy,” said David M. Blitzer, Managing Director and Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “The S&P/Case Shiller National Home Price Index has risen at a 4% or higher annual rate since September 2012, well ahead of inflation.”

West leads the advance

San Francisco, Denver, and Dallas reported the highest year-over-year gains among the 20 cities with price increases of 10.4%, 10.3%, and 8.7%, respectively. Fourteen cities reported greater price increases in the year ending July 2015 over the year ending June 2015. San Francisco and Denver are the only cities with a double digit increase, while Phoenix had the longest streak of year-over-year increases, reporting an increase of 4.6% in July -- the eighth consecutive year-over-year increase. Boston posted a 4.3% annual increase, versus 3.2% in June for the biggest jump in year-over-year gains in July.

Month-over-month

Before seasonal adjustment, the National Index posted a gain of 0.7% month-over-month in July, with the 10-City Composite and 20-City Composite both rising 0.6%. After seasonal adjustment, the National index posted a gain of 0.4%, while the 10-City and 20-City Composites were both down 0.2%. All 20 cities reported increases in July before seasonal adjustment; after seasonal adjustment, ten were down, nine were up, and one was unchanged.

The three cities with the largest cumulative price increases since January 2000 are all in California: Los Angeles (138%), San Francisco (116%), and San Diego (115%). The two smallest gains since January 2000 are Detroit (3%) and Cleveland (10%). The Sunbelt cities -- Miami, Tampa, Phoenix, and Las Vegas, which were the poster children of the housing boom, have yet to make new all-time highs.

Home prices across the country were higher in July on both a year-over-year and month-over-month basis, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indice...
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More than one-quarter of U.S. homes are losing value

Disturbing pattern also appeared just before the housing bubble popped

Despite real estate industry statistics that consistently show a rise in the average home price, there is evidence that these increases skip over several significant housing markets.

In fact, real estate market site Zillow has compiled statistics showing that more than one-quarter of U.S. homes lost value over the last year, at a time when the real estate market as a whole was thought to be still improving.

The disconnect is largely due to the nature of real estate, and the importance of “location, location, location.” In some markets, prices have already eclipsed those at the height of the housing bubble. Others are still struggling to put the housing crisis in the rear view mirror.

From a national standpoint, Zillow says homes gained 3.3% from a year ago. Not a big gain but more than the inflation rate.

Leveling off

But the numbers show the national growth rate in home prices has leveled off over the past five months, suggesting the housing recovery is coming to an end and the market is returning to normal.

A disturbing twist, however, is the 27.9% of homes that lost value over the past year. Something like that happened in the recent past – just before the market crash, in fact, when 21.2% of homes were worth less.

The eroding values peaked in December 2008, when 81.6% of homes had lost value. Today, the most significant falling values are clustered in East Coast markets.

According to Zillow, 48% of homes in Baltimore, 43% of homes in Philadelphia, 41% of homes in Washington, DC, and 38.6% of homes in New York and Northern New Jersey have lost value over the last year.

Markets in the Midwest also had their share of losses. Home values were down 32% in Cincinnati, 31% in Cleveland, and 27% in St. Louis.

Hot markets still holding value

At the other end of the scale, some real estate markets remain red hot, with homes shedding little of their value. Markets like Denver, Dallas, San Jose, and San Francisco all saw double-digit home value growth over the past year. Less than five percent of homes in Denver and Dallas were worth less in August 2015 than they were a year ago.

"We're not going in reverse, but we are hitting the brakes a bit in some markets," said Zillow Chief Economist Dr. Svenja Gudell. "It's easy to say the recession is over when a third of the biggest markets are more expensive now than ever before, but we're still seeing a number of homes losing value. The reality is there are still areas lagging behind in the recovery."

If you're renting, does that mean you should be dissuaded from buying? Again, it depends upon the market. However, renting in most areas is still no bargain.

The Zillow Rent Index rose 3.8% on an annual basis to$1,381, suggesting that rents are rising faster than home values.

Despite real estate industry statistics that consistently show a rise in the average home price, there is evidence that these increases skip over several s...
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Home prices increase accelerates in July

Prices are still below the peaks they hit prior to the housing meltdown

Housing prices continued their increase in mid-summer.

According to the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), the House Price Index (HPI) for July was up 0.6% on a seasonally adjusted basis from the previous month.

From July 2014 to July 2015, house prices were up 5.8%. The HPI is now 1.1% below its March 2007 peak and roughly the same as the November 2006 index level.

For the nine census divisions, seasonally adjusted month-over-month price changes ranged from -1.2% in the New England division to +1.6% in the Mountain division.

The year-over-year changes were all positive, ranging from +2.1% in the New England division to +9.4% in the Mountain division.

The HPI is calculated using home sales price information from mortgages sold to, or guaranteed by, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

The complete HPI report is available on the FHFA website.

Housing prices continued their increase in mid-summer. According to the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), the House Price Index (HPI) for July was up...
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What's your home worth? Probably less than you think

Home values have peaked but their owners haven't figured it out yet

To sell your home without it lingering on the market, any Realtor will tell you having it priced right is one of the most important things you can do.

But the latest data from Quicken Loans suggest homeowners who want to sell still have a hard time putting a realistic value on their properties.

Each month Quicken Loans releases its Home Value Index (HVI), a measure of home value changes based on actual appraisals. It also records homeowners' estimates of what their homes are worth, which it calls the Home Price Perception Index (HPPI). Those two numbers remained out of alignment in August.

In August, the data show the gap between homeowners' estimates and what appraisers say a home is worth was 2.65%. And the reality gap appears to be growing each month.

Increasingly wider gap

Homeowners' estimates of their homes' value exceeded appraiser opinions by a wider margin in August than in July, making August the seventh consecutive month of an increasingly wider gap between opinions.

According to the HVI, national housing values were nearly flat in August from the month before, with a slight drop of 0.05%. This is less than the 0.27% decrease in July. Home values continued to rise on a year-over-year basis, showing a 3.24% increase in value nationally compared to August 2014.

"While the month-to-month number is interesting to examine, it is not the single most important factor of the HPPI report,” said Quicken Loans chief economist Bob Walters. “Instead, the focus should be on the trend, the direction it's heading and how fast."

Walters says the disconnect between estimate and reality may lie in the fact that homeowners may be assuming that home values have been in a steady, linear path upward. In reality, home values appear to have peaked and have remained mostly flat this year.

Zillow sees similar trend

In late August real estate market site Zillowreported the first negative monthly change in home values since the market began its recovery nearly four years ago. It reported homes lost 0.1% of their value in July, falling to a Zillow Home Value Index of $179,900. Zillow also found values up on an annual basis but said the recent trend is unmistakably flat or downward.

Of the 517 metros covered by Zillow, 204 saw a slowdown, including major metros like Washington, D.C., and Cincinnati, where home values declined month-over-month in July. Nothing to be alarmed about, Zillow says, just a return to normal.

"This slight dip in home values is a sign of the times. Many people didn't think it was happening, but it is: we're going negative," said Zillow chief economist Svenja Gudell.

Gudell says the trend might even be good news for buyers, who will find homes more affordable. That is, if sellers have a realistic view of what their home is worth.

To sell your home without it lingering on the market, any Realtor will tell you having it priced right is one of the most important things you can do. B...
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Another surge in home prices nationwide

Colorado led the way in year-over-year increases

Another strong year-over-year jump in home prices.

According to property information, analytics, and data-enabled services provider CoreLogic, its Home Price Index (HPI) shows prices across the country -- including distressed sales -- increased by 6.9% in July from the same month a year ago.

On a month-over-month basis, prices -- including distressed sales -- were up 1.7% from June.

Distressed sales include short sales and real estate-owned (REO) transactions.

“Home sales continued their brisk rebound in July and home prices reflected that, up 6.9 percent from a year ago,” said Frank Nothaft, chief economist for CoreLogic. “Over the same period, the National Association of Realtors reported existing sales up 10% and the Census Bureau reported new home sales up 26% in July.”

Substantial growth

Including distressed sales, only Colorado has more than 10% year-over-year growth. Additionally, only 10 states have experienced increased growth in the last year that matched or surpassed the nation as a whole; those states are: Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Nevada, New York, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, and Washington.

Fifteen states reached new price peaks since January 1976 when the index began; these include Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Hawaii, Iowa, Kentucky, Montana, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Texas. Only two states experienced home price depreciation -- Massachusetts (-2.1%) and Mississippi (-0.8%).

Excluding distressed sales, prices jumped 6.7% in July from July 2014 and posted a month-over-month increase of 1.5%. Excluding distressed sales, only West Virginia (-0.3%) and Vermont (-0.1%) showed year-over-year home price depreciation in July.

“Low mortgage rates and stronger consumer confidence are supporting a resurgence in home sales of late,” said Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic. “Adding to overall housing demand is the benefit of a better labor market which has provided millennials the financial independence to form new households and escape ever-rising rental costs.”

Report highlights

  • Including distressed sales, the five states with the highest home price appreciation were: Colorado (+10.4%), Washington (+9.9%), Nevada (+9.1%), Hawaii (+8.9%), and Oregon (+8.8%).
  • Excluding distressed sales, the five states with the highest home price appreciation were: Colorado (+10.1%), Washington (+9.5%), Nevada (+9.1%), Oregon (+9.1%), and New York (+9%).
  • Including distressed transactions, the peak-to-current change in the national HPI (from April 2006 to July 2015) was -6.6%. Excluding distressed transactions, the peak-to-current change for the same period was -3.5%.
  • Including distressed transactions, the five states with the largest peak-to-current declines were: Nevada (-30.6%), Florida (-28.1%), Arizona (-25.1%), Rhode Island (-24.2%), and Maryland (-20.2%).
  • Of the top 100 Core Based Statistical Areas (CBSAs) measured by population, 95 showed year-over-year increases. The five CBSAs that showed year-over-year declines were: Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, Md. (-0.3%); Boston, Mass. (-3.8%); New Haven-Milford, Conn, (-1.9%); New Orleans-Metairie, La. (-4.9%); and Worcester, Mass.-Conn. (-7.2%).

Looking ahead

The CoreLogic HPI Forecast indicates home prices -- including distressed sales -- will increase 0.5% month-over-month from July to August, and 4.7% -- on a year-over-year basis from July 2015 to July 2016.

Excluding distressed sales, home prices are projected post a 0.4% month-over-month gain from July to August and 4.6% year-over-year from July 2015 to July 2016.

The CoreLogic HPI Forecast is a projection of home prices using the CoreLogic HPI and other economic variables. Values are derived from state-level forecasts by weighting indices according to the number of owner-occupied households for each state.

Another strong year-over-year jump in home prices. According to property information, analytics and data-enabled services provider CoreLogic, its Home Pri...
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Zillow: home values slip first time in four years

Analysts say market is getting back to normal

For economists worrying that home prices were rising too far, too fast – here's some good news. Real estate market site Zillowreports that the average home went down in value last month for the first time since the market began its recovery in 2011.

U.S. homes lost 0.1% of their value in July, falling to a Zillow Home Value Index of $179,900. But on a year-over-year basis, homes still went up in value by 3.0%, down from 3.4% in June.

The numbers suggest the run-up in prices is more of a pause than a reversal, though the next few months will tell that story.

Zillow covers 517 metros in its housing index and 204 metros saw a slowdown in July. Strong markets like Washington, DC and Cincinnati gave some ground last month. Market analysts at Zillow say the slowing appreciation is simply a sign that the market is returning to normal.

Back to normal

Markets like Denver, San Francisco, San Jose, and Dallas slowed from double-digit growth to the single digits.

"This slight dip in home values is a sign of the times. Many people didn't think it was happening, but it is: we're going negative," said Zillow Chief Economist Svenja Gudell. "We've been expecting to see a monthly decline as markets return to normal.”

Gudell says recent homebuyers shouldn't panic. This is not a bursting of a bubble and 10% declines are on no one's radar.

“The market is leveling off, and it's good news, particularly for buyers, because it will ease some of the competitive pressure," she said.

Rising inventories

The leveling off of prices comes at a time when banks are putting a lot more foreclosed homes back on the market, replenishing declining inventories. In many markets, it was the lack of homes for sale that put upward pressure on home prices.

As we reported just last week, there were 124,910 foreclosure filings in the U.S. in July, a sharp 7% rise from June and a 14% surge from July 2014. But that was because many old foreclosures were finally seized by lenders and placed back on the market, in many cases at below market prices.

As distressed properties sell in the coming months, their lower prices can be expected to pull down the average sales price, or at least keep it from rising very much. But that doesn't necessarily mean the real estate market is slipping.

Boost for first-time buyers

And it might very well be good news for the millions of first-time buyers who have put off homeownership but now are sticking their toes into the market. In addition to more distressed property for sale, Zillow says homeowners who have been waiting to sell until prices hit their peak may now be ready to move.

Meanwhile, the incentives to buy remain strong. Interest rates remain near their historic lows and Zillow reports rents continue to grow at a rapid pace, up 4.2% from last July.

For economists worrying that home prices were rising too far, too fast – here's some good news. Real estate market site Zillow reports that the average hom...
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The climb continues for home prices

Cities in the west continue to lead the way

Home prices continued their rise across the country over the last 12 months during June, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices.

The latest data shows that on a year-over-year basis, June was a better month for price hikes than May. The National Home Price Index, which covers all nine U.S. census divisions, recorded a 4.5% annual increase in June versus a 4.4% increase in May.

The 10-City Composite had marginally lower year-over-year gains, with an increase of 4.6% year-over-year. The 20-City Composite year-over-year pace was virtually flat, rising 5.0% year-over-year.

Way out west

Denver, San Francisco, and Dallas reported the highest year-over-year gains among the 20 cities with price increases of 10.2%, 9.5%, and 8.2%, respectively. Eleven cities reported greater price increases in the year ending June 2015 over the year ending May 2015.

Denver is the only city with a double digit increase, and Phoenix and Detroit had the longest streaks of year-over-year increases. Phoenix reported a 4.1% in June 2015, the seventh consecutive year-over-year increase. Detroit recorded 5.7% in June 2015, the sixth consecutive year-over-year increase.

“Nationally, home prices continue to rise at a 4-5% annual rate, two to three times the rate of inflation,” said David M. Blitzer, managing director and chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “While prices in San Francisco and Denver are rising far faster than those in Washington D.C., New York or Cleveland, the city-to-city price patterns are little-changed in the last year. Washington saw the smallest year-over-year gains in five of the last six months; San Francisco and Denver ranked either first or second of all cities in the last five months. The price gains have been consistent as the unemployment rate declined with steady inflation and an unchanged Fed policy."

Month-over-month

Before seasonal adjustment, the National index and 20-City Composite both reported gains of 1.0% month-over-month in June. The 10-City Composite posted a month-over-month gain of 0.9%. After seasonal adjustment, the National index posted a gain of 0.1% while the 10-City and 20-City Composites were both down 0.1% month-over-month.

All 20 cities reported increases in June before seasonal adjustment; after seasonal adjustment, nine were down, nine were up, and two were unchanged.

FHFA prices

Separately the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) House Price Index (HPI) shows prices were up 1.2% in the second quarter -- the 16th consecutive quarterly price increase in the purchase-only, seasonally adjusted index. FHFA's seasonally adjusted monthly index for June was up 0.2% from May. House prices rose 5.4% from a year earlier.

"Home price growth in the second quarter once again far exceeded the pace of overall inflation, even as mortgage rates drifted upwards," said FHFA Principal Economist Andrew Leventis. "Although too early to tell whether it's a sign of a slowdown, the monthly appreciation rate in June was more modest than we have seen in a while."

Report highlights

  • Home prices rose in every state between the second quarter of 2014 and the second quarter of 2015. The top five areas in annual appreciation: 1) Colorado – 10.6%, 2) Nevada – 10.5%, 3) Florida – 9.7%, 4) Hawaii – 9.5% and 5) Washington – 8.8%.
  • Among the 100 most-populated metropolitan areas in the U.S., four-quarter price increases were greatest in San Francisco-Redwood City-South San Francisco, Calif., where prices increased by 18.3%. Prices were weakest in the Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, Pa.-N.J., where they fell -1.1%.
  • Of the nine census divisions, the South Atlantic division experienced the strongest increase in the second quarter, posting a 1.7% quarterly increase and a 6.1% increase since last year. House price appreciation was weakest in the Middle Atlantic division, where prices were flat in the second quarter.

The HPI is calculated using home sales price information from mortgages sold to, or guaranteed by, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

The complete report is avaliable on the FHFA website.

Home prices continued their rise across the country over the last 12 months during June, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller http://us.spindices.com/ Home P...
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Home prices post 40th consecutive monthly gain

CoreLogic reports a 6.5% year-over-year advance in June

Home prices continued to rise in June on both a year-over-year and month-over-month basis.

CoreLogic reports its Home Price Index (HPI), which track home prices nationwide shows sales -- including distressed sales -- rose by 6.5% in June from the same month a year earlier. That marks 40 consecutive months of year-over-year increases in home prices nationally.

Distressed sales include short sales and real estate-owned (REO) transactions.

On a month-over-month basis, home prices -- including distressed sales -- rose 1.7% from May's level.

New peaks reached

Including distressed sales, 35 states and the District of Columbia were at or within 10% of their peak prices in June. Fifteen states -- Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Hawaii, Iowa, Kentucky, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and Wyoming -- and D.C. reached new price peaks.

Excluding distressed sales, home prices posted a year-over-year gain of 6.4% , and increased by 1.4% month-over-month. Excluding distressed sales, only Massachusetts (-1.5%) and Louisiana (-0.1%) showed year-over-year depreciation in June.

“The tightness of the for-sale inventory varies across cities. Throughout the U.S., the months’ supply was 4.8 months in the CoreLogic home-listing data for June, but varied greatly across cities. In San Jose and Denver, there was only 1.6 months’ supply of homes on the market, whereas Philadelphia had a 7 months’ supply and Providence had a 6.6 months’ supply,” said Frank Nothaft, chief economist for CoreLogic. “The stronger appreciation was registered in cities with limited inventory and strong homebuyer activity, such as San Jose and Denver.”

Report highlights

  • Including distressed sales, the 5 states with the highest home price appreciation were: Colorado (+9.8%), Washington (+8.9%), New York (+8.3%), South Carolina (+8%) and Nevada (+8%).
  • Excluding distressed sales, the 5 states with the highest home price appreciation were: Colorado (+9.3%), New York (+8.5%), Washington (+8.3%), Oregon (+8.2%) and Nevada (+7.9%).
  • Including distressed sales, only 4 states experienced home price depreciation: Massachusetts (-5%), Connecticut (-0.6%), Louisiana (-0.4%) and Mississippi (-0.3%).
  • Including distressed transactions, the peak-to-current change in the national HPI (from April 2006 to June 2015) was -7.4%. Excluding distressed transactions, the peak-to-current change for the same period was -4%.
  • The 5 states with the largest peak-to-current declines, including distressed transactions, were: Nevada (-32.2%), Florida (-28.7%), Rhode Island (-26.5%), Arizona (-25.8%) and Maryland (-21.2%).
  • Of the top 100 Core Based Statistical Areas (CBSAs) measured by population, 93 showed year-over-year increases. The seven CBSAs that showed year-over-year declines were: Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, Md. (-8%); Boston, Mass. (-4.4%); Camden, N.J. (-0.5%); Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, Conn, (-0.1%); New Haven-Milford, Conn. (-1.8%); New Orleans-Metairie, La. (-6.1%) and Worcester, Mass.-Conn. (-7%).

“The current cycle of home price appreciation is closing in on its fourth year with no apparent end in sight,” said Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic. “Pent-up buying demand and affordability, together with higher consumer confidence buoyed by a more robust labor market, are a potent mix fueling a 6.5% jump in home prices through June with more increases likely to come.”

Looking ahead

The CoreLogic HPI forecast indicates home prices -- including distressed sales -- will increase by 0.6% month-over-month from June 2015 to July 2015 and by 4.5% on a year-over-year basis from June 2015 to June 2016.

Excluding distressed sales, home prices are projected to increase by 0.5% month-over-month from June 2015 to July 2015 and by 4.2% year-over-year from June 2015 to June 2016.

Home prices continued to rise in June on both a year-over-year and month-over-month basis. CoreLogic reports its Home Price Index (HPI), which track home ...
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Increase in home prices continues in May

A slowdown in the rate of increase may be in the works

Home prices continued their rise across the country over the last 12 months on both a year-over-year and month-over-month basis in May, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices.

Both the 10-City Composite and National indices showed slightly higher year-over-year gains while the 20-City Composite had marginally lower year-over-year gains when compared with the previous month.

The 10-City Composite posted a year-over-year gain of 4.7%, while the 20-City Composite was up 4.9%. The S&P/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index, covering all 9 U.S. census divisions, recorded a 4.4% annual increase in May; the advance in April was 4.3%.

“As home prices continue rising, they are sending more upbeat signals than other housing market indicators,” said David M. Blitzer, Managing Director and Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “Nationally, single family home price increases have settled into a steady 4%-5% annual pace following the double-digit bubbly pattern of 2013.

At the same time though, Blitzer expects the rate of home price increases is more likely to slow than to accelerate over the next two years or so. “Prices are increasing about twice as fast as inflation or wages, “he notes, adding “moreover, other housing measures are less robust. Housing starts are only at about 1.2 million units annually, and only about half of total starts are single family homes. Sales of new homes are low compared to sales of existing homes.”

The West leads the way

Denver, San Francisco and Dallas reported the highest year-over-year gains among the 20 cities with price increases of 10.0%, 9.7% and 8.4%, respectively. Ten cities reported greater price increases in the year ended May 2015 over the year ended April 2015.

New York and Phoenix reported 6 consecutive months of increases in their year-over-year returns since November 2014. Year-over-year returns in New York increased from 1.3% last November to 3.0% in May. Phoenix climbed from 2.0% to 3.8% in the same period.

Month-over-month

Before seasonal adjustment, the National index, 10-City Composite and 20-City Composite all posted a gain of 1.1% month-over-month in May. After seasonal adjustment, the National index was unchanged; the 10-City and 20-City Composites were both down 0.2% month-over-month. All 20 cities reported increases in May before seasonal adjustment; after seasonal adjustment, 10 were down, 8 were up, and 2 were unchanged.

Blitzer says first time homebuyers are the weak spot in the market, providing the demand and liquidity that supports trading up by current home owners. But he adds, “Without a boost in first timers, there is less housing market activity, fewer existing homes being put on the market, and more worry about inventory.”

Research at the Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank argues that one should not blame millennials for the absence of first time buyers. The age distribution of first time buyers has not changed much since 2000; if anything, the median age has dropped slightly.

“Other research at the New York Fed points to the size of mortgage down payments as a key factor,” said Blitzer. “The difference between a 5% and 20% down payment -- particularly for people who currently rent -- has a huge impact on buyers’ willingness to buy a home. Mortgage rates are far less important to first time buyers than down payments.”  

Home prices continued their rise across the country over the last 12 months on both a year-over-year and month-over-month basis in May, according to the S&...
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Home sales outpacing supply

The balance of power is tipping to sellers

Home sales are rising, which is good news for the housing market. But the downside to that good news is a shrinking inventory.

As homes disappear from the market, there aren't additional ones to take their place. That tips the balance of power toward sellers and could frustrate the new wave of first-time buyers just starting to look.

By its accounting, online real estate marketplace Redfin says home sales jumped 11.4% year-over-year in June, leaving buyers looking at the lowest inventory of available homes on record.

Selling quickly

June was also the fastest month for home sales on record, with median days on market falling to 26, breaking the record of 27 days set in June 2013.

Even with robust buyer demand and low inventory, Redfin reports prices have not responded accordingly. Prices were up, but only by a modest 5.1% year-over-year.

Even 5.1% might be high, since Denver, Miami, Los Angeles and San Francisco are commanding premiums that pushed up the national average. All four cities posted double-digit year-over-year price increases in June.

Prices elsewhere may have been held in check by conservative appraisals, which have become the norm under tighter loan underwriting guidelines.

Local Market Insights in June

In fact, some of the hotter markets are showing signs of cooling off over the last couple of months. In San Francisco, one of the most expensive housing markets in the nation, the median sale price fell 2.8% month-over-month, to $1.07 million. But year-over-year, prices were up 16.3%.

Redfin reports new listings in San Francisco declined 10.6% from June 2014. San Francisco hasn’t seen year-over-year growth in new listings since February 2014.

Home values continued to soar in Denver, rising 14.8% year-over-year to a median of $325,000. July was the eighth consecutive month of year-over-year price growth above 10%.

Denver was still the fastest-moving market, with half of all new listings selling in 6 days or less, followed by Seattle at 9, Portland at 10, and Boston and Omaha at 11.

According to Redfin, the pricey San Jose market suffered the biggest year-over-year drop in sales on record going back to 1998, falling by 50.7% since last year. In another bad sign for the market, inventory grew by 13.5% and average days on the market surged from 13 to 33 days.

Richmond, Va., led the nation in year-over-year sales growth, with a massive increase of 35.4% over last June. Boston had the highest increase from May to June at 49.3%.

Home sales are rising, which is good news for the housing market. But the downside to that good news is a shrinking inventory.As homes disappear from t...
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The rise in home prices shows no signs of abating

May marked the 39th straight month of gains

Be it ever so humble or not, the price of a home was up once again on both a year-over-year and month -over-month basis.

CoreLogic reports its Home Price Index (HPI) which shows that home prices nationwide, including distressed sales, rose 6.3% in May from the same month in 2014. This represents 39 months of consecutive year-over-year increases in home prices nationally.

On a month-over-month basis, home prices nationwide -- including distressed sales -- increased by 1.7% from April.

Distressed sales include short sales and real estate-owned (REO) transactions.

“Mortgage rates on 30-year fixed-rate loans remained below 4% through May, helping to fuel home-purchase activity,” said Frank Nothaft, chief economist for CoreLogic. “Our homes-for-sale listing data shows that markets with high demand and limited supply, such as San Francisco, are recording double-digit appreciation rates over the past year."

Moving toward their peaks

Including distressed sales, 33 states and the District of Columbia were at or within 10% of their peak prices in May. Ten states and DC reached price peaks not seen since January 1976. They include Alaska, Colorado, Iowa, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Vermont.

Excluding distressed sales, home prices were up 6.3% in May 2015 compared with May 2014, and 1.4% month-over-month. Only Massachusetts and Louisiana (both -0.2%) showed year-over-year depreciation May.

“The rate of home price appreciation ticked up in May with gains being fairly widely distributed across the country. Importantly, higher home prices over the past couple of years have spurred increases in new single-family construction,” said Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic. “Sales of newly built homes during the first five months of 2015 were up 23 percent from a year ago, and as rising values build equity for homeowners, we expect to see more existing homes offered for sale in the coming year.”

Report highlights

  • Including distressed sales, the 5 states with the highest home price appreciation were: South Carolina (+10.3%), Colorado (+9.8%), Washington (+8.8%), Florida (+8.7%) and Nevada (+8.3%).
  • Excluding distressed sales, the 5 states with the highest home price appreciation were: South Carolina (+9.6%), Colorado (+9.2%), Florida (+8.9%), Washington (+8.5%) and Oregon (+7.9%).
  • Including distressed sales, only 5 states experienced home price depreciation including: Massachusetts (-4.8%), Connecticut (-1.8%), Maryland (-1.5%), Mississippi (-1.4%) and Louisiana (-0.8%).
  • Including distressed transactions, the peak-to-current change in the national HPI (from April 2006 to May 2015) was -8.4%. Excluding distressed transactions, the peak-to-current change for the same period was -4.7%.
  • The 5 states with the largest peak-to-current declines, including distressed transactions, were: Nevada (-32.9%), Florida (-28.8%), Rhode Island (-27.5%), Arizona (-26%) and Maryland (-23.1%).
  • Of the top 100 Core Based Statistical Areas (CBSAs) measured by population, 92 showed year-over-year increases. The 8 CBSAs that showed year-over-year declines were: Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, Md. (-1.8%); Boston, Mass. (-4.8%); Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, Conn. (-0.32%); Cambridge-Newton-Framingham, Mass. (-2.9%); Camden, N.J. (-0.96%); New Orleans-Metairie, La. (-6.4%); Silver Spring-Frederick-Rockville, Md. (-0.31%) and Worcester, Mass.-Conn. (-6.6%).

Looking ahead

The CoreLogic HPI Forecast indicates home prices -- including distressed sales -- will increase by 0.9% month-over-month from May 2015, to June 2015, and by 5.1% on a year-over-year basis from May 2015, to May 2016. Excluding distressed sales, home prices are projected to increase by 0.8% month-over-month from May 2015, to June 2015, and by 4.7% year-over-year from May 2015- to May 2016.

The CoreLogic HPI Forecast is a projection of home prices using the CoreLogic HPI and other economic variables. Values are derived from state-level forecasts by weighting indices according to the number of owner-occupied households for each state.

Be it ever so humble or not, the price of a home was up once again on both a year-over-year and month -over-month basis. CoreLogic reports its Home Price ...
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A bit of a slowdown in home price gains during April

The increases are keeping pace with consumer expectations

Home prices continued their rise across the country over the last 12 months, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices.

The National Home Price Index, covering all 9 U.S. census divisions, posted a 4.2% annual gain in April, with the 10-City Composite up 4.6% year-over-year, and the 20-City Composite rising 4.9%.

Both Composites and the National index showed slightly lower year-over-year gains compared to last month. The 10-City Composite gained 4.6% year-over-year, while the 20-City Composite gained 4.9% year-over-year.

The West leads the way

Denver and San Francisco reported the highest year-over-year gains with price increases of 10.3% and 10.0%, respectively, over the last 12 months. Dallas posted an 8.8% year-over-year gain to round out the top three cities.

Nine cities reported faster price increases in the year ended April 2015 over the year ended March 2015. Las Vegas prices rose 6.3% in the year to April versus 5.7% in the year to March.

In 11 cities, however, the rate of annual price gains slowed. Boston home prices were up 1.8% in the 12 months ending in April versus a 4.6% gain in the 12 months ending in March 2015.

“Home prices continue to rise across the country, but the pace is not accelerating,” said David M. Blitzer, managing director and chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices.

“Moreover, consumer expectations are consistent with the current pace of price increases," he pointed out. "A recent national survey published by the New York Fed showed the average expected price increase among both owners and renters is 4.1%. Both the current rate of home price increases and the consumers’ expectations are a bit lower than the long term annual price change of 4.9% since 1975.”

Month-over-month

Before seasonal adjustment, the National index increased 1.1% in April and the 10-City and 20-City Composites posted gains of 1.0% and 1.1%, respectively month-over-month. After seasonal adjustment, the National index was unchanged; the 10- and 20-city composites were up 0.3% and 0.4%.

All 20 cities reported increases in April before seasonal adjustment; after seasonal adjustment, 12 were up and 8 were down.

Home prices continued their rise across the country over the last 12 months, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices. The National Home Price...
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CoreLogic: Home prices up again in April

Price appreciation is seen continuing into next year

They did it gain.

For the 38th month in a row, home prices nationwide -- including distressed sales -- have posted a year-over-year gain.

CoreLogic reports its Home Price Index (HPI) increased by 6.8% in April 2015 from the same month in 2014. On a month-over-month basis, home prices nationwide, including distressed sales, rose 2.7% from the previous month.

Distressed sales include short sales and real estate-owned (REO) transactions.

“For the first four months of 2015, home sales were up 9% compared to the same period a year ago,” said Frank Nothaft, chief economist for CoreLogic. “One byproduct of the increased sales activity is rising house prices, and, as a result, month-over-month home prices are up almost 3% for April 2015 and up more than 6% from a year ago.”

Approaching the peak

Including distressed sales, 30 states plus the District of Columbia were at or within 10% of their peak prices in April. Eight states and D.C. reached new price peaks not experienced since January 1976 when the CoreLogic HPI started. These states include Alaska, Colorado, Nebraska, New York, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Wyoming.

Excluding distressed sales, home prices increased by 6.8% from a year earlier 2.3% month-over-month compared. Excluding distressed sales, only South Dakota (-0.3%) and Louisiana (-0.2%) showed year-over-year depreciation in April.

Report highlights

  • Including distressed sales, the 5 states with the highest home price appreciation were: South Carolina (+11.4%), Colorado (+9.7%), Washington (+9.1%), Florida (+9%) and Texas (+8.3%).
  • Excluding distressed sales, the 5 states with the highest home price appreciation were: South Carolina (+10%), Florida (+9.5%), Colorado (+9.3%), Washington (+8.7%) and Texas (+8.2%).
  • Including distressed transactions, the peak-to-current change in the national HPI (from April 2006 to April 2015) was -9%. Excluding distressed transactions, the peak-to-current change for the same period was -5.1%.
  • Including distressed sales, 4 states experienced year-over-year home price depreciation: Massachusetts (-1.7%), Louisiana (-1.5%), Connecticut (-1.1%) and Maryland (-0.7%).
  • The 5 states with the largest peak-to-current declines, including distressed transactions, were: Nevada (-33.9%), Florida (-29.3%), Rhode Island (-28.2%), Arizona (-26.2%) and Connecticut (-24.8%).
  • Of the top 100 Core Based Statistical Areas (CBSAs) measured by population, 92 showed year-over-year increases. The eight CBSAs that showed year-over-year declines were: Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, Md.; Camden, N.J.; Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, Conn.; New Orleans-Metairie, La.; Worcester, Mass.-Conn.; Albany-Schenectady-Troy, N.Y.; New Haven-Milford, Conn. and Wilmington, Del.-Md.-NJ.

Looking ahead

The CoreLogic HPI Forecast indicates that home prices -- including distressed sales -- are projected to increase by 1.1% month over month from April 2015 to May 2015 and by 5.3% on a year-over-year basis from April 2015 to April 2016.

Excluding distressed sales, home prices are projected to increase by 0.9% month over month from April 2015 to May 2015 and by 4.9% year over year from April 2015 to April 2016.

“Old fashion supply and demand, fueled by historically low mortgage rates and improving consumer finances and confidence, continue to push home prices up,” said Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic. “We expect continued price appreciation throughout 2015 and into next year. Over the longer term, household formation, up by more than one million over the past year alone, will drive down vacancy rates and create tighter housing markets in many metropolitan areas. This should provide the necessary underpinning for rising prices for the foreseeable future.”

They did it gain. For the 38th month in a row, home prices nationwide -- including distressed sales - have posted a year-over-year gain. CoreLogic report...
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A step-up in home-price gains

San Francisco and Denver lead the way

The rise in home prices continued during March on both a year-over-year and month-over-month basis

According to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, both the 10-City and 20-City Composites saw year-over-year increases. The 10-City Composite was up 4.7%, while the 20-City Composite jumped 5.0%. The National Home Price Index -- covering all 9 U.S. census divisions -- recorded a 4.1% annual gain in March versus a 4.2% increase in February.

San Francisco and Denver reported the highest year-over-year increases -- 10.3% and 10.0%, respectively, over the last 12 months. San Francisco’s annual gain is its first double-digit year-over-year increase since July 2014. Dallas reported a 9.3% year-over-year gain to round out the top 3 cities.

Ten cities reported higher price increases in the year ended March 2015 over the year ended February 2015. Tampa led the way with a reported increase of 1.4%. Ten cities also saw their prices decrease annually, led by Cleveland -- down 1.2% in the year ending March 2015.

Month-over-month

The National index increased again in March with a 0.8%. Both the 10- and 20-City Composites increased significantly, reporting month-over-month gains of 0.8% and 0.9%, respectively. Of the 19 cities reporting increases, San Francisco led an advance of 3.0%.

Seattle followed with a reported surge of 2.3%, while Cleveland was up 0.4%, its first positive month-over-month increase since last August. New York was the only city to report a decline for March -- -0.1%.

“Home prices have enjoyed year-over-year gains for 35 consecutive months,” said David M. Blitzer, Managing Director & Chairman of the Index Committee for S&P Dow Jones Indices. “The pattern of consistent gains is national and seen across all 20 cities covered by the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices. I would describe this as a rebound in home prices, not bubble and not a reason to be fearful.”

FHFA home prices

Separately, from the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), word that its House Price Index (HPI) rose 1.3% in the first quarter of 2015 -- the fifteenth consecutive quarterly price increase in the purchase-only, seasonally adjusted index.

The seasonally adjusted monthly index for March was up 0.3% from February.

"The first quarter saw strong and widespread home price growth throughout most of the country," said FHFA Principal Economist Andrew Leventis. "Home prices are now, on average, roughly 20% above where they were 3 years ago. This run-up has been historically exceptional and is particularly notable in light of the limited household income growth and modest rate of overall inflation observed during that same time period."

The seasonally adjusted, purchase-only HPI, which is calculated using home sales price information from mortgages sold to, or guaranteed by, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, rose 5.0% from the first quarter of 2014 to the first quarter of 2015, while prices of other goods and services fell 1.5%. The inflation-adjusted price of homes thus rose approximately 6.5% over the latest year.

Report highlights

  • Between the first quarter of 2014 and the first quarter of 2015, home prices rose in 48 states. The top 5 states in annual appreciation:

   1. Colorado – 11.2%

  1. Nevada – 10.1%

  2. Florida – 8.75;

  3. Washington – 7.65;

  4. California – 7.5 percent.

  • Among the 100 most populated metropolitan areas in the U.S., 4-quarter price increases were greatest in Oakland-Hayward-Berkeley, Calif., where prices increased by 13.4%. Prices were weakest in the Greensboro-High Point, N.C., where they fell 2.3%.
  • Of the 9 census divisions, the Mountain division experienced the strongest increase in the first quarter, posting a 2.6% quarterly increase and a 6.8% increase since last year. House price appreciation was weakest in the West North Central division, where prices rose 0.7%.

The complete report is available on the FHFA website.

The rise in home prices continued during March on both a year-over-year and month-over-month basis According to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, b...
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A solid gain in housing affordability

The first quarter saw more people able to buy into the American dream

It's been a good 3 months for those looking to buy a home.

According to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index (HOI), 66.5% of new and existing homes sold between the beginning of January and end of March were affordable to families earning the U.S. median income of $65,800. That's a gain of 3.7% from the final 3 months of 2014.

“Consumers benefited from continued low mortgage rates and some fall in the price of homes sold in the first quarter, as these conditions offer a great time to buy,” said NAHB Chairman Tom Woods, a home builder from Blue Springs, Mo.

The past two quarters have seen an improvement in affordability as mortgage rates remain low. “Eighty-five percent of the metropolitan areas measured experienced an increase in affordability,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “Along with favorable home prices and pent-up demand, this broad improvement should help encourage more buyers to enter the marketplace.”

Prices head lower

The national median home price -- the point at which half the prices are higher and half are lower -- fell from $215,000 in the fourth quarter to $210,000 in the first quarter. Meanwhile, average mortgage interest fell from 4.29% to 4.03% in the same period.

For the second straight quarter, Syracuse, N.Y., was the nation’s most affordable major housing market, as 95.6% of all new and existing homes sold in the first quarter of 2015 were affordable to families earning the area’s median income of $68,500.

Also ranking among the most affordable major housing markets in respective order were Toledo, Ohio; St. Louis; Akron, Ohio; and Harrisburg-Carlisle, Pa.

Meanwhile, Sandusky, Ohio, topped the affordability chart among smaller markets in the first quarter of 2015. There, 96.3% of homes sold during the first quarter were affordable to families earning the area’s median income of $69,600. Other smaller housing markets at the top of the index included Cumberland, Md.-W.Va.; Elmira, N.Y.; Davenport-Moline-Rock Island, Iowa-Ill.; and Kokomo, Ind.

Not so affordable

For a 10th consecutive quarter, San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City, Calif., was the nation’s least affordable major housing market. There, just 14.1% of homes sold in the first quarter were affordable to families earning the area’s median income of $103,400.

Other major metros at the bottom of the affordability chart were Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, Calif.; Santa Ana-Anaheim-Irvine, Calif.; New York-White Plains-Wayne, N.Y.-N.J.; and San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif.

All 5 least affordable small housing markets were in California. At the very bottom was Santa Cruz-Watsonville, where 21.6% of all new and existing homes sold were affordable to families earning the area’s median income of $87,000. Other small markets included Salinas, Napa, San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles, and Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-Goleta in descending order.

It's been a good 3 months for those looking to buy a home. According to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index (H...
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Spring home buyers face tightening market conditions

Prices are rising but the number of available homes isn't

With the economy improving and rents rising, more people may be looking to transition into home ownership this spring. But a new report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) suggests this year's housing market poses some stiff challenges.

In it's review of the first quarter of the year, NAR finds home prices have risen while the number of homes on the market has not kept pace. That means attractively priced real estate in good locations often draws multiple offers.

That said, some markets are more competitive than others. In some areas houses move quickly while in others, they linger on the market.

Median price up in 85% of markets

Still, the report shows the number of U.S. metros experiencing double-digit price appreciation doubled compared to last quarter. For existing single family homes, the median price increased in 85% of the measured markets.

The median price dipped in only 14%, or a total of 25 markets.

"Sales activity to start the year was notably higher than a year ago, as steady hiring and low interest rates encouraged more buyers to enter the market," said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. "However, stronger demand without increasing supply led to faster price growth in many markets."

The national median existing single-family home price in the first quarter was $205,200, up 7.4% from the first quarter of 2014. Still, that's not yet back to pre-housing crash levels.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the nation's median home price peaked in February 2008 at $245,300.

Sales declined

Despite the rising prices for single-family homes, the number of existing home sales actually went down in the first quarter – a quirk Yun attributes the the tighter inventory of homes for sale.

At the end of March there were 2 million existing homes available for sale in the U.S., slightly above the 1.96 million homes for sale at the end of the first quarter in 2014. But demand for homes was greater than the year before, resulting in higher sale prices.

The average supply during the first quarter was 4.6 months – down from 4.9 months a year ago. NAR says a supply of 6 to 7 months represents a healthy balance of supply between buyers and sellers.

Buyers are out there

NAR President Chris Polychron says all indicators point to renewed interest on the part of potential buyers.

"Realtors are reporting increased foot traffic this spring as more consumers are feeling confident about their financial situation and looking to lock-in before rates eventually start to climb," he said.

But he too notes that supplies of homes in many markets are tight, especially at entry level prices. Yun says one reason is because current homeowners who have accumulated equity appear reluctant to move up.

"They aren't confident they'll find another home to buy,” he said. “This trend – in addition to subpar homebuilding activity – is leading to the ongoing inventory shortages and subsequent run-up in prices seen in many markets."

With the economy improving and rents rising, more people may be looking to transition into home ownership this spring. But a new report from the National A...
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Home price increases continue

Buyer demand is on the rise

Home prices posted a year-over-year increase in March for a 37th consecutive month.

According to property information provider CoreLogic, its Home Price Index (HPI), which charts home prices nationwide -- including distressed sales -- was up 5.9% from the same period last year.

On a month-over-month basis, home prices nationwide rose 2% from February to March.

Distressed sales include short sales and real estate-owned (REO) transactions.

Twenty-seven states plus the District of Columbia were at or within 10% of their peak prices. Seven states -- including Colorado, Nebraska, New York, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Wyoming -- reached new home price highs since January 1976.

Excluding distressed sales, home prices increased by 6.1% in March 2015 compared with March 2014 and rose 2% month over month. Also excluding distressed sales, only New Mexico (-0.4%) showed year-over-year depreciation in March.

“The homes for sale inventory continues to be limited while buyer demand has picked up with low mortgage rates and improving consumer confidence,” said Frank Nothaft, chief economist for CoreLogic. “As a result, there has been continued upward pressure on prices in most markets, with our national monthly index up 2% for March 2015 and up approximately 6% from a year ago.”

Report highlights

  • Including distressed sales, the 5 states with the highest home price appreciation were: Colorado (+9.2%), South Carolina (+9.1%), Kansas (+8%), Texas (+8%) and Nevada (+7.6%).
  • Excluding distressed sales, the 5 states with the highest home price appreciation were: Kansas (+9.5%), Colorado (+8.5%), South Carolina (+8.2%), Florida (+7.9%) and Texas (+7.6%).
  • Including distressed transactions, the peak-to-current change in the national HPI (from April 2006 to March 2015) was -11%. Excluding distressed transactions, the peak-to-current change for the same period was -6.7%.
  • Including distressed sales, 2 states and the District of Columbia experienced home price depreciation at the following rates: Connecticut (-0.6%), the District of Columbia (-0.2%) and Maryland (-0.1%).
  • The 5 states with the largest peak-to-current declines, including distressed transactions, were: Nevada (-34.7%), Florida (-31.5%), Rhode Island (-29%), Arizona (-27.4%) and Connecticut (-25.5%).
  • Ninety of the top 100 Core Based Statistical Areas (CBSAs) measured by population showed year-over-year increases in March 2015. The 10 CBSAs that showed year-over-year declines were: Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD; Philadelphia, PA; Camden, NJ; Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CT; New Orleans-Metairie, LA; Rochester, NY; Worcester, MA-CT.; Albany-Schenectady-Troy, NY; New Haven-Milford, CT and Wilmington, DE-MD-NJ.

Looking ahead

The CoreLogic HPI Forecast indicates home prices -- including distressed sales -- will increase by 0.8% month-over-month from March 2015 to April 2015 and on a year-over-year basis by 5.1% from March 2015 to March 2016.

Excluding distressed sales, home prices are expected to increase by 0.7% month-over-month from March 2015 to April 2015 and by 4.7% year-over-year from March 2015 to March 2016.

“All signs are pointing toward continued price appreciation throughout 2015. In fact, the strong month-over-month gain in March may be a harbinger of accelerating price appreciation as we enter the spring selling season,” said Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic. “Tight inventories, job growth and the inexorable impact of demographics and household formation are pushing price levels in many states, and especially large metropolitan areas like Dallas, Denver, Houston, Seattle and San Francisco, toward record levels.”

Home prices posted a year-over-year increase in March for a 37th consecutive month. According to property information provider CoreLogic, its Home Price ...
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Home prices post widespread gains in February

Prices have posted year-over-year advances for 34 straight months

Home prices continued their rise across the country over the last 12 months, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices.

Both the 10-City and 20-City Composites saw larger year-over-year increases in February than were registered the month before. The 10-City Composite jumped 4.8% year-over-year, versus January's 4.3% advance, while the 20-City Composite gained was up 5.0% following a 4.5% increase in January.

The S&P/CaseShiller U.S. National Home Price Index, which covers all 9 U.S. census divisions, recorded a 4.2% annual advance in February 2015. Denver and San Francisco reported the highest year-over-year gains, as prices increased by 10.0% and 9.8%, respectively, over the last 12 months -- the first double digit increase for Denver since August 2013.

Seventeen cities reported higher year-over-year price increases in the year ended February 2015 than in the year ended January 2015, with San Francisco showing the largest acceleration. Three cities -- San Diego, Las Vegas and Portland, Ore., -- reported that the pace of annual price increases slowed.

“Home prices continue to rise and outpace both inflation and wage gains,” said David M. Blitzer, Managing Director and Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “The S&P/Case-Shiller National Index has seen 34 consecutive months with positive year-over-year gains; all 20 cities have shown year-over-year gains every month since the end of 2012.'

Month-over-month

The National Index rebounded in February, reporting a 0.1% change for the month. Both the 10- and 20-City Composites reported significant month-over-month increases of 0.5%, their largest increase since July 2014. Of the 16 cities that reported increases, San Francisco and Denver led all cities in February with gains of 2.0% and 1.4%. Cleveland reported the largest drop as prices fell 1.0%. Las Vegas and Boston reported declines of -0.3% and -0.2% respectively.

“A better sense of where home prices are can be seen by starting in January 2000 -- before the housing boom accelerated -- and looking at real or inflation adjusted numbers,” said Blitzer. “Based on the S&P/Case-Shiller National Home Price Index, prices rose 66.8% before adjusting for inflation from January 2000 to February 2015; adjusted for inflation, this is 27.9% or a 1.7% annual rate.”

Home prices continued their rise across the country over the last 12 months, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices. Both the 10-City and 20...
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It's three straight for year-over-year home price increases

The outlook for continued increases is encouraging

The comeback in home prices continues.

The CoreLogic Home Price Index (HPI) shows home prices nationwide -- including distressed sales -- rose 5.6% in February from the same period a year ago, marking 3 years of consecutive year-over-year increases in home prices nationally.

On a month-over-month basis, home prices nationwide -- distressed sales included -- were up 1.1%.

Distressed sales include short sales and real estate owned (REO) transactions.

Closing in on the peak

Including distressed sales, 26 states and the District of Columbia were at or within 10% of their peak prices. Six states -- including Colorado (+9.8%), New York (+8.2%), North Dakota (+7.7%), Texas (+8.5%), Wyoming (+8.4%) and Oklahoma (+5.2%) -- reached new home price highs since January 1976 when the CoreLogic HPI started.

Excluding distressed sales, home prices jumped 5.8% from February 2014 to February 2015 and 1.5% month-over-month from this past January. Also excluding distressed sales, all states and the District of Columbia showed year-over-year home price appreciation in February.

“Since the second half of 2014, the dwindling supply of affordable inventory has led to stabilization in home price growth with a particular uptick in low-end home price growth over the last few months,” said Dr. Frank Nothaft, chief economist for CoreLogic. “From February 2014 to February 2015, low-end home prices increased by 9.3% compared to 4.8% for high-end home prices, a gap that is 3 times the average historical difference.”

February highlights

  • Including distressed sales, the 5 states with the highest home price appreciation were: Colorado (+9.8%), South Carolina (+9.3%), Michigan (+8.5%), Texas (+8.5%) and Wyoming (+8.4%).
  • Excluding distressed sales, the 5 states with the highest home price appreciation were: South Carolina (+9.7%), New York (+9.2%), Colorado (+9%), Texas (+7.9%) and Florida (+7.8%).
  • Including distressed transactions, the peak-to-current change in the national HPI (from April 2006 to February 2015) was -12.2%. Excluding distressed transactions, the peak-to-current change for the same period was -7.8%.
  • Including distressed sales, only Connecticut at -0.9% experienced a decline in home prices.
  • The 5 states with the largest peak-to-current declines -- including distressed transactions -- were: Nevada (-35.4%), Florida (-32.4%), Rhode Island (-29.6%), Arizona (-28.4%) and Connecticut (-24.7%).
  • Including distressed sales, the U.S. has experienced 36 consecutive months of year-over-year increases.
  • Ninety-two of the top 100 Core Based Statistical Areas (CBSAs) measured by population showed year-over-year increases in January 2015. The 8 CBSAs that showed year-over-year declines were: Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, Md.; Philadelphia, Pa.; Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, Conn.; New Orleans-Metairie, La.; Rochester, N.Y.; Worcester, Mass.-Conn..; Albany-Schenectady-Troy, N.Y.; and New Haven-Milford, Conn.

“This is the hottest home price appreciation prior to the spring selling season in nine years,” said Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic. “Assuming a benign interest rate environment and continued strong consumer confidence, we expect home prices to rise by an additional five percent over the next 12 months.”

The outlook

The CoreLogic HPI Forecast indicates home prices -- including distressed sales -- are will increase by 0.6 percent% over-month from February to March. and on a year-over-year basis by 5.1% from February 2015 to February 2016.

Excluding distressed sales, home prices are expected to increase by 0.5% month over month from February to March and by 4.8% year over year.  

The comeback in home prices continues. The CoreLogic Home Price Index (HPI) shows home prices nationwide -- including distressed sales -- rose 5.6% in Fe...
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Denver, Miami and Dallas pace increase in home prices

The rate of increase, however, is slowing

Home prices continued their rise across the country over the 12 months ending in January, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices.

At the same time, though, monthly data reveal slowing increases and seasonal weakness.

Year-over-year

Both the 10-City and 20-City Composites saw year-over-year increases, with the 10-City Composite up 4.4% and the 20-City Composite gaining 4.6%. The S&P/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index, which covers all 9 U.S. census divisions, recorded a 4.5% annual gain in January.

Denver and Miami reported the highest year-over-year gains, as prices increased by 8.4% and 8.3%, respectively. Fourteen cities reported higher price increases in the year ended January 2015 over the year ended December 2014.

Chicago led the way with a reported increase of 2.5% -- up 11 basis points from December. Six cities reported declines, with San Francisco leading the declining annual returns with a reported rate of 7.9%, compared with 9.4% annually.

"The combination of low interest rates and strong consumer confidence based on solid job growth, cheap oil and low inflation continue to support further increases in home prices" says David M. Blitzer, Managing Director and Chairman of the Index Committee for S&P Dow Jones Indices. "Regional patterns in recent months continue: strength in the west and southwest paced by Denver and Dallas with results ahead of the national index in the California cities, the Pacific Northwest and Las Vegas. The northeast and Midwest are mostly weaker than the national index.”

Month-over-month

The news wasn't quite as good on a month-over-month basis. The National index declined for the fifth consecutive month in January, reporting a -0.1%. Both the 10- and 20-City Composites reported virtually flat month-over-month changes.

Of the 9 cities that reported increases, Charlotte, Miami, and San Diego led all cities in January with increases of 0.7%. San Francisco reported the largest decrease of all 20 cities -- -0.9%. Seattle and Washington, D.C., reported decreases of -0.5%. Unusually cold and wet weather may have weakened activity in some cities.

"Despite price gains, the housing market faces some difficulties”, said Blitzer. “Home prices are rising roughly twice as fast as wages, putting pressure on potential home buyers and heightening the risk that any uptick in interest rates could be a major setback.

He also pointed out that the new home sector is weak. “Residential construction is still below its pre-crisis peak,” he said. “Any time before 2008 that housing starts were as low as the current rate of one million, the economy was in a recession."

Home prices continued their rise across the country over the 12 months ending in January, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices. At the sa...
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Year-over-year and month-over-month, home prices are up again

The West leads the nation in price appreciation

For the 35th month in a row, home prices have posted a year-over-year gain

CoreLogic reports its January Home Price Index (HPI) shows that home prices nationwide increased 5.7% last month from the same period a year ago. On a month-over-month basis, home prices nationwide were up 1.1% from December 2014. Both readings include distressed sales -- short sales and real estate owned (REO) transactions.

“House price appreciation has generally been stronger in the western half of the nation and weakest in the mid-Atlantic and northeast states,” said Dr. Frank Nothaft, chief economist at CoreLogic. “In part, these trends reflect the strength of regional economies.”

Colorado and Texas have had stronger job creation and have seen 8 to 9% price gains over the past 12 months in the combined indexes. In contrast, values were flat or down in Connecticut, Delaware and Maryland in the overall index -- including distressed sales.

Including distressed sales, 27 states and the District of Columbia are at or within 10% of their peak. Four states, New York (+5.6%), Wyoming (+8.3%), Texas (+8.3%) and Colorado (+9.1%), reached new highs in the home price index since January 1976 when the index started.

Excluding distressed sales, home prices increased 5.6% from January 2015 to January 2014 and increased 1.4% month over month compared to December 2014. Also excluding distressed sales, all states and the District of Columbia showed year-over-year home price appreciation in January.

Report highlights

  • Including distressed sales, the 5 states with the highest home price appreciation were Colorado (+9.1%), Michigan (+9.0%), Texas (+8.3%), Wyoming (+8.3%) and Nevada (+7.6%).
  • Excluding distressed sales, the 5 states with the highest home price appreciation were Colorado (+8.1%), Nevada (+7.9%), Texas (+7.8%), Massachusetts (+7.7%), and Oregon (+7.4%).
  • Including distressed transactions, the peak-to-current change in the national HPI (from April 2006 to January 2015) was -12.7%. Excluding distressed transactions, the peak-to-current change in the HPI for the same period was -8.6%.
  • Including distressed sales, only Maryland and Connecticut showed losses (-0.3% and -1.9% respectively). The 5 states with the largest peak-to-current declines, including distressed transactions, were Nevada (-35.3%), Florida (-32.6%), Rhode Island (-29.9%), Arizona (-28.6%) and Connecticut (-24.8%).
  • Including distressed sales, the U.S. has experienced 35 consecutive months of year-over-year increases; however, the national increase is no longer posting double-digits.
  • Ninety-four of the top 100 Core Based Statistical Areas (CBSAs) measured by population showed year-over-year increases in January. The 6 CBSAs that showed year-over-year declines were New Orleans-Metairie, La,; Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, Conn,; Rochester, N,Y,; Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, Md.; Wilmington, Del.,-Md.,-N.J.; and Hartford-West Hartford- East Hartford, Conn.

The forecast

“We continue to see a strong and progressive uptick in home prices as we enter 2015. We project home prices will continue to rise throughout the year and into 2016,” said Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic. “A dearth of supply in many parts of the country is a big factor driving up prices. Many homeowners have taken advantage of low rates to refinance their homes, and until we see sustained increases in income levels and employment they could be hunkered down so supplies may remain tight. Demand has picked up as low mortgage rates and the cut in the FHA annual insurance premium reduce monthly payments for prospective home buyers.”

The CoreLogic HPI Forecast indicates home prices -- including distressed sales -- will increase 0.4% month-over-month from January 2015 to February 2015 and, on a year-over-year basis, by 5.3% from January 2015 to January 2016.

Excluding distressed sales, home prices are expected to increase 0.3% month-over-month from January 2015 to February 2015 and by 4.9% year-over-year from January 2015 to January 2016.  

For the 35th month in a row, home prices have posted a year-over-year gain CoreLogic reports its January Home Price Index (HPI) shows that home prices nat...
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House prices rise for the 14th straight quarter

Initial jobless claims spike above 300k

Housing prices across the nation rose on both a quarterly and monthly basis.

According to the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), the House Price Index (HPI) was up 1.4% in the fourth quarter of 2014 -- the 14th consecutive quarterly price increase. The seasonally adjusted monthly index for December was up 0.8% from November.

On a year-over-year basis, house prices jumped 4.9% from the fourth quarter of 2013 to the fourth quarter of 2014. The HPI is calculated using home sales price information from mortgages sold to, or guaranteed by, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

“Contrary to prior indications of a possible slowdown, home price appreciation in the fourth quarter was relatively strong,” said FHFA Principal Economist Andrew Leventis. “The key drivers of appreciation over the last few years -- low inventories of homes available for sa​le and improvement in labor markets -- likely played a role in driving up prices during the quarter.”

Report highlights

  • ​​Between the fourth quarter of 2013 and the fourth quarter of 2014, the seasonally adjusted, purchase-only HPI rose in 48 states and the District of Columbia. The top 5 areas in annual appreciation: 1) District of Columbia: 12.5%; 2) Nevada: 9.0%; 3) North Dakota: 8.4%; 4) Colorado: 7.9%; and 5) Michigan: 7.8%.
  • ​As measured with purchase-only indexes for the 100 most populated metropolitan areas in the U.S., fourth quarter price increases were greatest in the San Francisco-Redwood City-South San Francisco, Calif., area, where prices increased by 6.0%. Prices were weakest in the El Paso, Texas, where they fell 6.6%.
  • Of the nine census divisions, the Mountain division experienced the strongest increase in the fourth quarter, posting a 1.8% quarterly increase and a 5.5% increase since last year. House price appreciation was weakest in the New England division, where prices fell .03%.
  • The monthly seasonally adjusted, purchase-only index for the U.S. has increased for 23 of the last 24 months (November 2013 showed a decrease).

The full report is available on the FHFA website

Initial claims

Separately, the government reports first-time applications for state unemployment benefits shot up 31,000 during the week ending February 21 to a seasonally adjusted 313,000. The previous week's level was revised down by 1,000 -- from 283,000 to 282,000.

The Labor department (DOL) says there were no special factors affecting this week's initial claims

The 4-week moving average, which is not as volatile as the weekly figure and considered a more accurate gauge of the labor market, came in at 294,500, an increase of 11,500 from the previous week.

The complete report may be found on the DOL website.  

Housing prices across the nation rose on both a quarterly and monthly basis. According to the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), the House Price Inde...
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Housing affordability inches higher

Lower interest rates are a big factor

Consumers hoping to buy a home are in a better position to do so, thanks to slightly lower interest rates.

According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) /Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index (HOI), there was a slight increase in nationwide housing affordability in the fourth quarter of 2014.

In all, 62.8% of new and previously-owned homes sold between the beginning of October and end of December were affordable to families earning the U.S. median income of $63,900. That's a 1% improvement from the third quarter.

The national median home price fell from $220,800 in the third quarter to $215,000 in the final three months of the year, while, average mortgage interest rates dipped to 4.29% from 4.35% in the same period.

“Affordable home prices, historically low mortgage rates and an improving job market will release pent-up demand and help keep the housing market moving forward in the year ahead,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe.

Affordability by market

Syracuse, N.Y., claimed the title of the nation’s most affordable major housing market, as 92.8% of all new and existing homes sold in the fourth quarter of 2014 were affordable to families earning the area’s median income of $67,700.

The median is the point at which half of all incomes are higher and half are lower

Also ranking among the most affordable major housing markets in respective order were Akron, Ohio; Dayton, Ohio; Harrisburg-Carlisle, Pa.; and Scranton-Wilkes-Barre, Pa; The latter two tied for fourth place.

Meanwhile, Cumberland, Md.-W.Va. topped the affordability chart among smaller markets in the final quarter of 2014. There, 96.2% of homes sold during the fourth quarter were affordable to families earning the area’s median income of $54,100. Other smaller housing markets at the top of the index include Kokomo, Ind.; Wheeling, W.Va.-Ohio; Binghamton, N.Y.; and Salisbury, Md.

For a ninth consecutive quarter, San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City, Calif. was the nation’s least affordable major housing market. There, just 11.1% of homes sold in the fourth quarter were affordable to families earning the area’s median income of $100,400.

Other major metros at the bottom of the affordability chart were Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, Calif.; Santa Ana-Anaheim-Irvine, Calif.; San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif.; and New York-White Plains-Wayne, N.Y.

Pricey California

All 5 least affordable small housing markets were in California. At the very bottom was Napa, where 12% of all new and existing homes sold were affordable to families earning the area’s median income of $70,300.

Other small markets included Santa Cruz-Watsonville, Salinas, Santa Rosa-Petaluma, and San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles; in descending order.

Consumers hoping to buy a home are in a better position to do so, thanks to slightly lower interest rates. According to the National Association of Home B...
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A good year for home prices

Prices grew in 2014 at twice the rate of inflation

If you're a home owner, you likely saw the value of your house post a nice gain last year.

According to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, both the 10-City and 20-City Composites posted year-over-year increases in December. The 10-City Composite gained 4.3% year-over-year, up from 4.2% in November. The 20-City Composite gained 4.5% year-over-year, compared to a 4.3% increase in November.

The National Home Price Index, which covers all 9 U.S. census divisions, recorded a 4.6% annual gain in December 2014 versus 4.7% in November.

The fastest year-over-year gains were in San Francisco and Miami, where prices rose 9.3% and 8.4% respectively over the last 12 months. Twelve cities, including Cleveland, Denver, and Seattle, saw prices rise faster in the year to December than a month earlier. Las Vegas led the declining annual returns with 6.9%, down from 7.7% annually.

Month-over-month

The National index was slightly negative in December, on a month-over-month basis, while both composite Indices were positive.

Both the 10- and 20-City Composites reported inched up 0.1%, while the National Index slipped 0.1%. Miami and Denver led all cities in December with increases of 0.7% and 0.5% respectively. Chicago and Cleveland offset those gains by reporting decreases of 0.9% and 0.5% respectively.

December recorded mixed monthly figures. Nine cities recorded higher monthly figures, and 6 posted decreases. Five cities reported relatively flat monthly changes for December. Miami had the largest increase of all 20 cities -- 0.7%.

“The housing recovery is faltering,” said David M. Blitzer, Managing Director and Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “While prices and sales of existing homes are close to normal, construction and new home sales remain weak. Before the current business cycle, any time housing starts were at their current level of about one million at annual rates, the economy was in a recession.”

Blitzer notes that the softness in housing comes despite what he calls, “favorable conditions elsewhere in the economy: strong job growth, a declining unemployment rate, continued low interest rates and positive consumer confidence.”

Regional patterns

Movements in home prices show clear regional patterns. Blitzer points out that the western half of the nation plus Miami and Atlanta enjoyed year-over-year increases of 5% or more, with San Francisco and Miami the strongest. Dallas, Denver, Las Vegas and Atlanta also experienced solid gains, he added, with Phoenix an exception to the western strength with only a 2.4% increase; San Diego was a bit under 5% at 4.8%.

The Midwest and Northeast lagged. Boston was the strongest among this weak group with prices up 3.8%. The regional patterns and the weakness in new construction and new sales may reflect decreasing mobility -- fewer people moving to different parts of the country or seeking jobs in different regions.

If you're a home owner, you likely saw the value of your house post a nice gain last year. According to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, both the ...
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Another year-over-year increase for home prices

On a month-over-month basis, though, prices were lower

The CoreLogic Home Price Index (HPI) posted its 34th consecutive year-over-year gain in December.

According to the provider of property information, analytics and data-enabled services, home prices nationwide -- including distressed sales -- increased 5% in December compared from the same period the year before. Distressed sales include short sales and real estate owned (REO) transactions.

On a month-over-month basis, home prices nationwide fell by 0.1% from November.

"For the full year of 2014, home prices increased 7.4%, down from an 11.1% increase in 2013," said Sam Khater, deputy chief economist at CoreLogic. "Nationally, home price growth moderated and stabilized at 5% the last 4 months of the year.”

The moderation can be clearly seen at the state level, he pointed out, with Colorado, Texas and New York at the high end of appreciation, ending the year with increases of about 8%. This contrasts with previous appreciation rates in the double digits -- for instance, Nevada and California which experienced increases of more than 20 percent earlier in 2014.

Approaching the peaks

Twenty-seven states and the District of Columbia are at or within 10% of their peak. Three states showed year-over-year home price depreciation, including distressed sales, in December; these states were Maryland (-0.7%), Vermont (-0.9%) and Connecticut (-2.2%).

Excluding distressed sales, home prices increased 4.9% in December 2014 compared with December 2013 and increased 0.1% month-over-month versus November 2014.

Report highlights

  • Including distressed sales, the 5 states with the highest home price appreciation were: Colorado (+8.4%), Texas (+7.8%), New York (+7.6%), Nevada (+7.3%) and Michigan (+7.2%).
  • Excluding distressed sales, the 5 states with the highest home price appreciation were: New York (+8.0%), Colorado (+7.8%), Massachusetts (+7.2%), Texas (+7.1%) and Nevada (+7.1%).
  • Including distressed transactions, the peak-to-current change in the national HPI (from April 2006 to December 2014) was -13.4%. Excluding distressed transactions, the peak-to-current change in the HPI for the same period was -9.6%.
  • Including distressed sales, the 5-year HPI change (from December 2009 to December 2014) was 18.9%.
  • The 5 states with the largest peak-to-current declines, including distressed transactions, were: Nevada (-36%), Florida (-33.5%), Arizona (-29.5%), Rhode Island (-29.1%) and Connecticut (-25.2%).
  • Including distressed sales, the U.S. has experienced 34 consecutive months of year-over-year increases; however, the national increase is no longer posting double-digits.
  • Eighty-nine of the top 100 Core Based Statistical Areas (CBSAs) measured by population showed year-over-year increases in December 2014. The 11 CBSAs that showed year-over-year declines were: Worcester, MA-CT (-2.5%); Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT (-2.3%); Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD (-1.9%); Memphis, TN-MS-AR (-1.1%); McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX (-1.0%); New Haven-Milford, CT (-0.9%); Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, AR (-0.8%); Winston-Salem, NC (-0.6%); Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CT (-0.4%); Rochester, NY (-0.2%) and Wilmington, DE-MD-NJ (-0.03%).

The forecast

The CoreLogic HPI Forecast indicates home prices -- including distressed sales -- are projected to increase 0.1% month-over-month from December 2014 to January 2015. Full-year 2015 (December to December) increase is projected to be 4.8%.

Excluding distressed sales, home prices are also expected to increase by 0.1% month-over-month from December 2014 to January 2015 and increase by 4.5% year-over-year from December 2014 to December 2015.

"Nationally, home price appreciation took a pause in November and December 2014 and we expect a slow start to 2015," said Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic. "As the year progresses, we expect upward pressure as low inventories and more first-time buyers drive up home prices."

The CoreLogic Home Price Index (HPI) posted its 34th consecutive year-over-year gain in December. According to the provider of property information, analy...
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A continuing slowdown in home price gains

Analysts are not optimistic about 2015

Home prices across the country continued to rise on a year-over-year basis in November although at a slower rate, while month-over-month, there was a decline in values.

According to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, both the 10-City Composite gained 4.2% -- down 0.2% from October and the 20-City Composite was up 4.3%%, versus a 4.5% advance the month before. The National Home Price Index -- which covers all 9 U.S. census divisions -- posted a 4.7% annual gain in November 2014 compared with 4.6% in October 2014.

Miami and San Francisco continue to lead all cities, posting gains of 8.6% and 8.9% over the last 12 months. Nine cities -- including Tampa, Atlanta, Charlotte and Portland -- saw annual growth rates climb more than other cities in November; 12-month growth rates for Detroit and Miami dropped the most among all 20 cities.

Month-over-month

Both the National and Composite Indices were down marginally in November. The 10 and 20-City Composites reported declines of -0.3% and -0.2% respectively, while the National Index posted a decline of -0.1% for the month.

Tampa led all cities in November with an increase of 0.8%. Chicago and Detroit offset those gains by reporting decreases of -1.1% and -0.9% respectively.

"With the spring home buying season, and spring training, still a month or two away, the housing recovery is barely on first base," says David Blitzer, Managing Director and Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. "Prospects for a home run in 2015 aren't good. Strong price gains are limited to California, Florida, the Pacific Northwest, Denver, and Dallas. Most of the rest of the country is lagging the national index gains. Moreover, these price patterns have been in place since last spring. Existing home sales were lower in 2014 than 2013, confirming these trends.”

Home prices across the country continued to rise on a year-over-year basis in November although at a slower rate, while month-over-month, there was a decli...
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House prices up in November

Values remain below the 2007 housing boom peak

The price of homes across the U.S. rose during November.

Tthe Federal Housing Finance Agency's (FHFA) monthly House Price Index (HPI) shows prices were up 0.8% on a seasonally adjusted basis, while the previously reported 0.6% advance in October was revised downward to show a gain of 0.4%.

Regional changes

For the nine census divisions, seasonally adjusted monthly price changes from October 2014 to November 2014 ranged from -0.9% in the New England division to +1.8% in the East South Central division.

The 12-month changes were all positive, ranging from +1.6% in the New England division to +7.5% in the Pacific division.

The FHFA HPI is calculated using home sales price information from mortgages sold to or guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

From November 2013 to November 2014, house prices were up 5.3%, although the index is 4.5% below its April 2007 peak and is roughly the same as the October 2005 index level.

The complete report is available on the FHFA website.

The price of homes across the U.S. rose during November. Tthe Federal Housing Finance Agency's (FHFA) monthly House Price Index (HPI) shows prices were up...
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The year-over-year increase in home prices continues

All states saw prices head higher

Home prices nationwide, including distressed sales (short sales and real estate owned transactions), rose 5.5% in November 2014 from the same time a year ago. The increase marks 33 months of consecutive year-over-year advances in home prices nationally.

However, on a month-over-month basis, home prices nationwide inched up just 0.1% from October. And that leads CoreLogic, a property information, analytics and data-enabled services provider, to predict a month-over month decline when figures for December 2014 are released in February.

“After decelerating for most of the year, home price growth has been holding firm between a 5-and-6% growth rate for the last four months,” said Sam Khater, deputy chief economist at CoreLogic. “However, pockets of weakness are clear in Baltimore and Washington D.C., and 3 of the top 4 states with the highest price appreciation are energy intensive and had been benefiting from the energy boom which is currently receding as oil prices trend downward. These states -- Texas, Colorado and North Dakota -- may see some downward pressure on prices in 2015.”

According to CoreLogic's Home Price Index (HPI) report, all states and the District of Columbia showed year-over-year home price appreciation in November. Twenty-nine states are at or within 10% of their peak. Seven states -- Colorado, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and Wyoming -- reached new highs in the home price index.

Storm clouds?

The CoreLogic HPI Forecast indicates that home prices, including distressed sales, are projected to fall by 0.1% month over month from November 2014 to December 2014, while increasing by 4.6% on a year-over-year basis.

“The pace of home price gains have slowed as we exit 2014 but this is probably only a temporary lull,” said Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic. “While the CoreLogic HPI Forecast shows a slight dip in prices next month, we believe that prices will be up a year from now as continued economic growth fuels buyer confidence and their willingness to purchase a home and invest in their future.

November highlights

  • Including distressed sales, the 5 states with the highest home price appreciation were: Michigan (+9.0%), Colorado (+8.8%), Texas (+8.5%), North Dakota (+7.9%) and Nevada (+7.9%).
  • The peak-to-current change in the national HPI (from April 2006 to November 2014) was -12.9%.
  • The 5-year HPI change (from November 2009 to November 2014) is 18.9%.
  • The 5 states with the largest peak-to-current declines were: Nevada (-35.7%), Florida (-33.4%), Arizona (-29.3%), Rhode Island (-29.1%) and Connecticut (-23.2%).
  • The U.S. has experienced 33 consecutive months of year-over-year increases; however, the national increase is no longer posting double-digits.
  • Ninety-six of the top 100 Core Based Statistical Areas (CBSAs) measured by population showed year-over-year increases in November 2014. The four CBSAs that showed year-over-year declines were: Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, Md.; Camden, N.J.; Greensboro-High Point, N.C.; and Winston-Salem, N.C.
Home prices nationwide, including distressed sales (short sales and real estate owned transactions), rose 5.5% in November 2014 from the same time a year a...
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Home prices rise for 32nd consecutive month

CoreLogic says the pre-meltdown home-price is continuing to narrow

Home prices rose for a 32ndstraight month during October, with all 50 states showing year-over-year home price appreciation.

CoreLogic a provider of property information, analytics and data-enabled services, reports its Home Price Index (HPI) jumped 6.1% in October from the same month a year ago. On a month-over-month basis, home prices nationwide -- including distressed sales – were up 0.5%.

Twenty-seven states and the District of Columbia were at or within 10% of their home price peak in October, with the HPI reached new highs in Colorado, Louisiana, Nebraska, New York, North Dakota, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and Wyoming.

“Home price growth is moderating as we head into the late fall and is currently running at half the pace it was in the spring of 2014,” said Sam Khater, deputy chief economist at CoreLogic. “However, there are still pockets of strength, especially in several Texas markets, as well as Seattle, Denver and other markets with strong economic fundamentals.”

Excluding distressed sales, which include short sales and real estate owned (REO) transactions, home prices nationally posted a year-over-year advance of 5.6%, and month-over-month gain of 0.6%.

Also excluding distressed sales, 49 states and the District of Columbia showed year-over-year home price appreciation in October, with Mississippi the only state to experience a decline (-1.2%).

October highlights

  • Including distressed sales, the 5 states with the highest home price appreciation were: Michigan (+10.5%), South Dakota (+10.4%), Montana (+9.1%), Texas (+8.7%) and Colorado (+8.6%).
  • Excluding distressed sales, the 5 states with the highest home price appreciation were: South Dakota (+10.4%), Massachusetts (+9.7%), Maine (+8.4%), Texas (+8.1%) and Michigan (+8.0%).
  • Including distressed transactions, the peak-to-current change in the national HPI (from April 2006 to October 2014) was -12.4%. Excluding distressed transactions, the peak-to-current change in the HPI for the same period was -8.9%.
  • The 5 states with the largest peak-to-current declines, including distressed transactions, were: Nevada (-36.1%), Florida (-33.5%), Arizona (-29.0%), Rhode Island (-28.3%) and Maryland (-21.9%).
  • Including distressed sales, the U.S. has experienced 32 consecutive months of year-over-year increases; however, the national average is no longer posting double-digit increases.
  • Ninety-four of the top 100 Core Based Statistical Areas (CBSAs) measured by population showed year-over-year increases in October 2014. The six CBSAs that showed year-over-year declines were Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, Conn.; Worcester, Mass.-Conn.; Greensboro-High Point, N.C.; Rochester, N.Y.; Camden, N.J. and Winston-Salem, N.C.

The outlook

The CoreLogic HPI Forecast indicates that home prices -- including distressed sales -- are will increase 0.2% month-over-month from October 2014 to November 2014 and, on a year-over-year basis, by 5.1% from October 2014 to October 2015.

Excluding distressed sales, home prices are expected to rise 0.2% month-over-month from October 2014 to November 2014 and by 4.7% year-over-year from October 2014 to October 2015.

“The gradual recovery of the housing market continues to be propelled by improving employment, more buyer and seller confidence, continued low rates and, in certain parts of the country, investor demand. The continued actual and projected rise in home prices confirms that fact,” said Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic. “Based on our projections, home prices in over half the country will have reached or surpassed levels last seen at the height of the housing bubble sometime in mid-2015.”

Home prices rose for a 32nd straight month during October, with all 50 states showing year-over-year home price appreciation. CoreLogic a provider of prop...
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Home prices post broad-based slowdown in September

The Southeast is showing most strength as other regions struggle

Home prices were up again in September, but the rate of increase continues to decelerate.

According to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, the 10-City Composite gained 4.8% year-over-year, compared with 5.5% in August, while the 20-City Composite showed a year-over-year advance of 4.9%, versus to 5.6% the month before.

The National and Composite Indices were both slightly negative in September. Both the 10 and 20-City Composites reported a slight downturn while the National Index posted a -0.1% change for the month.

Charlotte and Miami led all cities in September with increases of 0.6%. Atlanta and Washington, D.C., offset those gains by reporting decreases of 0.3% and 0.4%, respectively.

“The overall trend in home price increases continues to slow down,” said David M. Blitzer, managing director and chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “The National Index reported a month-over-month decrease for the first time since November 2013.

“The Northeast region reported its first negative monthly returns since December 2013 and its worst annual returns since December 2012 due to weaknesses in Washington, D.C., and Boston,” He noted. “The West and Southwest, previously strong regions, are seeing price gains fade. The only region showing any sustained strength is the Southeast led by Florida; price gains are also evident in Atlanta and Charlotte.”

Continuing trend

The 10- and 20-City Composites continued their year-over-year downward trend, gaining 4.8% and 4.9% compared to last month’s year-over-year gains of 5.6%. Las Vegas, which has shown double-digit annual gains, posted an annual return of 9.1% -- its first time below 10% since October 2012.

Miami, however, continues to impress with another double-digit annual gain of 10.3%. It is the only city that currently has a year-over-year double-digit gain. Charlotte was the only city in September to show an annual increase relative to last month. Eighteen of the 20 cities reported slower annual gains compared to last month.

Other housing statistics paint a mixed to slightly positive picture. Housing starts held above 1 million at annual rates on gains in single-family homes, sales of existing-homes are gaining, builders’ sentiment is improving, foreclosures continue to be worked off and mortgage default rates are at pre-meltdown levels. “With the economy looking better than a year ago,” Blitzer concluded, “the housing outlook for 2015 is stable to slightly better.”

September recorded mixed monthly figures. Nine cities recorded lower monthly figures while 9 posted increases. Los Angeles and New York both reported flat monthly changes. Washington, D.C., had the largest decrease of all 20 cities at 0.4% month-over-month.

Home prices were up again in September, but the rate of increase continues to decelerate. According to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, the 10-Ci...
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FHFA House Price Index up again

Home prices have been on the rise for 13th consecutive quarters

It's lucky 13 for the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) House Price Index (HPI).

According to the agency, U.S. house prices were up 0.9% in the third quarter of 2014 -- the 13th straight quarterly price increase in the purchase-only, seasonally adjusted index.

The HPI is calculated using home sales price information from mortgages sold to, or guaranteed by, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Compared with last year, house prices rose 4.5% from the third quarter of 2013. FHFA’s seasonally adjusted monthly index for September was unchanged from August.

“Easing interest rates and modestly improving labor market conditions helped to drive up prices in the third quarter,” said FHFA Principal Economist Andrew Leventis. “The price increases were relatively small in most areas, however, and are consistent with the type of market deceleration that other housing market statistics have shown in recent periods.”

Report highlights

  • The seasonally adjusted, purchase-only HPI rose in 40 states during this year's third quarter. The top five states in annual appreciation: 1) Nevada 2) Hawaii 3) California 4) North Dakota 5) Florida.
  • Of the 9 census divisions, the West South Central division experienced the strongest increase in the third quarter, posting a 1.8% advance for the quarter and a gain of 5.8% since last year. House prices were weakest in the Middle Atlantic division, where prices inched up 0.1% from the prior quarter.
  • As measured with purchase-only indexes for the 100 most populated metropolitan areas in the U.S., third quarter price increases were greatest in the San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, California, Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) where prices increased by 6.6%. Prices were weakest in the Greensboro-High Point, North Carolina, MSA, where they fell 4.4%.
  • Eleven of the 20 metropolitan areas with the highest annual appreciation rates were in California.
  • The monthly seasonally adjusted purchase-only index for the U.S. showed no change between August and September. The last time prices did not change on a month-over-month basis was in November 2013.
It's lucky 13 for the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) House Price Index (HPI). According to the agency, U.S. house prices were up 0.9% in the third...
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Another year-over-year gain in house prices

But the September increase continued a slowing trend

Home prices nationwide posted a year-over-year increase of 5.6% in September 2014, making 31 months of consecutive year-over-year increases in home prices nationally. However, the rate of growth slowed from the 6.4% year-over-year rate posted in August.

On a month-over-month basis, prices dropped from August by 0.1%.

“Home prices continue to rise compared with this time last year but the rate of growth is clearly slowing as we exit 2014,” said Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic. “With more positive macro-economic trends emerging in the U.S., we are forecasting moderate price growth for 2015.”

How the states did

At the state level, all states showed year-over-year home price appreciation in September, with Michigan and Montana, showing double-digit growth. Another 28 states and the District of Columbia were at or within 10% of their home price peak.

According to CoreLogic, a property information provider, its Home Price Index (HPI) reached new highs in 5 states: Colorado, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Texas.

The CoreLogic HPI Forecast indicates that home prices will increase 0.1% month-over-month from September 2014 to October 2014 and, on a year-over-year basis, by 5% from September 2014 to September 2015.

“There has been a clear bifurcation in home price growth for lower-end versus upper-end properties in 2014,” said Sam Khater, deputy chief economist at CoreLogic. “As of December 2013, both lower-end and upper-end property prices were up 9.7% on a year over year basis. As of September, lower-end prices were up 9.4% but upper-end prices were up only 4.5%.”

September highlights

  • The 5 states with the highest home price appreciation were: Michigan (+10.3%), Montana (+10%), Maine (+9.6%), Massachusetts (+8.8%) and California (+8.5%).
  • The peak-to-current change in the national HPI (from April 2006 to September 2014) was -12.6%.
  • The 5 states with the largest peak-to-current declines were: Nevada (-36.6%), Florida (-34.1%), Arizona (-29.6%), Rhode Island (-27.9%) and Maryland (-21.2%).
  • The U.S. has experienced 31 consecutive months of year-over-year increases; however, the national average is no longer posting double-digit increases.
  • Ninety-six of the top 100 Core Based Statistical Areas (CBSAs) measured by population showed year-over-year increases in September 2014. The four CBSAs that did not show an increase were Rochester, N.Y.; Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, Ark.; New Haven-Milford, Conn. and Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, Conn.
Home prices nationwide posted a year-over-year increase of 5.6% in September 2014, making 31 months of consecutive year-over-year increases in home prices ...
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Home prices post 30th straight year-over-year gain in August

Analysts expect continued increases, but at a slower pace

Home prices -- including distressed sales -- posted a year-over-year gain of 6.4% in August.

Property information provider CoreLogic says it's the 30th month of consecutive year-over-year increases by its Home Price Index (HPI). On a month-over-month basis, home prices nationwide inched up 0.3%.

At the state level, all states showed year-over-year home price appreciation in August. In addition, the HPI reached new highs in a total of 9 states -- Alaska, Colorado, Iowa, Louisiana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas and Wyoming -- plus the District of Columbia.

Excluding distressed sales, which include short sales and real estate owned (REO) transactions, home prices nationally increased 5.9% year-over-year and 0.3% month-over-month.

"The pace of year-over-year appreciation continues to slow down as real estate markets find more balance,”said Mark Fleming, chief economist at CoreLogic. “Home price appreciation reached a peak of almost 12% year-over-year in October 2013 and has since subsided to the current pace of 6%t. Continued moderation of home price appreciation is a welcomed sign of more balanced real estate markets and less pressure on affordability for potential home buyers in the near future."

August highlights

  • Including distressed sales, the 5 states with the highest home price appreciation were: Michigan (+11.1%), California (+9.2%), Nevada (+9.2%), Maine (+9%) and West Virginia (+8.7%).
  • Excluding distressed sales, the 5 states with the highest home price appreciation were: Massachusetts (+9.4%), Maine (+9.3%), West Virginia (+8.9%), Hawaii (+8.7%) and South Carolina (+8.1%).
  • Including distressed transactions, the peak-to-current change in the national HPI (from April 2006 to August 2014) was -12.1%. Excluding distressed transactions, the peak-to-current change in the HPI for the same period was -8.6%.
  • The 5 states with the largest peak-to-current declines, including distressed transactions, were: Nevada (-36.2%), Florida (-33.4%), Arizona (-28.9%), Rhode Island (-26.8%) and Maryland (-20.2%).
  • Including distressed sales, the U.S. has experienced 30 consecutive months of year-over-year increases; however, the national average is no longer posting double-digit increases.
  • Ninety-eight of the top 100 Core Based Statistical Areas (CBSAs) measured by population showed year-over-year increases in August 2014. The two CBSAs that did not show an increase were Rochester, N.Y. and Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, Ark.

Looking ahead

The CoreLogic HPI Forecast indicates home prices -- including distressed sales -- will increase 0.2 percent% over month from August 2014 to September 2014 and, on a year-over-year basis, by 5.2%.

Excluding distressed sales, home prices are expected to rise 0.2% month over month and by 4.7% year over year.  

Home prices -- including distressed sales -- posted a year-over-year gain of 6.4% in August. Property information provider CoreLogic says it's the 30th mo...
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Home price gains slow dramatically in July

None of the cities in the Case-Shiller survey showed improvement

Home prices were higher in July, but the rate of increase slowed significantly, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices.

A leading measure of U.S. home prices, the indices show 19 of the 20 cities had lower annual returns in July with Las Vegas, Miami and San Francisco the only cities to report double-digit annual gains.

Cleveland’s rate was unchanged at +0.9% for the 12 months ending in July.

During the month, the 10-City and 20-City Composites increased 0.6% and the National Index was up 0.5%. Although all cities but one gained on a monthly basis, 17 saw smaller increases in July as compared with June. New York, which saw a lower gain, was the only city where prices rose over 1%. San Francisco posted its largest decline (-0.4%) since February 2012.

“The broad-based deceleration in home prices continued in the most recent data,” said David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “However, home prices continue to rise at two to three times the rate of inflation. The slower pace of home price appreciation is consistent with most of the other housing data on housing starts and home sales. The rise in August new home sales -- which are not covered by the S&P/Case-Shiller indices – is a welcome exception to recent trends."

Las Vegas leads the way

The 10- and 20-City Composites gained 6.7% annually with prices nationally rising at a slower pace of 5.6%. Las Vegas, one of the most depressed housing markets in the recession, is still leading the cities with 12.8% year-over-year. Phoenix, the first city to see double-digit gains back in 2012, posted its lowest annual return (+5.7%) since February 2012.

“While the year-over-year figures are trending downward,” Blitzer noted, “home prices are still rising month-to-month although at a slower rate than what we are used to seeing over the past couple of years.”

The National Index rose 0.5% -- its seventh consecutive increase. At the bottom was San Francisco with its first decline this year and the only city in the red. New York tended to under perform over the past few years but it was on top for the last two months.”

Zero improvement

While all cities continue to continue to post year-over-year gains, not one managed to show improvement. San Francisco decelerated the most from an annual return of +13.2% in June to +10.3% in July. Cleveland remained steady at +0.9% year-over-year and continued to underperform the other Metropolitan Statistical Areas by a wide margin.

San Francisco declined 0.4%, but the rest of the cities saw gains ranging from 0.1% to 1.1%. Miami was the only city to show improvement -- from +0.6% in June to +0.8% in July.

Charlotte and Cleveland remained at 0.4% and 0.5%, respectively. Dallas and Denver continue to set new peaks, while Detroit remains the only city below its January 2000 value.

Home prices were higher in July, but the rate of increase slowed significantly, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices. A leading measure o...
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Home prices inch higher in July

Prices have now risen for 8 straight month

Homes prices rose in July -- but not by much.

According to the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) monthly House Price Index (HPI), prices were up 0.1% on a seasonally adjusted basis from the previous month -- the eighth consecutive monthly house price increase.

While house prices were up 4.4% from July 2013 to July 2014, the index is 6.4% below its April 2007 peak and is roughly the same as the July 2005 index level.

The previously reported 0.4% increase in June was revised to reflect an advance of 0.3%.

The FHFA HPI is calculated using home sales price information from mortgages either sold to or guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

For the 9 census divisions, seasonally adjusted monthly price changes from June 2014 to July 2014 ranged from -0.5% in the Middle Atlantic division to +0.4% in the East North Central division.  

The 12-month changes were all positive ranging from +1.6% in the Middle Atlantic division to +7.2% in the Pacific division.

The full report is available on the FHFA website.

Homes prices rose in July -- but not by much. According to the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) monthly House Price Index (HPI), prices were up 0.1% o...
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Home prices post another year-over-year increase

They've been doing that for nearly 2.5 years

Home prices across the U.S. were up in July, marking 29 months of consecutive year-over-year increases.

CoreLogic -- a provider of property information, analytics and data-enabled services -- says its Home Price Index (HPI) report shows home prices, including distressed sales, rose 7.4% in July from the same period a year ago.

On a month-over-month basis, home prices nationwide -- including distressed sales -- increased 1.2% from June. Distressed sales include short sales and real estate owned (REO) transactions.

At the state level, only Arkansas posted a decline (0.9%) in July. A total of 11 states, plus the District of Columbia, reached new highs in the HPI dating back to January 1976 when the index started. These states are Alaska, Colorado, Iowa, Louisiana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and Vermont.

In the months ahead

The CoreLogic HPI Forecast indicates that home prices -- including distressed sales -- are projected to increase 0.6% month over month from July to August and, on a year-over-year basis, by 5.7% from July 2014 to July 2015.

“While home prices have clearly moderated nationwide since the spring, the geographic drivers of price increases are shifting,” said Sam Khater, deputy chief economist for CoreLogic. “Entering this year, price increases were led by western and southern states, but over the last few months northeastern and midwestern states are migrating to the forefront of home price rankings.”

Report highlights

  • Including distressed sales, the 5 states with the highest home price appreciation were: Michigan (+11.4%), Maine (+10.6%), Nevada (+10.6%), Hawaii (+10.5%) and California (+10.5%).
  • Excluding distressed sales, the 5 states with the highest home price appreciation were: Massachusetts (+11.2%), New York (+9.7%), Maine (+9.5%), Hawaii (+9.2%) and Florida (+8.8%).
  • Including distressed transactions, the peak-to-current change in the national HPI (from April 2006 to June 2014) was -11.9%. Excluding distressed transactions, the peak-to-current change in the HPI for the same period was -8.3%.
  • The 5 states with the largest peak-to-current declines, including distressed transactions, were: Nevada (-36.4%), Florida (-33.0%), Arizona (-28.9%), Rhode Island (-26.9%) and New Jersey (-20.6%).
  • Including distressed sales, the U.S. has experienced 29 consecutive months of year-over-year increases; however, the national average is no longer posting double-digit increases.
  • Ninety-eight of the top 100 Core Based Statistical Areas (CBSAs) measured by population showed year-over-year increases in June 2014. The two CBSAs that did not show an increase were Worcester, Mass.-Conn. and Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, Ark.
Home prices across the U.S. were up in July, marking 29 months of consecutive year-over-year increases. CoreLogic Home a provider of property information...
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Home prices rise in June, but at a slower pace

The weakening is seen across the board

Prices of homes across the U.S. rose in June but are showing what the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices calls a “sustained slowdown in price increases.”

The National Index gained 6.2% in the 12 months ending June while the 10-City and 20-City Composites gained 8.1%. However, all three indices saw their rates slow considerably from last month, and every city saw its year-over-year return worsen.

The monthly gain for the National Index was 0.9% in June, while the 10- and 20-City Composites increased 1.0%. New York led the cities with a return of 1.6% and recorded its largest increase since June 2013. Chicago, Detroit and Las Vegas followed at +1.4%, with Las Vegas posting its largest monthly gain since last summer.

“Home price gains continue to ease as they have since last fall,” said David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “For the first time since February 2008, all cities showed lower annual rates than the previous month. Other housing indicators -- starts, existing home sales and builders’ sentiment -- are positive. Taken together, these point to a more normal housing sector.”

The gains are there, but...

All 20 cities saw their year-over-year rates weaken in June. For the second consecutive month, San Francisco saw its rate decelerate by almost three percentage points. Phoenix showed its smallest year-over-year gain (6.9%) since March 2012. Cleveland showed a marginal increase of 0.8% over the last 12 months while Las Vegas led with a gain of 15.2%.

All cities reported price increases for the third consecutive month; it would have been a fourth had New York not declined 0.4% in March. San Francisco posted its eighth consecutive price increase but showed its smallest gain (0.3%) since February.

Five cities -- Detroit, Las Vegas, New York, Phoenix and San Diego -- posted larger gains in June than in May. Dallas and Denver continue to set new peaks while Detroit remains the only city below its January 2000 value.

Twelve quarters of growth

Separately, The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) reports an 0.8% increase in U.S. house prices during the second quarter of this year. It's the twelfth consecutive quarterly price increase in the House Price Index (HPI).

The FHFA HPI is calculated using home sales price information from mortgages sold to, or guaranteed by, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Year-over year prices rose were up 5.2% for the quarter. For a month-over-month comparison, FHFA’s seasonally adjusted index for June was up 0.4% from May, marking seven consecutive monthly increases.

“The extraordinary price appreciation observed over the last few spring seasons was not evident in the second quarter of this year. However, house price appreciation for the nation as a whole remained positive,” said FHFA Principal Economist Andrew Leventis. “FHFA’s data indicate that house price appreciation in the quarter was near or below the baseline rate of inflation in most states.”

Report highlights

  • The seasonally adjusted, purchase-only HPI rose in 40 states during the second quarter of 2014, compared with from 42 states and the District of Columbia during the first quarter. The top annual appreciation was in: 1) Nevada, 2) California, 3) District of Columbia, 4) North Dakota, and 5) Arizona.
  • Of the 9 census divisions, the Pacific division experienced the strongest increase in the second quarter, posting a 1.3% quarterly increase and a 9.8% increase since last year. House prices were weakest in the East South Central division, where prices fell 0.1% from the prior quarter.
  • As measured with purchase-only indexes for the 100 most populated metropolitan areas in the U.S., second quarter price increases were greatest in the Winston-Salem, N.C., Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) where prices were up 4.6%. Prices were weakest in the Birmingham-Hoover, Ala., MSA, where they fell 4.9%. Quarterly appreciation was recorded in 74 of the 100 MSAs.
  • The monthly seasonally adjusted, purchase-only index for the U.S. has increased for 7 consecutive months and 23 of the last 24 months (it fell in November 2013).
  • The Pacific and Mountain census divisions -- the 2 divisions that saw the greatest price increases last quarter -- continued to decelerate.
Prices of homes across the U.S., rose in June but are showing what the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices calls a “sustained slowdown in price increases.”...
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Home prices up again in June, but the rate of increase is moderating

It was the 28th consecutive month of year-over-year advances

Home prices across the U.S. -- including distressed sales -- were up 7.5% in June from the same month a year ago, according to the CoreLogic Home Price Index (HPI) report.

June marks 28 months of consecutive year-over-year increases in home prices nationally.

On a month-over-month basis, home prices nationwide -- including distressed sales -- inched up just 1.0% from May. Distressed sales include short sales and real estate owned (REO) transactions.

“Home price appreciation continued moderating in June with its slight month-over-month increase,” said Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic. “This reversion to normality that we are finally experiencing is expected to continue across the country and should further alleviate concern over diminishing affordability and the risk of another asset bubble.”

At the state level, including distressed sales, only Arkansas posted a decline (-0.4%) in June. A total of 12 states -- Alaska, Colorado, District of Columbia, Iowa, Louisiana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont and Wyoming -- plus the District of Columbia, reached new highs in the HPI dating back to January 1976 when the index started.

June highlights

  • Including distressed sales, the 5 states with the highest home price appreciation were: Michigan (+11.5%), California (+11.3%), Nevada (+11.1%), Hawaii (+10.8%) and Oregon (+9.5%).
  • Excluding distressed sales, the 5 states with the highest home price appreciation were: Massachusetts (+11.2%), New York (+9.8%), Hawaii (+9.2%), California (+9.1%) and Oregon (+8.8%).
  • Including distressed transactions, the peak-to-current change in the national HPI (from April 2006 to June 2014) was -12.9%. Excluding distressed transactions, the peak-to-current change in the HPI for the same period was -9.0%.
  • Including distressed sales, the U.S. has experienced 28 consecutive months of year-over-year increases; however, the national average is no longer posting double-digit increases.
  • The 5 states with the largest peak-to-current declines, including distressed transactions, were: Nevada (-37.3%), Florida (-34.1%), Arizona (-29.5%), Rhode Island (-27.2%) and New Jersey (-22.2%).
  • Ninety-eight of the top 100 Core Based Statistical Areas (CBSAs) measured by population showed year-over-year increases in June. The two that did not were Worcester, Mass.-Conn., and Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, Ark.
Home prices across the U.S. -- including distressed sales -- were up 7.5% in June from the same month a year ago, according to the CoreLogic Home Price In...
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Home prices rise in May -- but at a slower pace

The gains in value were across the board

Home prices across the nation continued to increase during May, but the rate was a bit slower than during the previous month.

According to the the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, the 10-City Composite gained 9.4% year-over-year, while the 20-City was up 9.3% -- down significantly from the +10.9% and +10.8% returns reported in April. All cities with the exception of Charlotte and Tampa saw their annual rates decelerate.

During May, the 10- and 20-City Composites posted gains of 1.1% over April, with all 20 cities posting gains for the second straight month. Charlotte posted its highest monthly increase -- 1.4% -- in over a year. Tampa gained 1.8%, followed by San Francisco at +1.6% and Chicago at +1.5%.

Phoenix and San Diego were the only cities to gain less than one percent with increases of 0.4% and 0.5%, respectively.

The rate of increase slows

“Home prices rose at their slowest pace since February of last year,” said David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “The 10- and 20-City Composites posted just over 9%, well below expectations. Month-to-month, all cities are posting gains before seasonal adjustment; after seasonal adjustment 14 of 20 were lower.

Year-over-year, 9 cities -- Las Vegas (16.9%), San Francisco (15.4%), Miami (13.2%), San Diego (12.4%), Los Angeles (12.3%), Detroit (11.9%), Atlanta (11.2%), Tampa (10.2%) and Portland (10.0%) -- posted double-digit increases in May 2014.

The Sun Belt continues to lead with 7 of the top 8t performing cities. Eighteen of 20 cities had lower year-over-year numbers than last month; San Francisco and San Diego saw their year-over-year figures decelerate by about 3 percentage points.

While all cities continue to post year-over-year increases, gains weakened in May. Charlotte was the only Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) to see its annual rate improve; it posted 4.7% year-over-year in May versus 4.5% in April.

Tampa held steady with a gain of 10.2%. Despite seeing their rates decrease by 2 to 3 percentage points, Las Vegas remained the top performing city with a return of +16.9%, followed by San Francisco at +15.4%.

All cities reported increases month-over-month with 9 cities -- Charlotte, Cleveland, Detroit, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, New York and Tampa -- showing larger increases in May than in April. Charlotte posted its largest monthly gain since April 2013 while Minneapolis, New York and Tampa showed their highest since August 2013.

New York showed the most improvement with a gain of 1.0% in May versus 0.1% in April. Boston posted +1.1% in May, down from +2.9% in April. Dallas and Denver continue to set new peaks while Detroit remains the only city below its January 2000 value.  

Home prices across the nation continued to increase during May, but the rate was a bit slower than during the previous month. According to the its S&P/Cas...
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Home prices edge higher in May

It's the second straight increase thanks to a revision of the April report

Prices of houses in the U.S. rose 0.4% in May, according to figures from the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA).

At the same time, the agency said prices the month before actually rose -- a miniscule 0.1% -- revising an earlier report that there was no change.

From May 2013 to May 2014, house prices jumped 5.5%, but remain 6.5% below their April 2007 peak and are roughly the same as they were in July 2005.

The FHFA calculates its House Price Index (HPI) using home sales price information from mortgages either sold to or guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

A mixed performance

For the nine census divisions, seasonally adjusted monthly price changes from April 2014 to May 2014 ranged from -0.7% in the East South Central division to +1.1% in the West South Central division.

However, the 12-month changes were all positive ranging from +2.5% in the Middle Atlantic division to +9.6% in the Pacific division.

The complete home price report is available on the FHFA website  

Prices of houses in the U.S. rose 0.4% in May, according to figures from the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA). At the same time, the agency said pr...
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Home prices post yet another annual gain

Increases, though, are showing a cooling trend

Home prices across the country -- including distressed sales -- rose 8.8% in during the year ended May 2014, according to CoreLogic’s Home Price Index (HPI), marking 27 straight months of  year-over-year increases.

On a month-over-month basis, prices inched up 1.4%.

No states saw prices fall, and 25 states and the District of Columbia were at or within 10% of their peak home price appreciation. Additionally, 10 states   -- Alaska, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota, North Dakota, Colorado, Texas and New York -- reached new home prices highs.

The strongest year-over-year appreciation is in the Western U.S., led by Hawaii, California and Nevada.

Excluding distressed sales, which include short sales and real estate owned (REO) transactions, home prices nationally increased 8.1% year-over-year in May and 1.2% month over month. Also excluding distressed sales, all 50 states and the District of Columbia showed year-over-year home price appreciation in May.

Report highlights

  • Including distressed sales, the 5 states with the highest home price appreciation were: Hawaii (+13.2%), California (+13.1%), Nevada (+12.6%), Michigan (+11.8%) and New York (+11.0%).

  • Excluding distressed sales, the 5 states with the highest home price appreciation were: New York (+12.2%), Hawaii (+11.6%), Nevada (+10.6%), California (+10.4%) and Florida (+9.6%).

  • Including distressed transactions, the peak-to-current change in the national HPI (from April 2006 to May 2014) was -13.5%. Excluding distressed transactions, the peak-to-current change in the HPI for the same period was -9.3%.

  • Including distressed sales, the U.S. has experienced 27 consecutive months of year-over-year increases; however, the national average is no longer posting double-digit increases.

  • The 5 states with the largest peak-to-current declines, including distressed transactions, were: Nevada (-38.1%), Florida (-34.3%), Arizona (-29.2%), Rhode Island (-28.7%) and New Jersey (-23.0 %).

  • Ninety-four of the top 100 Core Based Statistical Areas (CBSAs) measured by population showed year-over-year increases in May 2014. The 6 CBSAs that did not show an increase were: Worcester, Mass.-Conn.; Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, Conn.; New Haven-Milford, Conn.; Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, Ark.; Rochester, N.Y. and Winston-Salem, N.C.

Looking ahead

The CoreLogic HPI Forecast indicates that home prices -- including distressed sales -- are projected to increase 0.8% month-over-month from May to June 2014 and, on a year-over-year basis by 6.0% from May 2014 to May 2015.

Excluding distressed sales, home prices are expected to rise 0.7% month-over-month from May 2014 to June 2014 and by 5.1% year-over-year from May 2014 to May 2015.

“The pace of home price appreciation is cooling off quickly as the weather warms up,” said Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic. “May's 8.8% year-over-year growth rate is down almost three percentage points from just three months ago. The influences of modestly rising inventory and less-than-expected demand are causing price growth to moderate toward our forecasted expectations.”

Home prices across the country -- including distressed sales -- rose 8.8% in during the year ended May 2014, according to CoreLogic’s Home Price Index (HPI...
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Home prices rose in April, but annual gains were sharply slower

Obstacles remain, including concerns about rising interest rates

U.S. home prices were higher again in April, but the year-to-year gains were sharply lower.

Data released by S&P Dow Jones Indices for its S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices show the 10-City and 20-City Composites posted annual gains of 10.8% --- a much slower rate when compared with the previous month.

Nineteen of the 20 cities saw lower annual gains in April than in March.

California (Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco) saw their returns worsen by approximately 3 percentage points. Boston was the only city to see its annual rate improve.

The 10-City and 20-City Composites increased 1.0% and 1.1% in April. Seven cities -- Cleveland, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Phoenix, San Diego and San Francisco -- reported lower returns than in March. Boston rose 2.9% -- its largest monthly gain in over its 27 years of history. San Francisco rose 2.3% -- its sixth consecutive price increase.

The move upward continues

“Although home prices rose in April, the annual gains weakened,” says David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “Overall, prices are rising month-to-month but at a slower rate. Last year some Sunbelt cities were seeing year-over-year numbers close to 30%, now all are below 20%: Las Vegas (18.8%), Los Angeles (14.0%), Phoenix (9.8%), San Diego (15.3%) and San Francisco (18.2%). Other cities around the nation are also experiencing slower price increases.”

While the annual numbers worsened, the monthly figures were seasonally strong. Five cities -- Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco and Seattle -- reported monthly gains of 2% or more. Dallas and Denver gained 1.6% and continue to set new peaks. Boston and Charlotte are less than 10% away from their peaks.

“Near term economic factors favor further gains in housing: mortgage rates are lower than a year ago, the Fed is expected to keep interest rates steady until mid-2015 and the labor market is improving,” Blitzer added. "However, housing is not back to normal: prices are being supported by cash sales, low inventories and declining foreclosure and REO sales. First time home buyers are not back in force and qualifying for a mortgage remains challenging. The question is whether housing will bounce back before the Fed begins to tighten sometime next year.”

Positive annual gains

All cities continue to post positive year-over-year returns. Boston was the only city to show improvement in its annual rate, going from 8.3% in March to 9.0% in April. After posting 13 months of annual gains of over 20%, San Francisco saw its rate dip below 20%. 

In April, all cities saw prices increase, with 12 cities reporting higher returns than last month.

Boston gained the most with an increase of 2.9%, its highest month-over-month gain. San Francisco and Seattle trailed at +2.3%.

At the bottom of the list, New York gained only 0.1%. Dallas and Denver continue to set new peaks while Detroit remains the only city below its January 2000 value.

FHFA price report

​Separately, however, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) says its monthly House Price Index (HPI) showed no change in U.S. house prices from March to April.

The FHFA HPI is calculated using home sales price information from mortgages either sold to or guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

From April 2013 to April 2014, house prices were up 5.9%. Still, the index is 6.9% below its April 2007 peak and is roughly the same as the July 2005 index level.

For the nine census divisions, seasonally adjusted monthly price changes from March 2014 to April 2014 ranged from -1.3% in the New England division to +0.6% in the East South Central division.

The 12-month changes were all positive ranging from +1.7% in the Middle Atlantic division to +10.7% in the Pacific division.

The full report is available on the FHFA website.

U.S. home prices were higher again in April, but the year-to-year gains were sharply lower. Data released by S&P Dow Jones Indices for its S&P/Case-Shille...
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Home prices surge 10.5% year-over-year in April

However, CoreLogic expects a slowdown in the growth rate in the year ahead

Home values continued their year-over-year increase during April, but the rate of growth likely wont be sustained in the coming 12 months.

According to global property information, analytics and data-enabled services provider CoreLogic, home prices nationwide -- including distressed sales -- rose 10.5% in April from the same time a year ago. That marks 26 consecutive months of year-over-year increases in home prices nationally.

On a month-over-month basis, CoreLogic's Home Price Index (HPI) shows home prices nationwide -- including distressed sales -- increased 2.1 percent in April from the previous month.

“The weakness in home sales that began a few months ago is clearly signaling a slowdown in price appreciation,” said Sam Khater, deputy chief economist for CoreLogic. “The 10.5% increase in April, compared to a year earlier, was the slowest rate of appreciation in 14 months.”

No price drops

At the state level -- including distressed sales -- no states posted depreciation in April. Additionally, Colorado, Louisiana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas and Wyoming all surpassed their previous home price peaks. In all, 23 states and the District of Columbia are at or within 10% of their peak home price appreciation.

Excluding distressed sales, home prices nationally posted a year-over-year increase of 8.3% in April, and were up 1.1% month over month. Distressed sales include short sales and real estate owned (REO) transactions.

Looking ahead

The CoreLogic HPI Forecast indicates home prices -- including distressed sales – will rise 1.0% month-over-month from April 2014 to May 2014, and by 6.3% from April 2014 to April 2015.

Excluding distressed sales, home prices are expected to rise 0.8% month-over-month from 1.0% month-over-month from April 2014 to May 2014, and by 6.3% from April 2014 to April 2015.

“Home prices are continuing to rise as we head into the summer months,” said Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic. “The purchase market continues to suffer from a dearth of inventory which we expect will continue to drive prices up over the year.”

Home values continued their year-over-year increase during April, but the rate of growth likely wont be sustained in the coming 12 months. According to gl...
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Home prices on the rise in March

However, the rate of increase is slowing

March was another good month for homeowners looking for the prices of their houses to rise in value.

Data by S&P Dow Jones Indices for its S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices show the 10-City and 20-City Composite Indices were up 0.8% and 0.9%, respectively, from February.

During the first three months of the year, the National Index gained 0.2%. Nineteen of the 20 cities showed positive returns in March, with New York was the only one to decline. Dallas and Denver reached new index peaks.

Significant slowdown

The National and Composite Indices saw their annual rates of gain slow significantly in March. Chicago showed its highest year-over-year return -- 11.5% - since December 1988. Las Vegas and San Francisco, the cities with the highest returns, saw their rates of gain slow to approximately 21%; their post-meltdown peak returns were 29.2% and 25.7%. At the lower end was Cleveland with a gain of 3.9% in the 12 months ending March 2014.

“The year-over-year changes suggest that prices are rising more slowly,” said David M. Blitzer, chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “Annual price increases for the 2 Composites have slowed in the last 4 months and 13 cities saw annual price changes moderate in March.”

The National Index also showed decelerating gains in the last quarter. Among those markets seeing substantial slowdowns in price gains were some of the leading boom-bust markets including Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Francisco and Tampa.

Despite signs of decelerating prices, all cities were higher than a year ago, and all but New York were higher in March than in February. However, only Denver and Dallas have set new post-meltdown highs and they experienced relatively lower peak levels than other cities. Four locations are fairly close to their previous highs: Boston (8%), Charlotte (9%), Portland (13%) and San Francisco (15%).

Positive returns

All 20 cities continued to record positive year-over-year returns. Thirteen of the 20 MSAs showed lower annual increases in March. Tampa showed the most deceleration, posting +13.4% year-over-year in February and +10.7% in March. Las Vegas and San Francisco, the only two cities to post annual gains of over 20%, also saw their rates decelerate; they gained 21.2% and 20.9%, respectively.

The only six cities to show higher year-over-year returns in March were Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Miami, Minneapolis and New York.

Quarterly price hikes

A separate measure of home prices -- the Federal Housing Finance Agency's (FHFA) House Price Index (HPI) -- found that prices rose 1.3% in the first quarter of the year, the eleventh consecutive quarterly price increase in the purchase-only, seasonally adjusted index.

"Although the first quarter saw relatively weak real estate transaction activity -- in part due to seasonal factors -- home prices continued to push higher in the first quarter," said FHFA Principal Economist Andrew Leventis. "Modest inventories of homes available for sale likely played a significant role in driving the price increase, which was similar to appreciation in the preceding quarter."

As a way of comparison, house prices rose 6.6% from the first quarter of 2013. FHFA's seasonally adjusted monthly index for March was up 0.7 percent from February.

Other findings

  • The seasonally adjusted, purchase-only HPI rose in 42 states and the District of Columbia during the first quarter of 2014 (four more than in the fourth quarter of 2013). The top annual appreciation came in: 1) Nevada, 2) District of Columbia, 3) California, 4) Arizona, and 5) Florida.
  • Of the nine census divisions, the Pacific division experienced the strongest increase in the first quarter -- a 2.1% increase and a 13.2% increase since last year. House prices were weakest in the Middle Atlantic division, where prices inched up 0.1% percent from the prior quarter.
  • As measured with purchase-only indexes for the 100 most populated metropolitan areas in the U.S., first quarter price increases were greatest in the Charleston-North Charleston, S.C., Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) where prices increased by 10.7%. Prices were weakest in the New Orleans-Metairie, La., MSA, where they fell 2.6%. Appreciation was recorded in 71 of the 100 MSAs.
  • The monthly seasonally adjusted purchase-only index for the U.S. has increased for 23 of the last 24 months (November 2013 showed a decrease).
  • The Pacific and Mountain census divisions -- the two divisions that saw the greatest price increases between March 2012 and March 2013 -- saw substantive decelerations over the latest 12 months. Price appreciation was 12.4% between March 2013 and March 2014 in the Pacific Division, more than three percentage points below the rate for the preceding 12 months. At 9.8%, the last 12-month appreciation in the Mountain division was more than four percentage points below the rate in the preceding 12 months.
March was another good month for homeowners looking for the prices of their houses to rise in value. Data by S&P Dow Jones Indices for its S&P/Case-Shille...
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March marks another year of rising home prices

And the latest CoreLogic forecast sees the 25-month trend continuing

There doesn't seem to be any end in sight to the year-over-year string of rising home prices.

Property information provider CoreLogic says its March Home Price Index (HPI) shows that home prices nationwide -- including distressed sales (short sales and real estate owned (REO) transactions) -- increased 11.1% in March from the same month a year ago. That makes 25 months of consecutive year-over-year increases in home prices nationally.

On a month-over-month basis, home prices nationwide were up 1.4%.

At the state level, only Arkansas (-0.3%) showed a decline. Additionally, Colorado, the District of Columbia, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas and Wyoming all surpassed their previous home price peaks in March 2014. In all, 23 states and the District of Columbia are at or within 10% of their peak home price appreciation.

When distressed sales are excluded, home prices nationally shot up 9.5% from March 2013 and 0.9% from the month before.

Credit and inventories cited

“March data on new and existing home sales was weaker than expected and is a cause for concern as we enter the spring buying season,” said Dr. Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic.

“Interest rate-disenfranchised potential sellers are adding to the existing shadow inventory,” he noted, adding, “while buyers who can't find what they want to buy are on the sidelines creating a new kind of 'shadow demand.' This supply and demand imbalance continues to drive home prices higher, even though transaction volumes are lower than expected.”

Report highlights

The March HPI report also shows:

  • Including distressed sales, the five states with the highest home price appreciation were California (+17.2%), Nevada (+15.5%), Georgia (+12.4%), Hawaii (+12.3%) and Oregon (+12.2%).
  • Excluding distressed sales, the five states with the highest home price appreciation were California (+13.2%), Nevada (+11.8%), Florida (+10.9%), Maine (+10.6%) and Hawaii (+10.6%).
  • Including distressed sales, the United States has experienced 13 consecutive months of year-over-year, double-digit growth.
  • Ninety-eight of the top 100 Core Based Statistical Areas (CBSAs) measured by population showed year-over-year increases in March. The two CBSAs that did not show an increase were Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, Ark., and Rochester, N.Y.

What's in store

The CoreLogic HPI Forecast indicates that home prices -- including distressed sales -- are projected to increase 0.8% month over month from March 2014 to April 2014 and by 6.7% from March 2014 to March 2015.

Excluding distressed sales, home prices are expected to rise 0.6% month over month from March 2014 to April 2014 and by 5.7% year over year from March 2014 to March 2015.

There doesn't seem to be any end in sight to the year-over-year string of rising home prices. Property information provider CoreLogic says its March Home ...
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Home prices show little change in February

Values rose on an annual basis, but at a slower rate

Home prices were steady from January to February, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices.

The leading measure of U.S. home prices shows both the 10-City and 20-City Composites were relatively unchanged month-over-month, with 13 of the 20 cities declining in February.

Cleveland had the largest decline -- 1.6% -- followed by Chicago and Minneapolis at -0.9%. Las Vegas posted -0.1%, marking its first decline in almost two years. Tampa showed its largest decline -- 0.7% -- since January 2012.

Annual rates

Meanwhile, the annual rates of gain slowed for both Composites in the 12 months ending February 2014, with the 10-City Composite up 13.1% and 20-City Composite showing a gain of 12.9%.

Thirteen cities saw lower annual rates in February. Las Vegas -- the leader -- posted 23.1% year-over-year versus 24.9% in January. The only city in the Sun Belt that saw improvement in its year-over-year return was San Diego with an increase of 19.9%.

A huge cool-down

“Prices remained steady from January to February for the two Composite indices,” said David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “The annual rates cooled the most we’ve seen in some time. The three California cities and Las Vegas have the strongest increases over the last 12 months as the West continues to lead. Denver and Dallas remain the only cities which have reached new post-crisis price peaks.

“The Northeast with New York, Washington and Boston are seeing some of the slowest year-over-year gains,” he continued. “However, even there prices are above their levels of early 2013. On a month-to-month basis, there is clear weakness. Seasonally adjusted data show prices rose in 19 cities, but a majority at a slower pace than in January.”

Rising prices, weaker stats

Despite continued price gains, most other housing statistics are weak. Blitzer notes that sales of both new and existing homes are flat to down. The recovery in housing starts, now less than one million units at annual rates, is faltering.

“Moreover,” he points out, “home prices nationally have not made it back to 2005. Mortgage interest rates, which jumped in May last year and are steady since then, are blamed by some analysts for the weakness. Others cite difficulties in qualifying for loans and concerns about consumer confidence. The result is less demand and fewer homes being built.”

Little improvement

Only 5 cities saw their annual rates improve in February. After posting annual gains of over 20% for their 12th consecutive month, Las Vegas and San Francisco both showed deceleration in their annual rates. San Diego narrowed the gap with a return of 19.9%. Washington, D.C., recorded its 8th consecutive improvement with an annual rate of 9.1% -- its highest since May 2006.

Thirteen cities declined in February. Cleveland and Tampa showed their largest declines -- 1.6% and 0.7% respectively -- since January 2012. Seattle improved from a decline of 0.8% in January to an increase of 0.6% in February.

Denver posted a small decline and is less than 1% away from its peak set in September 2013. Dallas increased 0.2% and continues to reach new index highs. Detroit remains the only city below its January 2000 level.  

Home prices were steady from January to February, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices. The leading measure of U.S. home prices shows both...
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Home prices inched higher in February

The increase is the third in as many months

The prices of houses in the U.S. rebounded in February from January's decline.

Data released by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) show its monthly House Price Index (HPI) was up 0.6 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis – the third straight increase.

Despite a harsh winter, the seasonally adjusted purchase-only index has shown increases for the last three months. The 0.5% increase reported for January revised downward slightly to show a gain of 0.4%.

A decline of 0.1% last November ended a 21-month stretch of increases that had begun in February 2012.

The HPI is calculated using home sales price information from mortgages either sold to or guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Strong year-over-year gain

From February 2013 to February 2014, house prices were up 6.9 percent. Nonetheless, the index is 7.6% below its April 2007 peak and is roughly the same as the June 2005 level.

For the nine census divisions, seasonally adjusted monthly price changes from January to February ranged from -2.5% in the New England division to +1.7% in the South Atlantic division. The 12-month changes were all positive ranging from +0.6% in the New England division to +14.3% in the Pacific division.

The complete HPI report is available on the FHFA website.

The prices of houses in the U.S. rebounded in February from January's decline. Data released by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) show its monthly...
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Selling your home? It's all in the staging

A lot of show biz goes into selling a house

It's true the housing market is recovering, but in many areas of the country you still have to compete to attract buyers. And that's just half the battle.

Once you get someone interested in your house, you next need to encourage the highest possible offer. Properly staging your home will help achieve both goals.

Simply put, staging your home means showing it in the best possible light. Remember that the purchase of a home is largely driven by emotion. Staging is a way to push the right emotional buttons.

Starts online

Sterling Home Styling, a company that trains Realtors in how to stage a piece of property, says it starts with how the property is presented online. These days, most prospective buyers decide to see a house after looking at its online listing on Zillow, Trulia or any of the other real estate listing sites.

The listing should provide not just location, features and price but a number of compelling, attractive images. According to Sterling, over 55% of the impression that a home makes on a buyer is the visual effect.

Despite the strong sales of distressed properties that need extensive renovation, the average buyer isn't looking for a “project.” They're looking for what amounts to a turn-key situation – a home Realtors refer to as “in move-in condition.”

The people who buy foreclosures don't mind putting in time and money to fix them up because they are getting a much lower than market price. If you want the best price possible, it is important to attract buyers willing to pay for a home in move-in condition.

Choose pictures carefully

Photographs should not only show your home in the best possible light they should also strike an emotional chord with the target market. Bedrooms look pretty much alike. Try to find something about the home that will draw the home shopper in.

We recently found a home listing for an older home in Richmond, Va. Along with the properties other features, like spacious entryway and updated kitchen, the agent thoughtfully include a photograph showing an old fashioned built-in telephone stand in the hallway, along with an old fashioned telephone.

Many shoppers like older homes because they perhaps remind them of where they grew up, or the house their grandparents lived in. Touching base with that emotional impulse can produce a strong response before the buyer ever sets foot on the property.

Once you have attracted an online shopper's attention, you must then draw them in once they arrive at the property. That means first having what Realtors call “curb appeal.” When the prospective buyers pull up in front, they should be able to imagine themselves living there.

Inviting entryway

A lot goes into curb appeal – a clean, well-kept exterior, nice landscaping and an inviting entryway. The experts at Better Homes and Gardens recommend brightening the front door with a blast of color. In addition, new or polished brass fixtures and hardware can make a home more inviting.

Inside, most home stagers suggest getting rid of the clutter. Especially focus on gathering up personal items – like pictures of the kids – and putting them out of sight.

The idea is for the prospective buyer to imagine this is their house. That's hard to do when your wedding pictures or drawings by your eight year old are everywhere.

Calling in a professional

There are professional home stagers you can hire who will stage your home for you. They can cost $100 an hour or more but, depending on how much you are trying to get for your home and how quickly you need to sell, it might be worth it.

The Real Estate Staging Association, the trade association for home stagers, did a study in 2012 of homes that were staged and those that weren't.

It says the unstaged homes were still on the market 166 days later. After they were staged, the first of the newly-staged homes received an offer within 32 days.

It's true the housing market is recovering, but in many areas of the country you still have to compete to attract buyers. And that's just half the battle....
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This might be a good time to sell your home

There should be a lot less competition from foreclosures

With the arrival of spring homeowners eager to sell may be looking for signs that this is the year they can make a profitable deal. More homeowners who have been “underwater” since the housing crash are finally seeing some positive equity.

But home sales slowed over the winter. Will spring be any different?

Every real estate market is unique, of course, but there are some national trends that may bode well for sellers. A significant drop in foreclosures mean there are fewer low-priced “distressed” properties providing competition.

Big drop in foreclosures

The latest evidence comes from CoreLogic, a property data service, in its February National Foreclosure Report. It shows there were 43,000 completed foreclosures in the U.S. that month, down from about 51,000 from February 2013.

The month-to-month decline, from January to February, was also encouraging. Completed foreclosures were down about 13%.

What may be even more hopeful is what CoreLogic identifies as a reduction in “shadow inventory” of foreclosures. Shadow inventory refers to property that is in some stage of default – but has not reached the stage where the lender has seized the home.

That's different from completed foreclosures, which are seized properties that have either been auctioned off or placed on the market for sale. Since the financial crisis began in September 2008, there have been approximately 4.9 million completed foreclosures.

Shadow inventory down

When it comes to shadow inventory, 752,000 homes fell into that category in February. That's still a lot but significantly fewer than the 1.2 million homes making up the shadow inventory in February 2013. All in all, pretty positive news for sellers.

“The stock of seriously delinquent homes and the foreclosure rate are back to levels last seen in the final quarter of 2008,” said Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic. “The shadow inventory has also declined year over year for the past 3 years as the housing market continues to heal, including double-digit declines for the past 16 consecutive months.”

Sales still weak

However well that might bode for the future, it has yet to translate into stronger home sales. In late March the National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported February's pending home sales – home contracts signed but not yet executed – fell for an eighth straight month, continuing a sluggish period in the housing recovery.

But Lawrence Yun, NAR's chief economist, sees some market stability in the numbers, especially over the last three months.

“Buyer traffic information from our monthly Realtor survey shows a modest turnaround, and some weather delayed transactions should close in the spring,” he said.

So, while chances appear to be improving that you can sell your home in a timely manner, it will be important to keep price expectations reasonable. A report by Clear Capital found that during February, nationwide home prices gained ground, but at a much slower pace.

The survey found the average home's price increased 1%, down from 2.5% a year earlier. According to the company, 2014 is only expected to see 3%-5% growth in prices.

With the arrival of spring homeowners eager to sell may be looking for signs that this is the year they can make a profitable deal. More homeowners who hav...
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Home prices post sizable year-over-year increase in February

CoreLogic says there may be more of the same in store

February was a good month to be a homeowner.

Property information and analytics provider CoreLogic reports home prices nationwide -- including distressed sales -- rose 12.2% in February from the same time a year earlier.

This change in the CoreLogic Home Price Index (HPI) represents 24 months of consecutive year-over-year increase. On a month-over-month basis, prices inched ahead 0.8%.

At the state level 14 states enjoyed double-digit year-over-year growth in February, with Colorado, Nebraska, North Dakota, Texas and the District of Columbia reaching new home price highs. In addition, 22 states were at or within 10% of their price peaks.

“February marks two straight years of year-over-year gains in national prices across the United States,” said Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic. “The consistent upward movement in home prices should ultimately prove to be an important stimulant for higher levels of sustained market activity and growth in the housing economy.”

Report highlights

The February report also showed:

  • Including distressed sales, the five states with the highest home price appreciation were California (+19.8%), Nevada (+18.5%), Georgia (+14.2%), Oregon (+13.8%) and Michigan (+13.5%).
  • Excluding distressed sales, the five states with the highest home price appreciation were California (+15.9%), Nevada (+14.6%), Florida (+13.1%), Washington (+11.5%) and Hawaii (+11.5$).
  • Including or excluding distressed sales, no state posted home price depreciation in February 2014.
  • Ninety-six of the top 100 Core Based Statistical Areas (CBSAs) measured by population showed year-over-year increases in February 2014. The four CBSAs that did not show an increase were Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, Ark., Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, Wis., Rochester, N.Y. and Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, Va.-N.C.

Looking ahead

Including distressed sales, CoreLogic projects prices to increase 0.5% in March, and that prices -- including distressed sales, will show a year-over-year increase of 10.5%. Excluding distressed sales, home prices are poised to rise 0.4% month over month, and 9.3% year over year from March 2013.

“As the spring home-buying season kicks off, house price appreciation continues to be strong,” said Dr. Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic. “Although prices should remain strong in the near term due to a short supply of homes on the market, price increases should moderate over the next year as home equity releases pent-up supply.”

February was a good month to be a homeowner. Property information and analytics provider CoreLogic reports home prices nationwide -- including distressed ...
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Home prices continue to rise, but at a slower pace

Some broader measures of home prices are actually falling

Some mixed news today from the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices.

The leading measure of U.S. home prices reported that the 10-City and 20-City Composites rose 13.5% and 13.2% year-over-year through January, while 12 cities and the 20-City Composite saw their annual rates worsen.

The 10-City Composite showed a slight uptick in its index level but remained relatively unchanged. At the same time, the 20-City Composite -- a broader measure of home prices -- posted its third consecutive monthly decline of 0.1%. Twelve cities declined in January with Chicago decreasing 1.2%.

Las Vegas led at +1.1% and posted its 22nd consecutive monthly gain. Despite recent advances, Las Vegas is still the farthest from its high set in August 2006 with a peak-to-current decline of 45%. Dallas and Denver are now less than 1% away from their recent all-time index highs.

“The housing recovery may have taken a breather due to the cold weather,” says David M. Blitzer, chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “Twelve cities reported declining prices in January vs. December; 8 of those were worse than the month before. From the bottom in 2012, prices are up 23% and the housing market is showing signs of moving forward with more normal price increases.

The bright spot

The Sun Belt showed the five highest monthly returns.

Las Vegas was the leader with an increase of 1.1% followed by Miami at +0.7%. San Diego showed its best January performance of 0.6% since 2004. San Francisco and Tampa trailed closely at +0.5% and +0.4%.

Elsewhere, New York and Washington D.C. stood out as they continued to improve and posted their highest year-over-year returns since 2006. Dallas and Denver are the only cities to have reached new record peaks while Detroit remains the only city with home prices below those of 14 years ago.

“Expectations and recent data point to continued home price gains for 2014,” Blitzer noted. “Although most analysts do not expect the same rapid increases we saw last year, the consensus is for moderating gains. Existing home sales declined slightly in February and are at their lowest level since July 2012.”

Strong performers

Las Vegas and San Francisco remain the only two cities posting annual gains of over 20%. San Diego showed the most improvement with a year-over-year return of 19.4% in January from 18.0% in December. Phoenix saw its annual rate decelerate the most. Its return peaked last January when it led all 20 cities by a wide margin.

Only 7 cities -- Las Vegas, Miami, New York, San Diego, San Francisco, Tampa and Washington -- showed positive monthly returns in January.

Chicago and Seattle declined the most and posted their fourth consecutive drop in average home prices. Although Cleveland continued its decline, it showed the most improvement with -1.5% in December to -0.3% in January.  

Some mixed news today from the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices. The leading measure of U.S. home prices reported that the 10-City and 20-City Compos...
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The weather may be cold, but home prices are hot

Values posted a double-digit year-over-year increase in January

The frigid January weather didn't seem to have a cooling effect in home prices.

According to CoreLogic's Home Price Index (HPI) report, prices nationwide -- including distressed sales -- shot up 12% in January from the same time a year earlier. That's 23 straight months of year-over-year increase.

Month-over-month, home prices across the country were up 0.9% in January from December 2013.

“Polar vortices and a string of snow storms did not manage to weaken house price appreciation in January,” said Dr. Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic. “The last time January month-over-month and year-over-year price appreciation was this strong was at the height of the housing bubble in 2006.”

Hitting new highs

At the state level, including distressed sales, Louisiana, Nebraska and Texas surpassed their previous home price peaks in January. In fact, 22 states and the District of Columbia are at or within 10% of their peak home price appreciation. Additionally, over the past year, 7 states -- Nevada, California, Oregon, Michigan, Georgia, Arizona and Florida -- equaled or grew faster than the nation as a whole.

Excluding distressed sales, which include short sales and real estate owned (REO) transactions, home prices nationally were 9.8% higher this January than they were the year before and up 0.7% month over month.

January highlights

The January HPI also shows:

  • Including distressed sales, the five states with the highest home price appreciation were Nevada (+22.2%), California (+20.3%), Oregon (+14.3%), Michigan (+13.7%) and Georgia (+13.4%).
  • Including distressed sales, only Mississippi (-0.3%) posted home price depreciation in January 2014.
  • Excluding distressed sales, the five states with the highest home price appreciation were Nevada (+17.2 %, California (+16.0%), Florida (+12.7%), Arizona (+11.5%) and Oregon (+11.4%). Excluding distressed sales, no states posted home price depreciation in January.
  • Including distressed transactions, the peak-to-current change in the national HPI (from April 2006 to January 2014) was -17.3%. Excluding distressed transactions, the peak-to-current change in the HPI for the same period was -13.3%.
  • The five states with the largest peak-to-current declines, including distressed transactions, were Nevada (-40.1%), Florida (-36.4%), Arizona (-30.8%), Rhode Island (-30.5%) and West Virginia (-28.9%).
  • Ninety-seven of the top 100 Core Based Statistical Areas (CBSAs) measured by population showed year-over-year increases in January 2014. The three CBSAs that did not show an increase were New Haven-Milford, Conn., Philadelphia, Pa., and Rochester, N.Y.

Looking ahead

The CoreLogic Pending HPI indicates that February 2014 home prices -- including distressed sales -- are projected to increase 12.5% year over year from February 2013. On a month-over-month basis, home prices are expected to increase 0.7%. Excluding distressed sales, February 2014 home prices are poised to rise 10.4% year over year and 1.1% month over month from January.

“Home prices continued to march higher in January and we expect to see more increases as the market comes out of hibernation for the spring buying season,” said Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic. “Excluding distressed sales, all 50 states and the District of Columbia showed year-over-year home price appreciation for January.”

The frigid January weather didn't seem to have a cooling effect in home prices. According to CoreLogic's Home Price Index (HPI) report, prices nationwide ...
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Home prices rise, but not as fast

The best may be behind us

Home prices across the U.S. rose during 2013, but the rate of increase seems to be slowing.

Data released by S&P Dow Jones Indices for its S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices show prices were up up 11.3% for all of last year, compared with an increase of 11.2% in 2012. For the fourth quarter of 2013, the National Index actually dipped 0.3%.

The 10-City Composite remained relatively unchanged in December while the 20-City Composite showed its second consecutive monthly decline of 0.1%. Year-over-year, the 10-City and 20-City

Composites posted gains of 13.6% and 13.4% -- approximately 30 basis points lower than their November rates. Chicago showed its highest year-over-year return since December 1988. Dallas peaked, posting its largest annual gain since 2000. Denver declined 0.1% and is now 0.7% below its all-time index level high set last September.

“The S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index ended its best year since 2005,” says David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “However, gains are slowing from month-to-month and the strongest part of the recovery in home values may be over.”

Ending the streak

After 26 months of consecutive gains, Phoenix was down 0.3% in December, its largest decline since March 2011. Phoenix once led the recovery from the bottom in 2012, but Las Vegas, Los Angeles and San Francisco were the top three performing cities of 2013 with gains of over 20%.

The Sun Belt, with the exception of Dallas, Miami and Tampa, saw lower annual rates in December when compared with their November numbers. The six cities with the highest year-over-year figures saw their rates decline (Las Vegas, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Atlanta, San Diego and Detroit) and most cities ranked at the bottom improved (Denver, Washington and New York). Charlotte and Cleveland were the two exceptions.

A bleaker picture

Recent economic reports suggest a bleaker picture for housing. “Existing home sales fell 5.1% in January from December to the slowest pace in over a year,” Blitzer noted. “Permits for new residential construction and housing starts were both down and below expectations. Some of the weakness reflects the cold weather in much of the country. However, higher home prices and mortgage rates are taking a toll on affordability. Mortgage default rates, as shown by the S&P/Experian Consumer Credit Default Index, are back to their pre-crisis levels but bank lending standards remain strict.”

FHFA house price index

Separately, the Federal Housing Finance Agency  (FHFA) reports house prices rose 1.2% in the fourth quarter of 2013 -- the tenth consecutive quarterly price increase.

“Home price appreciation in the fourth quarter was considerable, but more modest than in recent periods,” said FHFA Principal Economist Andrew Leventis. “It is too early to know whether the lower quarterly growth rate represents the beginning of more normalized price appreciation patterns or a more significant slowdown.”

The agency's House Price Index (HPI) is calculated using home sales price information from mortgages sold to, or guaranteed by, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Report highlights

  • The seasonally adjusted, purchase-only HPI rose in 38 states during the fourth quarter of 2013 (10 fewer than during the third quarter). The top five states in annual appreciation were Nevada, California, Arizona, Oregon and Florida.
  • Of the nine census divisions, the Mountain division experienced the strongest increase in the fourth quarter, posting a 2.4% increase and an 11.7% gain since last year. House prices were weakest in the New England division, where prices inched up just 0.1% from the prior quarter.
  • As measured with purchase-only indexes for the 100 most populated metropolitan areas in the U.S., fourth quarter price increases were greatest in the Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach-Deerfield Beach, Fla., Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) where prices increased by 7.2%. Prices were weakest in the
  • Charleston-North Charleston, S.C., MSA, where they fell 6.5%.
  • Fifteen of the 20 MSAs with the highest annual appreciation rates were in California.
  • The monthly seasonally adjusted purchase-only index for the U.S. has increased for 22 of the last 24 months (November 2013 and January 2012 had decreases).

The complete report is available on the FHFA website.

Home prices across the U.S. rose during 2013, but the rate of increase seems to be slowing. Data released by S&P Dow Jones Indices for its S&P/Case-Shille...
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Home prices shoot higher in December

CoreLogic says annual price growth is the strongest since 2005

Home prices posted their 22nd consecutive monthly year-over-year increase in in December, according to CoreLogic.

The residential property information, analytics and services provider's Home Price Index (HPI) report shows home prices nationwide -- including distressed sales -- jumped 11% in December from the same period the year before. On a month-over-month basis, home prices dipped 0.1% from November.

If distressed sales, which include include short sales and real estate owned (REO) transaction,s are excluded, home prices increased were up 9.9% in year-over-year and 0.2% month-over-month.

"Last year, home prices rose 11%, the highest rate of annual increase since 2005, and 10 states and the District of Columbia reached new all-time price peaks," said Dr. Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic. "We expect the rising prices to attract more sellers, unlocking this pent-up supply, which will have a moderating effect on prices in 2014."

December highlights

  • Including distressed sales, the five states with the highest home price appreciation were Nevada (+23.9%), California (+19.7%), Michigan (+14.0%), Oregon (+13.7%) and Georgia (+12.8%).
  • Including distressed sales, Arkansas (-1.5%), New Mexico (-1.3%) and Mississippi (-.2%) posted home price depreciation in December 2013.
  • Excluding distressed sales, the five states with the highest home price appreciation were Nevada (+20%), California (+16.2%), Idaho (+12.8%), Oregon (+11.6%) and Florida (+11.5%).
  • Excluding distressed sales, no states posted home price depreciation in December.
  • Including distressed transactions, the peak-to-current change in the national HPI (from April 2006 to December 2013) was -18.0%. Excluding distressed transactions, the peak-to-current change in the HPI for the same period was -13.6%.
  • The five states with the largest peak-to-current declines -- including distressed transactions -- were Nevada (-40.6%), Florida (-37.6%), Arizona (-31.8%), Rhode Island (-30.3%) and West Virginia (-25.6%).
  • Ninety-five of the top 100 Core Based Statistical Areas measured by population showed year-over-year increases in December 2013.
Home prices posted their 22nd consecutive monthly year-over-year increase in in December, according to CoreLogic. The residential property information, a...
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It's cold out there, but housing prices are hot

Prices are up for 2013 as a whole, despite a dip in November

Much of the nation may be shivering through this winter, but home prices are showing no signs of cooling.

According to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, the 10-City and 20-City Composites increased 13.8% and 13.7% year-over-year through November.

Dallas posted its highest annual return of 9.9% since 2000, while Chicago boasted an annual rate of 11.0% -- its highest since December 1988.

For the month of November, the two Composites dipped 0.1%, the first decrease since November 2012. Nine out of 20 cities recorded positive monthly returns. Of these nine, Boston and Cleveland were the only cities not in the Sun Belt. Minneapolis and San Diego remained relatively flat. After declining last month, Dallas edged up to set a new index high, while Denver was 0.6% off of its highest level due to two consecutive months of declines.

A good month nonetheless

“November was a good month for home prices,” said David M. Blitzer, chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “Despite the slight decline, the 10-City and 20-City Composites showed their best November performance since 2005. Prices typically weaken as we move closer to the winter. Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Phoenix stand out as they have posted 20 or more consecutive monthly gains.

November continued a steady rise in year-over-year increases that started in June 2012, even though the rate of increase slowed. Looking at the year-over-year returns, the Sun Belt continued to push ahead with Atlanta, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Phoenix, San Diego, San Francisco and Tampa taking eight of the top nine spots. Detroit continued to recover but remains the only city with prices below its 2000 level.

Home prices continue to rise despite last May’s jump in mortgage interest rates,” said Blitzer. “Mortgage applications for purchase were up in recent weeks confirming home builders’ optimism shown by the NAHB survey. Combined with low inflation -- 1.5% in 2013 – home owners are enjoying real appreciation and rising equity values. While housing will make further contributions to the economy in 2014, the pace of price gains is likely to slow during the year.”

Increases vs. declines

Nine cities showed price increases from October to November. Miami took the lead with a gain of 1.4% and Las Vegas, the previous leader, followed at +0.6%. Chicago experienced the largest decline -- 1.2%. Nine Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) showed acceleration as measured by their monthly returns – Boston, Cleveland and San Francisco showed returns that were over 50 basis points higher in November compared with October.

After experiencing its first decline in 19 months, San Francisco rebounded to positive territory with a 0.4% gain in November. Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Phoenix and Tampa are the only cities that recorded positive gains for 12 or more consecutive months.

Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Las Vegas, Miami, New York, Tampa and Washington were the nine cities to accelerate on an annual basis. Boston showed an annual rate of 9.8%, an improvement of 1.2 percentage points from last month. Cleveland and New York followed with November year-over-year returns of 6.0% compared to 4.9% for October. Despite the improvement, Cleveland and New York remain the two lowest ranked cities. 

Much of the nation may be shivering through this winter, but home prices are showing no signs of cooling. According to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price In...
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The continuing rise in home prices

Year over year increase for November totals nearly 12%

For the 21st month in a row, home prices posted a year-over-year increase during November.

Residential property information, analytics and services provider CoreLogic reports its Home Price Index shows home prices nationwide -- including distressed sales – were up 11.8 % in November 2013 from the same month a year earlier. This marks the 21st consecutive monthly year-over-year increase in home prices nationally.

On a month-over-month basis, home prices nationwide increased a more modest 0.1%

"The housing market paused as expected in November for the holiday season with very low month-over-month appreciation,” said Dr. Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic. “Year-over-year home prices are up an impressive 11.8%. Our pending HPI projects that home prices will grow by 11.5% for the full year 2013. That will make 2013 the best year for home-price appreciation since 2005."

Home price highlights

According to the November HPI:

  • Including distressed sales, the five states with the highest home price appreciation were Nevada (+25.3%), California (+21.3%), Michigan (+14.4%), Arizona (+13.5%) and Georgia (+13.3%). The only state to show depreciation was Arkansas (-1.1%).
  • Excluding distressed sales, the five states with the highest home price appreciation were Nevada (+21%), California (+17.6%), Idaho (+12.4%), Florida (+12.4%) and Arizona (+11.7%). No states posted home price depreciation in November.
  • Including distressed transactions, the peak-to-current change in the national HPI (from April 2006 to November 2013) was -17.6%. Excluding distressed transactions, the peak-to-current change in the HPI for the same period was -13.3%.
  • The five states with the largest peak-to-current declines -- including distressed transactions -- were Nevada (-40.5%), Florida (-37.3%), Arizona (-31.4%), Rhode Island (-29.4%) and Illinois (-24.5%).
  • Ninety-six of the top 100 Core Based Statistical Areas (CBSAs) measured by population showed year-over-year increases in November 2013.

Looking ahead

The CoreLogic Pending HPI indicates that December 2013 home prices -- including distressed sales -- are expected to dip 0.1% month over month from November to December 2013, with a projected increase of 11.5% on a year-over-year basis from December 2012.

"On a year-over-year basis, home prices have appreciated every month in 2013. Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia are now at or within 10% of their peaks," said Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic. "The outlook for 2014 looks a bit less robust as regulatory complexities and tight credit can be expected to cool the housing market."

For the 21st month in a row, home prices posted a year-over-year increase during November. Residential property information, analytics and services provid...
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So far, so good for housing prices

It's been a good year through the first 10 months of 2013

Housing prices in the first 10 months of 2013 have posted their best gains in nearly 8 years.

According to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices -- a measure of U.S. home prices -- the 10-City and 20-City Composites posted year-over-year gains of 13.6%. That's the highest gain since February 2006 and the seventeenth consecutive month that both Composites increased on an annual basis.

This past October, the two Composites inched up just 0.2%, with 18 cities posting lower monthly rates in October than in September. After 19 months of gains, San Francisco showed a slightly negative return, while Phoenix held onto its streak and posted its 25th consecutive increase.

A fading boom

“Home prices increased again in October,” said David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “Both Composites’ annual returns have been in double-digit territory since March 2013 and increasing; now up 13.6% in the year ending in October. However, monthly numbers show we are living on borrowed time and the boom is fading.

Thirteen cities and both Composites posted double-digit annual returns. Cities at the top of the range (Las Vegas, San Diego and San Francisco) saw smaller annual increases. On the other hand, cities that have been relatively underperforming (Cleveland, New York and Washington) saw their annual gains grow.

Miami showed the most improvement, and Chicago recorded its highest annual rate (+10.9%) since December 1988. Charlotte and Dallas posted annual increases of 8.8% and 9.7%, respectively -- their highest since the inception of their indices in 1987 and 2000.

The Fed factor

“The key economic question facing housing is the Fed’s future course to scale back quantitative easing and how this will affect mortgage rates,” said Blitzer. “Other housing data paint a mixed picture suggesting that we may be close to the peak gains in prices. However, other economic data point to somewhat faster growth in the new year. Most forecasts for home prices point to single digit growth in 2014.”

Ten cities posted positive monthly returns in October. Las Vegas showed the largest gain with an increase of 1.2%, followed by Miami with a 1.1% monthly gain. Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington were the nine cities that declined month-over-month; two of them -- Denver and Dallas -- are slightly off their peak set last month. New York remained flat. Only Charlotte and Miami accelerated on a monthly basis.

All 20 cities posted growth from October 2012 to October 2013, with 13 showing year-over-year acceleration in October from the month before. Las Vegas, Los Angeles and San Francisco continued to post increases of over 20%. Las Vegas maintained the lead, but its return decreased two percentage points to 27.1%. Miami’s annual rate increased the most -- from 14.3% in September to 15.8% in October.

Housing prices in the first 10 months of 2013 have posted their best gains in nearly 8 years. According to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices -- a me...
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Home values fall two straight months

But a few markets remain red hot

The steady recovery in the housing market appears to have hit a speed bump. For the second straight month, the national median home value, as measured by Zillow.com, a real estate listings website, dipped slightly from the month before.

The October decline, though slight, is notable because September's median price fell from August. Back to back declines had not occurred since October 2011, when the housing market was still in the midst of recession.

The numbers aren't getting much attention because the more closely-followed number is the year-over-year number. Months are not usually measured against the month that came before so much as the same month 12 months earlier.

Here, the news for homeowners is a bit more reassuring. Home values nationwide rose 5.2%. However, that rate is significantly slower than in previous months, suggesting that the market has begun to cool off. But is it anything to worry about?

Nice while it lasted

"The months-long period of annual home value appreciation rates in the six and seven percent range was great while it lasted, but we knew it would not continue indefinitely,” said Zillow Chief Economist Dr. Stan Humphries. “The slowdown we've seen these past few months was expected, and is largely welcome news for a market still struggling to find its natural balance."

Humphries says some of the conditions that heated up the moribund housing market have changed. Historically low interest rates have risen and so have home prices, though they remain well below their bubble levels. Demand has begun to slacken as a previously-tight inventory has begun to expand a bit. In short, Humphries says the housing market is getting back to normal.

The Zillow Home Value Index places the national median home value in October at $162,800, down just 0.1% from September. But of course, all real estate – just like politics – is local. Some housing markets remain red hot.

LA still sizzles

In Los Angeles, for example, the median home value in October was $487,600, up 1.2% over September and up more than 20% year-over-year. Miami-Ft. Lauderdale saw home values rise 1.2% over September and 16.9% over October 2012.

On the other end of the scale, the median home value in St. Louis fell 0.9% to $128,200 in October – less than one percent above year-ago levels. Baltimore is another trouble spot for homeowners. Prices were down 0.7% from September and up only 4.3% from October 2012.

According to Zillow, half of the 388 metros covered experienced monthly home value depreciation in October from September. Among the 30 largest metro areas included in the Index, 10 experienced monthly depreciation in October, and two more were flat.

Slow going ahead

Where do we go from here? Zillow projects that home values should rise just 2.7% over the next 12 months – with some markets winners and some losers. For example, Zillow projects seven of the top 30 metros will see home values fall over the next year, with the biggest declines in St. Louis, Philadelphia and New York.

Going forward foreclosures may be less of a factor. The number of completed foreclosures in October fell to 5.44 homes foreclosed out of every 10,000 homes nationwide. That's down from 5.5 homes in September.

The re-sale of foreclosures amounted to 8.7% of home sales. in October, up half a percentage point from September but down 2.1% from October 2012.

The steady recovery in the housing market appears to have hit a speed pump. For the second straight month, the national median home value, as measured by Z...
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Tis the season to buy a house

Only motivated sellers are listing their homes in December

With the arrival of the holiday season who has time to go looking for a house? For that reason there aren't many buyers this time of year.

But there should be, because that's when you may find some incredible deals.

It's understandable that owner-occupants aren't eager to buy a house at this time of year. There are too many other distractions and besides, who wants to move in January?

But for investors, it's an entirely different matter. Joy Bender, a real estate agent in San Diego, Calif., says investors who sit on the sidelines in December may be passing up a profitable opportunity.

Motivated sellers

"A seller who is actively showing their property during the holidays is more motivated to sell than a seller merely testing the highs of the market," Bender said.

For example, in her market Bender says there are some builders offering unusual discounts on current phases of move in ready models in an effort to clear inventory off the books. Some sellers may be motivated for tax reasons.

“Sellers may be motivated to strategically close escrow by the end of 2013 for tax advantageous planning within regards to capital gains,” Bender said. “Buyers can also anticipate possible tax deductions for 2013 with pre-paid mortgage interest along with origination and discount points paid on closing costs.”

Buyers regaining some leverage

In some markets in the country in recent months sellers have been in the driver's seat. Inventories have been low and buying interest high. For that reason an investor seeking to buy a house well below market has often been frustrated lately. But Bender says that's changing.

"We've seen a significant shift in overall demand eliminating some of the multiple offer situations we have been struggling with all year," she said. "There has been a dramatic decrease in buyer activity especially in the high end and vacation home market."

Recent data backs that up. Sales of existing homes declined in September and October, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Only a further tightening of inventories prevented overall prices from falling. The median price rose 12% year-over-year, dampening investor enthusiasm.

Cash talks

But Bender thinks the end of 2013 might provide investors with an opportunity, especially if they can make a cash offer. A seller pressured by a deadline may be inclined to accept a lower offer if it is cash, since there is little chance the deal will fall through.

The biggest downside to end-of-the-year home buying is the limited inventory. It may be hard to find a home that meets your needs. But that's only the case if you plan to live in the house.

An investor is looking at it in a completely different way. They either plan to flip it or convert it to rental property. The color of the tile in the bathroom isn't a deal-breaker.

With the arrival of the holiday season who has time to go looking for a house? For that reason there aren't many buyers this time of year.But there shoul...
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Interest rates vs. home prices: which one is too high?

High-interest debt is bad. High-principal debt can be worse.

If you’ve been paying attention to post-housing bubble American economic news, you’ve probably noticed two consistent (and contradictory) stories that keep appearing. The first story says “Home builders and sellers mourn that Americans aren’t buying enough houses, or aren’t paying enough for them.” The second story: “Americans seeking a place to live mourn that the rent [and other housing costs] is too damn high.”

Anyway, we recently reported that American mortgage applications have dropped for the second week in a row; the number of applications in the week ending Nov. 8 was a whopping 1.8 percent lower than the previous week’s number of applications.

And soon after that article went up, we read an unintentionally bizarre article in Bloomberg BusinessWeek, headlined “D. R. Horton CEO: Somebody please tell home buyers rates are still low.”

D. R. Horton is a Texas-based homebuilding company and, as you can probably guess from the headline, the gist of the story is that Horton’s CEO is not happy that his sales dropped two percent in the previous year, and he speculated maybe fewer Americans are buying homes because they/we are just too clueless to understand that interest rates are still quite low by historical standards, which presumably means we’re supposed to BUY BUY BUY!

Meanwhile, BusinessWeek thinks a recent one-point increase in interest rates might be sufficient to explain the “low” number of American home sales. Check out this quote:

…. buyers might also be getting a little better at mortgage math, given the brutal lessons the real estate market doled out in 2008 and 2009. A single percentage point over three decades adds up fast.

Take the average D.R. Horton home. A year ago, it sold for $227,304, which a buyer could have financed for 30 years at around 3.38 percent, according to Freddie Mac. Recently, it sold for $261,400, and buyers probably locked in a rate around 4.49 percent.

The difference in sales price is only $34,096, but the 2013 buyer will end up paying about $104,000 more over the life of the loan, including an additional $64,000 or so in interest payments.

Lot of money

There’s no denying: $64,000 is a lot of money, even spread out over 30 years. But we’re more interested in this statistic: the price of a typical D. R. Horton home rose nearly 15 percent in one year, an increase more suited to the exuberant housing bubble era than the contemporary low-wage/high job insecurity American economy.

Which is not to say higher interest rates aren’t a factor at all; another undeniable fact is that interest rates and finance charges are important factors to consider, when you’re taking out a loan. As we’ve noted before: one of the most common and costly financial mistakes people make is that when they take out a loan, they only look at the size of their weekly or monthly payment rather than calculate the overall cost of repaying the debt.

But is there anything besides interest rates and financing costs you should worry about? Yes: the principal. The size of the original debt itself. We’re even heretical enough to believe the size of the principal matters more than the interest rate. After all: if you have a high-interest-rate mortgage debt, you can probably refinance it into a lower-rate debt once overall interest rates go down. However (as countless “underwater” mortgage-holders have discovered to their sorrow), refinancing, say, a $200,000 debt so that you only owe $100,000 is rarely if ever an option.

In pre-housing bubble America, the conventional wisdom for mortgage affordability used to say “For long-term fixed-rate mortgages, you can afford a loan equal to three times your annual income, after making a down payment of at least 20 percent” alongside “Your total monthly housing costs should not exceed one-third of your available income.”

So maybe we can blame D. R. Horton’s disappointing sales numbers on wannabe home buyers with unrealistic interest-rate expectations. However, we’d like to think it’s because more people are crunching the numbers and deciding “As a median American family living on the median American household income of just over $50,000 per year, we can’t afford a $260,000 mortgage debt no matter how low of an interest rate we get on it.”

Or maybe not. On the same day BusinessWeek reported the Horton CEO’s dissatisfaction with the previous year’s sales numbers, Forbes.com reported that “D. R. Horton’s order book grows,” while the company’s revenue climbed to $1.82 billion.

No surprise there, really: a two percent drop in sales plus a 15 percent increase in sale prices still equals healthy growth for the seller.

If you’ve been paying attention to post-housing bubble American economic news, you’ve probably noticed two consistent (and contradictory) stories that keep...
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The rise in home prices continues

CoreLogic says they're up by double digits in the past year

There's a pretty good chance that your home is worth more today than it was a year ago -- a really good chance.

CoreLogic's Home Price Index (HPI) report for September puts home prices nationwide -- including distressed sales -- up 12% from September 2012. That's the 19th consecutive monthly year-over-year increase in home prices nationally. On a month-over-month basis, home prices in September were up 0.2% from August 2013.

If distressed sales, which include include short sales and real estate owned (REO) transactions, are stripped out, the year-over-year increase is 10.8%, and the month-over-month rise was 0.3%. Distressed sales include short sales and real estate owned (REO) transactions.

Optimistic forecast

The CoreLogic Pending HPI indicates that October 2013 home prices, including distressed sales, are expected to rise by 12.5% on a year-over-year basis and 0.1% percent on a month-over-month basis. Excluding distressed sales, October prices are poised to rise 11.2% year over year and 0.1% on a month over month basis.

“September marked the unofficial five-year anniversary of the start of the housing crisis,” said Dr. Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic. “The five-year home price appreciation for all homes in the nation was 3.4%. While there is still room for improvement, the CoreLogic HPI is at the highest level since May 2008.”

Report highlights

CoreLogic also reports that as of September:

  • Including distressed sales, the five states with the highest home price appreciation were: Nevada (+25.3%, California (+22.5%, Arizona (+14.6%), Georgia (+14.4%) and Michigan (+13.9%).
  • Including distressed sales, no states posted home price depreciation in September.
  • Excluding distressed sales, the five states with the highest home price appreciation were: Nevada (+22.4%, California (+18.9%), Utah (+13.2%), Arizona (+12.6%) and Florida (+12.6%).
  • Excluding distressed sales, no states posted home price depreciation during the month.
  • Including distressed transactions, the peak-to-current change in the national HPI (from April 2006 to September 2013) was -17.4%. Excluding distressed transactions, the peak-to-current change in the HPI for the same period was -13.1%.
  • The five states with the largest peak-to-current declines, including distressed transactions, were Nevada (-41.4%), Florida (-37.7%), Arizona (-32.1%), Rhode Island (-28.3%) and West Virginia (-26.5%).

All of the top 100 Core Based Statistical Areas (CBSAs) measured by population showed year-over-year increases in September.

There's a pretty good chance that your home is worth more today than it was a year ago -- a real good chance. CoreLogic's Home Price Index (HPI) report fo...
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Home prices on the rise again

Year-over-year gains are the best in more than 7 years

Home prices continued to claw their way higher in August.

The S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices showed that the 10-City and 20-City Composites gained 1.3% in August, with Las Vegas leading the cities with an increase of 2.9% -- its highest since August 2004. Detroit and Los Angeles followed with gains of 2.0% each.

Year-over-year, the indices shot up 12.8%.

“The 10-City and 20-City Composites posted a 12.8% annual growth rate,” says David M. Blitzer, chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “Both Composites showed their highest annual increases since February 2006.”

Positive returns

All 20 cities reported positive year-over-year returns. Thirteen cities posted double-digit annual gains. Las Vegas and California had year-over-year increases of over 20%. Denver and Phoenix posted 20 consecutive annual increases; Miami and Minneapolis 19. Despite showing 26 consecutive annual gains, Detroit remains the only city below its January 2000 index level.

“The monthly percentage changes for the 20-City composite show the peak rate of gain in home prices was last April,” Blitzer noted. “Since then home prices continued to rise, but at a slower pace each month. This month 16 cities reported smaller gains in August compared to July. Recent increases in mortgage rates and fewer mortgage applications are two factors in these shifts.”

More new highs

Denver and Dallas again set new highs. All the other cities remain below their peaks. Boston and Charlotte are the two Metropolitan Statistical Areas closest to their peaks with only 8-9% left to go. Las Vegas is still down 47.1% from its peak level.

All twenty cities posted monthly gains in August, although most cities showed deceleration compared to July. Las Vegas was at the top of the range at +2.9% and Seattle was at the bottom with a return of +0.5%. Month-over-month, San Francisco has been losing momentum as prices increased 4.9% in April 2013 and 0.9% in August 2013.

Fourteen cities showed year-over-year rate acceleration in August versus last month. Las Vegas was the leader with an annual rate of 29.2%, its highest since March 2005. Denver and San Francisco posted their highest growth rates since August 2001 and March 2001, respectively. Although Dallas did not break into double-digit returns, the city posted its highest annual gain since it was first published in January 2000.

Home prices continued to claw their way higher in August. The S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices showed that the 10-City and 20-City Composites gained 1....
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Real estate market sending mixed signals

Sales and prices are falling but so is inventory

After months of a strong and stable recovery, U.S. home sales have slowed going into Autumn and prices have dipped. Even so, inventory remains tight in many markets, according to a number of industry sources.

Though prices and conditions will vary by market, Zip Realty's Housing Trends Report shows home prices are moderating nationwide.

"The fall's cooler temps are being matched by a cooling off in the housing market's red-hot trends," said Lanny Baker, CEO and President of ZipRealty. "For the month ended Sept. 15, median homes sale prices in the 24 metropolitan areas surveyed were up 14% year-over-year, compared to a nearly 16% gain one month earlier. Median sale prices were higher than a year ago in all cities studied, but the year to year median price increases shrank in 19 out of 24 markets. The median sale price of about $272,000 in mid-September was also about twp percent lower than in mid-August 2013."

Further moderation

The report said sold-to-list price ratios, new listings volume, pending sales volume, and days on market data for mid-September also all suggested further moderation.

Redfin, another online real estate brokerage, says its data suggests sellers are losing control of the market, with buyers once again gaining the upper hand. However, its survey of agents found many believe that limited inventory and bidding wars remain the biggest challenges for buyers.

Redfin says a slowing of sales and price rises heading into fall is not surprising. In September, it said home sales, prices, and inventory all dropped from August.

However, in September prices had their third consecutive month-over-month drop, falling 2.2%. Home sales dropped 18.8% from August, and inventory fell 3.4%. Year over year, the housing market is still showing strength, the company said, with prices up 15.9% and home sales up 8.1%.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) also noted a cooling in the market with a report that pending home sales – contracts signed but not yet closed – dipped 1.6% in August. NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun said much of the buying occurred earlier in the summer.

Lower sales expected

“Sharply rising mortgage interest rates in the spring motived buyers to make purchase decisions, culminating in a six-and-a-half-year peak for sales that were finalized in August,” he said. “Moving forward, we expect lower levels of existing-home sales, but tight inventory in many markets will continue to push up home prices in the months ahead.”

And there is little to suggest the tight inventory conditions will change anytime soon. CoreLogic, a property data firm, reports the inventory of foreclosed homes is down 33% from a year ago, meaning there are fewer distressed properties competing with homeowners trying to sell.

According to the report there were 48,000 completed foreclosures in the U.S. in August of 2013, down from 72,000 in August 2012. That's a year-over-year decrease of 34%. On a month-over-month basis, completed foreclosures increased 1.3 percent, from 47,000 in July 2013.

Putting it in context

However, the numbers should be viewed in context. CoreLogic notes that the 48,000 completed foreclosures are sharply lower that at the height of the housing crisis, but they are still sharply higher than before the crisis began. Between 2000 and 2006 completed foreclosures averaged 21,000 per month. Still, for the health of the housing market, the numbers are running in the right direction.

“The foreclosure inventory continues to improve, as exhibited by these recent numbers,” said Dr. Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic. “A surge in completed foreclosures and a rise in the foreclosure inventory is unlikely given continued house price improvements and shortages of supply in many markets.”

What it means is the housing market may maintain some balance heading into the end of the year, which should turn out to be good for everyone.

After months of a strong and stable recovery, U.S. home sales have slowed going into Autumn and prices have dipped. Even so, inventory remains tight in man...
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Another month of rising home prices

Two widely watched measures show the advance continuing

Your home was worth more in July than it was in June -- a pattern that's stretched over at least the last four months.

According to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, home prices in July were up 1.9% and 1.8% from June for the 10- and 20-City Composites. All 20 cities have showed showed monthly gains for at least the last four months. Phoenix has now posted 22 consecutive months of advances.

Although home prices in all the cities increased, 15 cities and both Composites saw the increase in the monthly rates decelerate in July versus June. Over the last 12 months, prices rose 12.3% and 12.4% as measured by the 10- and 20-City Composites. The year-over-year returns show a brighter outlook with 13 cities posting improvement in July versus June values. Las Vegas increased the most from +24.9% in June to an impressive +27.5% in July.

No peaks yet

“Home prices gains are holding their 12% annual rate of gain established by the two Composite indices in April,” says David M. Blitzer, chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “The Southwest continues to lead the housing recovery. Las Vegas home prices are up 27.5% year-over-year; in California, San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego are up 24.8%, 20.8% and20.4% respectively. However, all remain far below their peak levels.

Since April 2013, all 20 cities are up month to month; however, the monthly rates of price gains have declined, with more cities are experiencing slow gains each month than the previous month. That, says Blitzer, suggests the rate of increase may have peaked.

“Following the increase in mortgage rates beginning last May, applications for mortgages have dropped, suggesting that rising interest rates are affecting housing,” he said, adding, “The Fed’s announcement last week that QE3 bond buying will continue for the time being may have only a limited, though favorable, impact on housing.”

As of July 2013, average home prices across the U.S. are back to their spring 2004 levels. Measured from their June/July 2006 peaks, the peak-to-current decline for both Composites is approximately 21-22%. The recovery from the March 2012 lows is 20.5% and 21.2% for the 10-City and 20-City Composites.

FHFA house price index

Meanwhile, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) monthly House Price Index (HPI) shows home prices were up 1.0% in July from their June levels. That's the eighteenth consecutive monthly price increase.

The HPI is calculated using home sales price information from mortgages either sold to or guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Compared with July 2012, house prices were up 8.8% in July. The U.S. index is 9.6% below its April 2007 peak and is roughly the same as the March 2005 index level.

For the nine census divisions, monthly price changes from June to July ranged from -0.7% in the East South Central division to +2.2% in the Pacific division, while the 12-month changes ranged from +3.8% in the East South Central division to +20.8% in the Pacific division.

The full July report is available on the FHFA website.

Your home was worth more in July than it was in June -- a pattern that's stretched over at least the last four months. According to the S&P/Case-Shiller H...
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Realtors: housing market getting back to normal

Supply is catching up with demand, analysts say

Home prices are up, which is good news for homeowners hoping to regain some of their equity lost when the housing market plunged five years ago. But much of the upward price movement had to do with supply, not demand.

For the last couple of years there have been fewer homes on the market. The initial glut caused by foreclosures quickly dried up when banks slowed their seizure of homes in default. People who owed more than their home was worth couldn't afford to sell, so those houses have remained out of the inventory.

With fewer available homes buyers were suddenly in the unfamiliar position of having to compete for the homes they wanted. Thus, sellers were able to demand a higher price.

While that has helped drive prices higher, economists point out a market so heavily influenced by supply isn't necessarily a healthy market. Rather, they say, there should be a balance between supply and demand. There still have not been enough buyers in the marketplace, in large part due to the difficulty of qualifying for a mortgage.

Changing for the better

However, that may be changing for the better. A report compiled by online real estate marketing site Realtor.com finds there has been a shift in the dynamics of the marketplace. Its report suggests future gains in home prices may occur because of an increase in people shopping for homes.

A breakdown of the summer home-buying season ending in August shows year-over-year changes now within the single-digits for three indicators Realtors consider critical to market health – inventory count, median age and median list price. Those changes haven't been positive for years.

"Where we have seen significant volatility in many markets, including double-digit declines in inventory as well as increases in median price for both yearly and monthly views, we are now looking at a housing market that is less heated and moving closer to normalcy," said Steve Berkowitz, CEO of Move, Inc., Realtor.com's parent company.

Inventories are growing

The August numbers show the inventory of homes for sale is growing again. The net number of listings went up, even though the summer season was drawing to a close. Nearly one-third of the 146 markets measured are within five percent of last year's inventory levels, and more than two-thirds of markets registered a net increase in inventory over last month.

With inventory levels rising you might expect prices to move in the opposite direction. In August, that didn't happen. The national median list price was the same as it was in July. Though the overall number remained flat, 123 of the 146 Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) covered by the analysis showed a year-over-year increase in the average list price.

California markets continue to dominate the list of areas experiencing the largest year-over-year median list price increases. That's something of a surprise since there has been a surge in new property listings in those markets.

Additional data

Statistics collected by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) tend to also reflect this hopeful trend. NAR reports median home prices were higher in a majority of metro areas in the second quarter of the year, with the national year-over-year price registering the strongest gain in seven and a half years.

However, NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun, at the time of the report, said he had yet to see the supply of available homes catching up to demand.

“Higher interest rates are now causing sales to level out, but the tight supply conditions look to be with us for the balance of the year in most of the country,” Yun said. “Areas with tighter supplies generally are seeing the strongest price growth, including markets such as Sacramento, Atlanta, Las Vegas, Naples, San Francisco and Los Angeles.”

Higher mortgage rates, ironically, may be one of two trends that might support a continued housing recovery. It's true that a higher rate will make a monthly payment slightly higher. At the same time, higher rates make lenders increasingly willing to make loans, since the reward for their risk is higher.

Finally, the government's proposed new Qualified Residential Mortgage (QRM) rule, issued at the end of August, is likely to open home ownership to more people. NAR President Gary Thomas says the new standard strikes a reasonable balance -- “stringent enough to protect consumers from unscrupulous lending practices but creating new opportunities for private capital to reestablish itself as part of a robust and competitive mortgage market.”

With the financial incentive of higher rates and lending guidelines that favor more buyers, Realtors expect more consumers will shop for houses, providing the stability the housing market needs if it is to fully recover.

Home prices are up, which is good news for homeowners hoping to regain some of their equity lost when the housing market plunged five years ago. But much o...
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Home prices climb again in July

Hardest hit areas are leading the way

The latest Home Price Index (HPI) report released by CoreLogic suggests there's no end in sight to the increase in home prices.

Home prices nationwide -- including distressed sales -- shot up 12.4% in July from the same month a year ago. That marks the 17th consecutive monthly year-over-year increase in home prices nationally. On a monthly basis, prices in July rose 1.8% from the previous month.

Distressed sales include short sales and real estate owned (REO) transactions

When distressed sales are taken out of the mix, prices a year-over-year basis were up 11.4% in July and -- on a month-over-month basis -- prices posted an increase of 1.7% in July 2013.

"Home prices continue to climb across the nation in July with markets hit hardest during the downturn leading the way," said Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic. "Nationally, home prices are now within 18 percent of their peak levels reached in April of 2006."

Report highlights

The CoreLogic HPI report also found:

  • Including distressed sales, the five states with the highest home price appreciation were: Nevada (+27%), California (+23.2%), Arizona (+17%), Wyoming (+16.4%) and Oregon (+15%).
  • Including distressed sales, this month only one state posted home price depreciation: Delaware (-1.3%).
  • Excluding distressed sales, the five states with the highest home price appreciation were: Nevada (+24.2%), California (+20.2%), Arizona (+14.9%), Utah (+13.5%) and Florida (+13.5%).
  • Excluding distressed sales, no states posted home price depreciation in July.
  • Of the top 100 Core Based Statistical Areas (CBSAs) measured by population, 99 were showing year-over-year increases in July, the same as in June.

Looking ahead

The CoreLogic Pending HPI indicates that August 2013 home prices -- including distressed sales -- will rise by 12.3% on a year-over-year basis from August 2012 and by 0.4% on a month-over-month basis from July. Excluding distressed sales, August 2013 home prices are poised to rise 12.2% year over year from August 2012 and by 1.2% month over month.

"Home prices continued to surge in July," said Dr. Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic. "Looking ahead to the second half of the year, price growth is expected to slow as seasonal demand wanes and higher mortgage rates have a marginal impact on home purchase demand."

Mortgage applications

Mortgage applications rose last week for the first time in a month.

According to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending August 30, applications were up 1.3% from the previous week.

The Refinance Index, meanwhile, was up 2%. That put the refinance share of mortgage activity increased at 61% -- up 1% from the previous week. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity fell to 7%, while the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) share of refinance applications increased to 38%, up 3 % from the week before and the highest since MBA started tracking it in early 2012.

Interest rates

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages (FRMs) with conforming loan balances ($417,000 or less) decreased to 4.73% from 4.80% for 80% loan-to-value ratio (LTV) loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year FRMs with jumbo loan balances (greater than $417,000) decreased to 4.71% from 4.78% for 80%. The effective rate decreased from last week. This is the second consecutive week that the 30-year fixed interest rate for jumbo loans has been lower than the 30-year fixed rate for conforming loans.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year FRMs backed by the FHA decreased to 4.48% from 4.52% for 80% LTV loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.

The average contract interest rate for 15-year FRMs decreased to 3.75% from 3.84% for 80% LTV loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.

The average contract interest rate for 5/1 ARMs decreased to 3.49% from 3.50% for 80% LTV loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.

The latest Home Price Index (HPI) report released by CoreLogic suggests there's no end in sight to the increase in home prices. Home prices nationwide --...
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The climb in home values continues

Cities in the West are leading the advance

There doesn't seem to be an end in sight to the rise in home prices across the nation.

According to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, the National Index grew 7.1% in the second quarter and 10.1% over the last four quarters. The 10-City and 20-City Composites were up 2.2% in June and 11.9% and 12.1% over 12 months.

All 20 cities posted gains on a monthly and annual basis. However, in only six cities were prices rising faster this month than last, compared with ten in May. Dallas and Denver reached new all-time highs as they did last month, with gains of 1.7% each in June. San Francisco’s rebound is the largest -- up 47.0% from its low in March 2009. Phoenix is second -- 37.1% above its September 2011 low.

“National home prices rose more than 10% annually in each of the last two quarters,” said David M. Blitzer, chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “However, the monthly city by city data show the pace of price increases is moderating.

Moderating increases

Overall, the report shows that housing prices are rising but the pace may be slowing, with increases in 13 out of 20 cities weakening from May to June. “As we are in the middle of a seasonal buying period,” Blitzer said, “we should expect to see the most gains. With interest rates rising to almost 4.6%, home buyers may be discouraged and sharp increases may be dampened.”

He notes that other housing news is positive, but not as robust as last spring. “Starts and sales of new homes continue to lag the stronger pace set by existing homes,” he pointed out, adding, “despite recent increases in mortgage interest rates, affordability is still good as credit qualifications have eased somewhat.”

Back on track

As of June 2013, average home prices across the U.S are back to their spring 2004 levels. Measured from their June/July 2006 peaks, the peak-to-current decline for both Composites is approximately 23%. The recovery from the March 2012 lows is 18.4% and 19.0% for the 10-City and 20-City Composites.

All 20 cities showed positive monthly returns for at least the third consecutive month. Six cities -- Charlotte, Cleveland, Las Vegas, Minneapolis, New York and Tampa -- showed acceleration. Atlanta took the lead with a return of 3.4% as San Francisco dropped to +2.7% in June from +4.3% in May. New York posted a gain of 2.1%, its highest since July 2002.

Year-over-year, Las Vegas and San Francisco were the only two Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) to post gains of over 20%; Atlanta, Detroit and Phoenix decreased to +19.0%, +16.4% and +19.8%, respectively. Seven cities -- Dallas, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Diego and Tampa -- showed improvement in their annual rates. Out of the 13 remaining MSAs, Detroit showed the most deceleration but still posted an impressive 16.4% increase. Despite gaining 35.6% from its post-recession low in April 2011, Detroit remains the only city below its January 2000 level.

There doesn't seem to be an end in sight to the rise in home prices across the nation. According to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, the National ...
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The economy: home prices, jobless claims rise

Yet another indication that the housing comeback is for real

The value of what is probably your largest asset continues to rise.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) says its House Price Index (HPI) was up was up 0.7% in June, and that prices in the second quarter were up 7.2% from the same period a year earlier. The HPI is calculated using home sales price information from mortgages sold to or guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

“The housing market experienced one of its strongest quarters since the boom in the middle of the last decade,” said FHFA Principal Economist Andrew Leventis.

Of the nine census divisions, the Pacific division experienced the strongest increase in the latest quarter, posting a 4.6% increase and a 16.2% increase since last year. House prices were weakest in the East South Central division, where prices increased 0.9% from the prior quarter.

The full report is available on the FHFA website.

Jobless claims

Separately, the government reported first time applications for state jobless benefits rose by 13,000 in the week ending August 17 -- to a seasonally adjusted total of 336,000.

Analysts surveyed by Briefing.com, who were projecting a larger increase, say the current level of suggests a gain in payrolls of about 200,000 per month.

The 4-week moving average, which is less volatile and considered a more accurate picture of the labor market, was down 2,250 to 330,500. During the past four weeks, the moving average has dropped to its lowest level since November 2007, which analysts take as a sign that labor market conditions are improving.

The complete weekly jobless claims report can be found on the Labor Department website

The value of what is probably your largest asset continues to rise. The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) says its House Price Index (HPI) was up was ...
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Can you cash in on the housing rebound?

Maybe, but not the way you did before the Great Recession

The real estate market has come a long way from the depths of the Great Recession, which froze sales and sent home values plunging. Now, both sales and prices are rising.

That point was driven home earlier this month when CoreLogic reported that home prices nationwide, including foreclosures and short-sales, increased 11.9% in June, year-over-year. It was the 16th straight monthly increase in home prices. Though prices in most markets are not back to where they were at the height of the housing bubble, the rebound is presenting some people the opportunity to cash in, in one way or another.

The most obvious way to cash in is to put your home up for sale. If you bought before 2003, when prices began to surge, you may have regained a lot of your lost equity. That lost equity may have prevented you from putting your house on the market over the last few years.

Now's the time

“Now may be the time to do it,” said Pat Esswein, who writes about real estate for personal finance publication Kiplinger. “It certainly is a quicker process, and in many markets you can sell for more money than you could a year or two ago.”

Of course, all real estate is local. It's possible that market conditions where you live haven't fully recovered. But if you live in one of the hardest hit markets, you may have recovered quite a bit of equity.

“In Phoenix, for example, they've seen home process rocket up, by more than 20% in some cases,” Esswein said. “But that's somewhat unusual. But at least prices in most markets are moving in the right direction. Homes are appreciating in value to some degree. There are still a lot of homeowners who are underwater on their mortgages. They'll probably have to wait some time yet before they have enough equity to allow them to sell.”

One reason prices have recovered is the short supply of homes for sale. Over the last year foreclosures have slowed considerably. Those underwater homeowners can't sell. That means you might be able to sell your home quickly but might not be able to find another house right away. That can raise problems for the seller.

Make choices

“You may have to eliminate some things from your wish list or you may have to broaden the geographic scope or your search,” Esswein said. “If you feel you're going to need more time to find something, many sellers are asking the purchasers to do what's known as a lease-back arrangement, where the seller can rent back their current home for some period of time after settlement.”

But that isn't always feasible. The buyer might not have the luxury of waiting three months before taking possession of the property.

Selling your home is not the only way to cash in on the recovering market. Many homeowners have refinanced, taking advantage of historically low interest rates. The lower rates have resulted in lower monthly payments, in effect putting money in the homeowner's pocket every month.

“People have been refinancing right along as rates dropped to historic lows,” Esswein said. “And even though there has been some volatility over the last few months, rates still are historically low.”

Lower payment is primary goal

When most people refinance their mortgages these days, they are doing so to lower their payments. By and large they are more likely to pay down principal at closing, rather than take out equity in cash.

“If you have equity you could do a cash-out refi, but of course when you take cash out, you are reducing your equity in the home and increasing the risk to the lender, so they charge you a premium,” Esswein said.

During the housing bubble millions of consumers did, in fact, take cash out of their homes when they refinanced. After all, it was generally assumed that the value of real estate would always go up.

Of course, it didn't. The resulting housing crash left many people who once had a lot of equity in their homes with negative equity. A number of those cases ended in foreclosure.

Will history repeat itself? Esswein says it's not likely. Lenders are a lot more prudent than they once were – and so in fact are homeowners. Still, the recovering housing market may allow some homeowners to “cash in,” even if it means just being able to finally sell their homes.

The real estate market has come a long way from the depths of the Great Recession, which froze sales and sent home values plunging. Now, both sales and pri...
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CoreLogic: June home prices up sharply year-over-year

And the outlook is good for the move higher to continue

There seems to be no letup in the rise in home values.

CoreLogic reports home prices nationwide -- including distressed sales -- were up 11.9% on a year-over-year basis in June 2013. It's the 16th consecutive monthly increase in home prices nationally. Distressed sales include short sales and real estate owned transactions.

On a month-over-month basis (June-over-May), CoreLogic's Home Price Index (HPI) has prices up 1.9%.

The provider of residential property information, analytics and services says its Pending HPI indicates that July home prices -- including distressed sales -- are expected to rise by 12.5% on a year-over-year basis from July 2012 and 1.8% on a month-over-month basis from June 2013.

“Remarkable” appreciation

"In the first six months of 2013, the U.S. housing market appreciated a remarkable 10 percent," said Dr. Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic. "This trend in home price gains is moving at the fastest pace since 1977."

"The U.S. housing market experienced robust price appreciation during the first half of 2013 and our forecast calls for double-digit growth through July," said Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic. "Despite their rebound of late, home prices remain reasonable in a historical context, with most states near peak affordability levels."

June highlights

  • Including distressed sales, the five states with the highest home price appreciation were: Nevada (+26.5%), California (+21.4%), Wyoming (+16.7%), Arizona (+16.2%) and Georgia (+14.3%).
  • Including distressed sales, this month only two states posted home price depreciation: Mississippi (-2.1%) and Delaware (-1.1%).
  • Including distressed transactions, the peak-to-current change in the national HPI (from April 2006 to June 2013) was -19%. Excluding distressed transactions, the peak-to-current change in the HPI for the same period was -14%.
  • The five states with the largest peak-to-current declines, including distressed transactions, were Nevada (-44.3%), Florida (-38.6%), Arizona (-33.9%), Rhode Island (-31.7%), and Michigan (-31.1%).
  • Of the top 100 Core Based Statistical Areas (CBSAs) measured by population, 99 were showing year-over-year increases in June, one more than in May 2013.
There seems to be no letup in the rise in home values. CoreLogic reports home prices nationwide -- including distressed sales -- were up 11.9% on a year-o...
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Home price surge continues in May

Some post-meltdown highs were even posted

Home prices in the U.S. continued to rise during May, with the best news coming for homeowners in Dallas and Denver.

According to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, a leading measure of U.S. home prices, the 10- and 20-City Composites were up 2.5% and 2.4%, respectively in May. Dallas and Denver reached record levels -- surpassing their pre-financial meltdown peaks set in June 2007 and August 2006, the first time any city has made a new all-time high.

Even more impressive, the 10- and 20-City Composites posted annual increases of 11.8% and 12.2%, respectively -- the best year-over-year gains since March 2006.

Strong showings

“Home prices continue to strengthen,” says David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “Two cities set new highs, surpassing their pre-crisis levels and five cities -- Atlanta, Chicago, San Diego, San Francisco and Seattle -- posted monthly gains of over three percent, also a first time event.

The Southwest and the West saw the strongest year-over-year gains as San Francisco home prices rose 24.5% followed by Las Vegas and Phoenix. New York, Cleveland and Washington, DC, were the weakest. Monthly numbers, before seasonal adjustment, showed all 20 cities experienced rising prices. San Francisco, Chicago and Atlanta were the leaders, while Cleveland and Minneapolis were down slightly after seasonal adjustment.

“The overall report points to some shifts among various markets,” said Blitzer. “Washington,DC, is no longer the standout leader and the eastern Sunbelt cities -- Miami and Tampa -- are lagging behind their western counterparts.”

Cities on the move

All 20 cities showed positive monthly returns for May. Ten cities -- Chicago, Denver, Detroit, Las Vegas, Miami, New York, Phoenix, Portland, Seattle and Tampa -- showed acceleration.

Chicago posted an impressive monthly rate of 3.7% in May;, up one percentage point over April. Miami and Seattle had their largest monthly gains since August 2005 and April 1990, respectively.

On an annual basis, all cities showed gains ranging from 3.3% to 24.5%. Twelve Metropolitan Statistical Areas -- Atlanta, Detroit, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, Phoenix, Portland, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle and Tampa -- posted double-digit growth. Atlanta, Las Vegas, Phoenix and San Francisco were the four cities to post annual increases of over 20%. Las Vegas and San Francisco accelerated as measured by their May versus April year-over-year returns.

Although Atlanta and Phoenix continue to post impressive gains, their May annual rate decreased to just over 20% compared to April. Detroit showed the most deceleration with a three percentage point decline.  

Home prices in the U.S. continued to rise during May, with the best news coming for homeowners in Dallas and Denver. According to the S&P/Case-Shiller Hom...
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Home prices continue their climb

But they have a long way to go to hit their peak

Your home continues to rise in value.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) says its monthly House Price Index (HPI) rose 0.7% in May, marking the sixteenth consecutive monthly price increase in the purchase-only, seasonally adjusted index.

While the increase puts house prices up 7.3% from May of last year, the HPI is still 11.2% below its April 2007 peak and roughly the same as the January 2005 index level.

The HPI is calculated using home sales price information from mortgages either sold to or guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

For the nine census divisions, monthly price changes from April to May ranged from -1.5% in the East South Central division to +1.8% in the South Atlantic division, while the 12-month changes ranged from +2.7% in the East South Central division to +15.8% in the Pacific division.

Looking ahead

The government is scheduled to release its new-home sales report for June on Wednesday morning. Analysts surveyed by Briefing.com are forecasting sales will have risen to 483,000 homes from May's total of 476,000. The report will contain the latest figures on prices as well.

Earlier this week, the National Association of Realtors reported the median price for existing homes rose in June for a sixteenth straight month.

Your home continues to rise in value. The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) says its monthly House Price Index (HPI) rose 0.7% in May, marking the six...
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Home prices post year-to-year surge in May

June's numbers could be even better

The news just keeps getting better for people who want to sell their homes.

According to the CoreLogic Home Price Index (HPI) report for May, home prices nationwide -- including distressed sales -- shot up 12.2% on a year-over-year basis from May 2012. That's the biggest year-over-year increase since February 2006 and the 15th consecutive monthly increase in home prices nationally. On a month-over-month basis, home prices increased by 2.6% from the previous month.

Distressed sales include short sales and real estate owned (REO) transactions.

When distressed sales are stripped out, home prices increased on a year-over-year basis by 11.6%. On a month-over-month basis, excluding distressed sales, home prices increased 2.3% in May 2013 compared to April 2013.

“It’s been more than seven years since the housing market last experienced the increases that we saw in May, with indications that the summer months will continue to see significant gains,” said Dr. Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic. “As we approach the half-way point of 2013, home prices continue to respond positively to the reductions in home inventory thus far.”

Looking ahead

The CoreLogic Pending HPI indicates that June 2013 home prices will rise by 13.2% on a year-over-year basis from June 2012 and rise by 2.9% on a month-over-month basis from May.

“Home price appreciation, particularly in much of the western half of the U.S., is increasing at a torrid pace,” said Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic. “Across the country, pent-up demand and continued low interest rates are fueling strong demand for a limited inventory of properties. We expect that trend to continue to drive up prices throughout the balance of the summer months.”

May highlights

The report for May also shows:

  • Including distressed sales, the five states with the highest home price appreciation were: Nevada (+26%), California (+20.2%), Arizona (+16.9%), Hawaii (+16.1%) and Oregon (+15.5%).
  • Including distressed sales, this month only two states posted home price depreciation: Delaware (-0.6%) and Alabama (-0.1%).
  • Excluding distressed sales, the five states with the highest home price appreciation were: Nevada (+23%), California (+18.5%), Arizona (+14.7%), Idaho (+13.2%) and Oregon (+13.2%).
  • Excluding distressed sales, no states posted home price depreciation in May.
  • Including distressed transactions, the peak-to-current change in the national HPI (from April 2006 to May 2013) was -20.4%. Excluding distressed transactions, the peak-to-current change in the HPI for the same period was -14.9%.
  • The five states with the largest peak-to-current declines, including distressed transactions, were Nevada (-45.6%), Florida (-39.2%), Arizona (-34.8%), Michigan (-33.3%) and Rhode Island (-31.3%).
  • Of the top 100 Core Based Statistical Areas (CBSAs) measured by population, 97 were showing year-over-year increases in May, compared with 94 the month before.
The news just keeps getting better for people who want to sell their homes. According to the CoreLogic Home Price Index (HPI) report for May, home prices ...
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Buying your first home? Here are your tax breaks

The tax code rewards homeowners, so take advantage of it

First-time homeowners often are quickly confronted with the trials and travails of home ownership. When something goes wrong, there is no landlord to call. It's up to you to fix whatever is broken.

But there are some financial benefits to owning a home that is your principal residence, thanks to the U.S. tax code. The key, though, is living in the house full time. Most of the tax breaks for houses don't apply to investment property or second homes.

The first big tax break is the mortgage interest deduction. The tax law allows you to deduct the interest paid on a mortgage on your primary residence, and even a second home.

Must be secured by the home

Generally, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) considers home mortgage interest to be any interest you pay on a loan secured by your home. It may be a mortgage to buy your home, a second mortgage, a line of credit, or a home equity loan.

You can deduct home mortgage interest if you file Form 1040 and itemize deductions on Schedule A and the mortgage is a debt, secured by the home.

In most cases, you can deduct all of your home mortgage interest. According to the IRS, how much you can deduct depends on the date of the mortgage, the amount of the mortgage, and how you use the mortgage proceeds. You can even deduct mortgage interest on a second home, as long as you do not rent it out during the tax year. IRS Publication 936 explains it in detail. 

In addition to the mortgage interest, your tax breaks may begin when you buy the home. If you pay points on the loan at closing, the points – or prepaid interest – are deductible. Even if the seller pays your points, you still get to deduct them.

Taxes

Owning a home means you will be paying property taxes. Under the tax law, taxes paid on personal property are deductible.

Since property taxes are generally rolled into your monthly payment, along with principal, interest and insurance, a significant portion of your monthly house payment is deductible. Here's an example:

Suppose your payment is $1,800 a month. After each payment the principal portion of the payment rises slightly, but in the early years you may be paying approximately $300 in principal, $1,000 in interest, $450 in taxes and $50 in insurance.

Since you can deduct the interest and taxes, $1,450 of your monthly payment is deductible, resulting in a $17,400 annual write off. If you are in the 28% tax bracket, that puts $4,872 back in your pocket. Put another way, that $1,800 house payment is actually about $1,400.

Tax-free capital gain

The biggest tax break, however, comes when you sell your home, providing you have lived in it at least two years as your primary residence. Normally, when you buy an asset and later sell it, you pay a tax on the capital gain – the difference between what you paid and what you sold it for.

Under current tax law, you are exempted from paying a capital gains tax if you have owned your primary residence two years or longer and the gain is $250,000 or less for an individual and $500,000 for a married couple.

This amounts to a sizable windfall and is a major improvement over the previous law, that allowed you to escape the capital gains tax only if you purchased another, more expensive home within two years.

Investment property

Investment property can also provide some tax breaks, but not nearly as generous. If the home is treated as rental property, it can be depreciated on an annual basis. The taxes are deductible, as are the costs of any repairs.

The tax advantages of any investment are largely dependent on the overall income of the property owner. How ownership of investment property will impact your bottom line is something you should discuss – and discuss carefully – with a financial advisor or tax professional.

First-time homeowners often are quickly confronted with the trials and travails of home ownership. When something goes wrong, there is no landlord to call....
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Avoiding home buyer's remorse

The excitement of purchasing a home sometimes gives way to second guessing

It's one thing when you order an exotic kitchen gadget you saw on a TV infomercial and later ask, “what was I thinking?” It's quite another when you buy a home and, months down the road, have a case of buyer's remorse. But it happens all the time.

With a home, there are no returns so you had better be prepared to stick with your purchase for a few years. That puts a lot of pressure on a home purchase decision, especially if it has to be made on a tight deadline.

Real estate site Trulia surveyed users and found that 52% expressed at least one regret about their current home, or the way they went about selecting it. Learning from previous buyers' mistakes may help you avoid a case of home buyer's remorse of your own.

Need more room

For example, 17% of those in the survey said they wished they had purchased a larger home. When looking at houses, it is easy to be attracted to a “cute” bungalow, especially if it is uncluttered and tastefully decorated.

But keep in mind it is being “staged” for sale. Half the owner's belongings could be in a storage unit, for all you know. That's why you should pay attention to the home's square footage and compare it to the space you are occupying now, or how much you think you will need in the future.

Does the home have a basement or attic? How many and what size are the closets? These could be important questions if you have a lot of belongings that need to be stored.

Fourteen percent of respondents said they wished they had done more remodeling before they moved in. Once you move in, painting, knocking out walls and tearing out a kitchen or bathroom is very disruptive. If you have the time, doing remodeling before you move in can make life a little easier.

Another common regret among home buyers is failure to learn more about the home before buying it. That's why you do home inspections but these inspections don't always pick up every problem.

Other second thoughts

Other homeowners said they wished they had put more money down at purchase and some said they wished they had waited to buy a home until they were more financially secure. Taken together, these second thoughts provide good reasons to take your time in the home purchase process.

“Many homes don’t stay on the market for long, so buyers will have to move fast,” said Jed Kolko, Trulia’s chief economist. “But when it comes to searching for a home, as with everything else, moving too fast leads to mistakes and regrets.”

Besides taking your time, there are some other things you can do to avoid second-guessing yourself later. Before starting your search, make a list of all the things that you think are important in your new home. Then, when you find a house that you think fits the bill, review it against that list.

If you decided you want a house with a garage and the house you are considering doesn't have one, ask yourself how important that criteria is. You may find that you love the home's architecture, the landscaping and the French doors, but in all the practical requirements you set out, it comes up short.

Location

It's true what they say about real estate and location, so give the home's location some serious thought. It's not uncommon for first time home buyers to be seduced by the idea of purchasing a brand-new home. But to find a new home in their price range they may have to go to the outer suburbs.

If you have jobs in the city center, think about the commute. Not just the gasoline you'll need but the time you'll spend in a car each day. Good advice from Realtors is to buy the location, not the house.

Purchasing a home is stressful and most mistakes occur when you feel rushed. Take your time and realize that, if one house gets away from you, another will come along.  

It's one thing when you order an exotic kitchen gadget you saw on a TV infomercial and later ask, “what was I thinking?” It's quite another whe...
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Housing market continues to find stability

Indicators are promising but we aren't out of the woods yet

When home prices plunged in 2009 and 2010, millions of homeowners were stuck in place. They couldn't sell their homes or, when interest rates plunged, they couldn't refinance because their homes were worth less than the mortgage balance.

It's a condition known as “being underwater,” and these millions of homeowners have spent the last four years fighting to keep their heads above water. But as the housing market has recovered, there are beginning to be signs that the market is regaining some stability.

One indicator is a drop in homeowners with negative equity. CoreLogic, a residential property data firm, reports nearly a million mortgages returned to a positive equity balance in the first quarter of the year. So far so good.

Don't pop the Champagne just yet

While the trend is encouraging, it probably isn't cause for celebration, as many of these homeowners with newly-gained home equity still can't refinance – at least not yet. That's because of the 39 million U.S. residential properties with positive equity, 11.2 million have less than 20 percent equity. Borrowers with less than 20 percent equity usually have a very difficult time getting new financing for their homes because underwriters have vastly increased their standards.

But for housing market analysts, the good news is that the trend is running in a positive direction.

Another trend that might slow the rise in home prices is an increase in bank repossessions of foreclosed homes. Repossessions slowed to a crawl last year and those that did make it to the marketplace were quickly snapped up by investors. It was one reason for a big drop in available homes for sales and that decline in inventory helped push prices higher.

RealtyTrac, an online foreclosure marketer, reports bank repossessions jumped 11% in May, suggesting banks have been sitting on troubled mortgages, waiting for market conditions to improve before foreclosing. A rise in REOs may mean banks see a ripening market.

More foreclosures to come

While foreclosure sales and repossessions are on the rise again, a report from Lender Processing Services (LPS) finds there are still plenty of distressed properties still in the pipeline.

"The situation is far from resolved," LPS Applied Analytics Senior Vice President Herb Blecher said. "Foreclosure inventories in judicial states are still more than three times the size of those in non-judicial states, and national inventories are still more than seven times pre-crisis levels.”

Banks appear to be controlling how quickly foreclosures come to the market, which may have prevented the market from becoming over saturated. The resulting shortage of homes for sales in many areas has caused long-dormant home builders to go back to work, constructing new homes.

Fannie Mae's Economic & Strategic Research Group says housing has helped the U.S. enter a prolonged period of steady economic growth which  has yet to reach its full potential.

Below-par growth

"At the outset of the year, we forecast that 2013 would witness sustainable but below-par growth as the economy begins its transition to more normal levels. Halfway through the year, our view is little changed," said Fannie Mae Chief Economist Doug Duncan. "We expect approximately 2.1 percent growth over the course of 2013, up from the anemic pace of 1.7 percent in 2012. This is consistent with the incremental improvement seen over the past few years but still below the economy's potential. Our forecast calls for growth to push past 2.5 percent in 2014, boosted largely by tailwinds from the strengthening housing market."

Duncan says housing was a mostly positive force entering the spring and summer season, with important indicators like home prices, home sales, and homebuilding activity showing signs of long-term improvement toward normal levels. The outlook? In spite of rising mortgage rates, Duncan says housing market conditions remain favorable and should not present a significant obstacle to potential home buyers.

When home prices plunged in 2009 and 2010, millions of homeowners were stuck in place. They couldn't sell their homes or, when interest rates plunged, they...
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More homeowners coming up for air

850,000 fewer homes were under water in the first quarter

Things are looking better for homeowners who are underwater, keeping in mind that “better” is a relative term.

According to property information, analytics and services provider CoreLogic, approximately 850,000 more residential properties returned to a state of positive equity during the first quarter of 2013. That brings the total number of mortgaged residential properties with equity to 39 million.

The firm's analysis also shows that 9.7 million -- or 19.8% of all residential properties with a mortgage -- were still in negative equity at the end of the first quarter, with a total value of $580 billion. That's down 21.7%, or 10.5 million, of all residential properties with a mortgage, at the end of the fourth quarter of 2012.

Negative equity, often referred to as “underwater” or “upside down,” means borrowers owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth. Negative equity can occur because of a decline in value, an increase in mortgage debt or a combination of both.

Rising home prices credited

The national aggregate value of negative equity decreased more than $50 billion -- to $580 billion at the end of the first quarter from $631 billion at the end of the fourth quarter of 2012. The drop was driven in large part by an improvement in home prices.

Of the 39 million residential properties with positive equity, 11.2 million have less than 20% equity. Borrowers with less than 20% equity, referred to as “under-equitied,” may have a harder time getting new financing for their homes due to underwriting constraints. At the end of the first quarter of 2013, 2.1 million residential properties had less than 5% equity, referred to as near-negative equity. Properties that are near negative equity are at risk should home prices fall.

Under-equitied mortgages accounted for 23% of all residential properties with a mortgage nationwide in the first quarter of 2013. The average amount of equity for all properties with a mortgage is 32.8%.

“The impressive home price gains of 2012 and the beginning of 2013 have had a big impact on the distribution of residential home equity,” said Dr. Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic. “During the past year, 1.7 million borrowers have regained positive equity. We expect the pent-up supply that falling negative equity releases will moderate price gains in many of the fast-appreciating markets this spring.”

“We are still far below peak home price levels,” notes Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic, “but tight supplies in many areas coupled with continued demand for single family homes should help us close the gap.”

Other findings

  • Nevada had the highest percentage of underwater mortgages at 45.4%, followed by Florida (38.1%), Michigan (32%), Arizona (31.3%) and Georgia (30.5%). These five states combined account for 32.8% of negative equity in the U.S.
  • Of the largest 25 metropolitan areas, Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Fla., had the highest percentage of mortgaged properties in negative equity at 41.1%, followed by Miami-Miami Beach-Kendall, Fla., (40.7%), Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, Ga. (34.5%), Chicago-Joliet-Naperville, Ill. (34.2%), and Warren-Troy-Farmington Hills, Mich (33.6%).
  • Of the total $580 billion in upside down mortgages, first liens without home equity loans accounted for one-half, or $290 billion aggregate negative equity, while first liens with home equity loans accounted for the remaining half at $290 billion.
  • 6.0 million upside-down borrowers hold first liens without home equity loans. The average mortgage balance for this group of borrowers is $211,000. The average underwater amount is $48,000.
  • 3.7 million upside-down borrowers hold both first and second liens. The average mortgage balance for this group of borrowers is $294,000.The average underwater amount is $79,000.
  • The bulk of home equity for mortgaged properties is concentrated at the high end of the housing market. For example, 88% of homes valued at over $200,000 have equity compared with 73% of homes valued under $200,000.
Things are looking better for homeowners who are underwater, keeping in mind that “better” is a relative term. According to property information, analytic...
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Home prices continue to show strength

Average home prices are back at their mid-2003 levels

Home prices showed double-digit increases for the month of March, building on the advances posted during February.

According to the S&P Dow Jones Indices for its S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, the leading measure of U.S. home prices, the 10- and 20-City Composites posted annual increases of 10.3% and 10.9%, respectively, during March.

For the first three months of the year, the 10- and 20-City Composites both posted increases of 1.4%. Charlotte, Los Angeles, Portland, Seattle and Tampa were the five Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA) to record their largest month-over-month gains in over seven years. All 20 cities posted positive year-over-year growth. The national composite rose by 1.2% in the first quarter.

“Home prices continued to climb,” said David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “Home prices in all 20 cities posted annual gains for the third month in a row. Twelve of the 20 saw prices rise at double-digit annual growth. The National Index and the 10- and 20-City Composites posted their highest annual returns since 2006.

Phoenix does it again

Phoenix again had the largest annual increase at 22.5% followed by San Francisco with 22.2% and Las Vegas with 20.6%. Miami and Tampa, the eastern end of the Sunbelt, were softer, but still had annual gains of 10.7% and 11.8%. The weakest annual price gains were seen in New York (+2.6%), Cleveland (+4.8%) and Boston (+6.7%).

“Other housing market data reported in recent weeks confirm these strong trends: housing starts and permits, sales of new home and existing homes continue to trend higher,” said Blitzer. “At the same time, the larger than usual share of multi-family housing, a large number of homes still in some stage of foreclosure and buying-to-rent by investors suggest that the housing recovery is not complete.”

Recouping losses

As of the first quarter of of this year, average home prices across the U.S. are back at their mid-2003 levels. The National Index was up 1.2% over the fourth quarter of 2012 and 10.2% above the first quarter of 2012.

Average home prices across the nation also were back to their late 2003 levels for both the 10-City and 20-City Composites during March. Measured from their June/July 2006 peaks, the peak-to-current decline for both Composites is approximately 28-29%. The recovery from the March 2012 lows is 10.3% and 10.9% for the 10- and 20-City Composites, respectively.

The number of cities that showed monthly gains increased to 15. Denver, Charlotte, Seattle and Washington entered positive territory; Seattle and Charlotte were the most notable with returns of +3.0% and +2.4%. San Francisco posted the highest month-over-month return of 3.9%.

All 20 cities showed increases on an annual basis for at least three consecutive months. Atlanta, Detroit, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, Phoenix, Portland, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle and Tampa all posted double-digit annual returns. Las Vegas, Phoenix and San Francisco were the three MSAs to increase over 20% in March 2013 over March 2012.  

Home prices showed double-digit increases for the month of March after fairly tepid growth during February. According to the S&P Dow Jones Indices for its...
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Five signs the economy is improving

This time, could the economy finally be turning the corner?

Since 2010, we've been down this road several times. The economy shows signs of finally turning the corner, only to fall back to an anemic growth rate.

That could be the case again, but there seem to be five indicators that – in spite of the end of the payroll tax holiday and the federal budget sequester -- the economy is showing real signs of life.

Let's start on Wall Street. The stock market has rallied strongly since January with both the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 both hitting all time highs in May.

Much of the rally can be attributed to the Federal Reserve's policy of pumping money into the economy. But the Fed policy has been consistent for some time now. It's only been this year that stocks have taken off.

Why is this important? Because in past recessions, stocks have been a leading indicator for the overall economy. Investors seem to sense when things are turning around and the market surges about six months before the economy takes off.

Housing market

One of the more impressive recoveries has been in the housing market, which was devastated by the credit crisis, wave of foreclosures and Great Recession. In many housing markets in the U.S., home sales are rapidly rising and so are prices.

In its most recent MarketPulse report, CoreLogic found that the housing market is recovering, but doing so unevenly. The over-bought and beaten-down markets are recovering the fastest.

Most markets have reached consistent price recoveries in only the last year or two, the report finds. But the real estate recovery remains a local event and a shift is occurring.

Previously, it was the low prices of foreclosures and short sales that drove the market. Now it's new home sales. The recovery in that area, the report notes, is acting like a targeted economic stimulus package because it's leading to more construction jobs and sales of building materials.

Auto Sales

The mini-boom in new home construction has led to increased sales of trucks, helping the automotive industry enjoy an even stronger recovery. Auction prices for full-size pickup trucks are up nearly seven percent through the first four months of 2013, according to the NADA Used Car Guide.

"The recovery of home values and increased residential construction, stabilizing gasoline prices and a decline in late-model supply have resulted in higher trade-in values for full-size pickups," said Jonathan Banks, executive automotive analyst for the Guide.

New trucks are also selling well. Sales of the Dodge Ram helped boost Chrysler's April sales 11 percent higher. Ford and GM also had strong April sales. Sales of the Ford Escape rose 52% while GM saw a 28% rise in sales of its Silverado pick-up.

Auto sales have remained consistently strong since the end of the Great Recession, thanks mainly to low interest rates. It's also easier for consumers to borrow money for a car or truck – something that hasn't been true for housing.

Retail Sales

Make no mistake, retail sales – a measure of consumer activity – are  nothing to celebrate. Sales fell in March, with economists chalking it up to the sequester and higher taxes.

But in April, when more of the same was expected, the nation's retailers actually eked out a 0.1% gain. Core retail sales, which exclude cars, gasoline and building materials, were up a much stronger 0.5%.

Since retail sales account for about 30% of what consumers spend, the increase – small as it is – is being viewed as a hopeful sign.

Summer travel

Consumers may be spending more money on vacations this summer. TripAdvisor, a travel site, surveyed 1,200 U.S. consumers and predicts a 30% are planning to travel over the Memorial Day weekend. It also found 86% plan to take a trip during the summer.

Fifty-three percent of those who plan to travel this summer plan to spend the same on their trip this year, while 25% expect to spend more. Travelers are also looking for savings – 71% said they would take a spontaneous trip if they find a last-minute deal.

Despite these positive indicators, not all economists are sold on the idea of a recovery that has finally taken hold. Kathy Bostjancic, Director of Macroeconomic Analysis at The Conference Board, doesn't see a lot of optimism in recent indicators, especially retail sales.

“The combined fiscal drag from the increased payroll tax rate and sequester spending cuts total $225 billion for this year, which offsets the positive wealth effect created by the rise in equity prices and appreciation in home prices over the past year,” she said. “The spring swoon comes after a winter spending spree of which the window of retail opportunity has apparently closed.”

Bostjancic said she wants to see a pick-up of job and income growth in the second half of 2013 before declaring that things are finally getting better.

Since 2010, we've been down this road several times. The economy shows signs of finally turning the corner, only to fall back to an anemic growth rate.Th...
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Home prices continue their rise

Phoenix leads the way, while New York, Boston and Chicago lag

Your home continues to become more valuable.

According to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, a leading measure of U.S. home prices, the 10- and 20-City composites rose 0.4% and 0.3%, respectively. from January to February. In addition, average home prices in the same composites increased 8.6% and 9.3% in the 12 months ending in February 2013.

Phoenix continued to stand out with an impressive year-over-year return of +23.0% while Atlanta and Dallas had the highest annual growth rates in the history of these indices since 1992 and 2001, respectively.

In 16 of the 20 cities, annual growth rates rose from the last month; Detroit, Miami, Minneapolis and Phoenix saw slight annual deceleration ranging from -0.1 to -0.4 percentage points. All 20 cities covered by the indices posted year-over-year increases for at least two consecutive months.

“Home prices continue to show solid increases across all 20 cities,” said David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “The 10- and 20-City Composites recorded their highest annual growth rates since May 2006; seasonally adjusted monthly data show all 20 cities saw higher prices for two months in a row – the last time that happened was in early 2005.

Phoenix, San Francisco, Las Vegas and Atlanta were the four cities with the highest year-over-year price increases, with Atlanta recovering from a wave of foreclosures in 2012 while the other three were among the hardest hit in the housing collapse.

At the other end of the rankings, three older cities -- New York, Boston and Chicago -- saw the smallest year-over-year price improvements.

A bright spot

“Despite some recent mixed economic reports for March, housing continues to be one of the brighter spots in the economy,” Blitzer noted. “The 2013 first quarter GDP report shows that residential investment accelerated from the 2012 fourth quarter and made a positive contribution to growth. One open question is the mix of single family and apartments; housing starts data show a larger than usual share is apartments.”

The number of cities that posted positive monthly changes increased in February. Boston, Dallas, New York, Portland and San Diego are now among the Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA) posting month-over-month gains. Even though eight MSAs posted monthly declines, all twenty cities showed increases when compared to their February 2012 levels.

Atlanta, Detroit, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, Phoenix, San Diego, San Francisco and Tampa were the ten MSAs that continued to report double-digit year-over-year gains. San Diego and Tampa recorded their first months of double-digit annual increases of just over 10.0%.

Your home continues to become more valuable. According to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, a leading measure of U.S. home prices, the 10- and 20-C...
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New home or existing home? Some things to consider

In many area a new home may cost less

When the housing market went into full meltdown mode in 2009, new home builders were hit hard. National and regional builders that had enjoyed explosive growth during the housing boom saw business dry up overnight.

After all, the market was flooded with existing homes, many going for a song. Why buy a new home, which carries very real labor and material costs, when you could pick up an existing home at a bargain basement price? Besides, almost no one was buying a home anyway.

So home building activity came to a screeching halt for a few years. When activity resumed, builders had learned how to be more competitive. The cost per square foot began to fall, to close the gap between new and existing homes.

Over the last 18 months, prices for existing homes have begun to rise in most areas of the country, mainly because of a big drop in the number of available homes. Part of the reason home inventories declined, of course, is because of home builders' inactivity.

New building boom

Consumers rate DR Horton Homes

But now construction crews have gotten busy again, meeting the new demand for homes. And home builders have become profitable again. Late last week home builder D.R. Horton reported second quarter earnings that delighted shareholders – income was up 236%, sales orders rose 34% and sales volume totaled $2 billion.

Company chairman Donald R. Horton cites strong housing demand, plus the fact that the builder is able to deliver a house at an attractive price.

“Our homes sold, closed and in backlog all increased by greater than 30% compared to the year-ago quarter, while the dollar values increased 52%, 47% and 76%, respectively,” he said. “With $250 million in pre-tax income through the first six months of the year, we have already exceeded our pre-tax profits for all of fiscal 2012.”

Consumers shopping for a home may have discovered they can purchase a new home at a lower price than an existing one, when the price is measured on a square footage basis. One reason is the price of land. While home prices have been rising the cost of a land has remained static, or even declined. Some savvy home builders purchased thousands of acres of land at depressed prices in 2009 and 2010 and are now developing it.

Location

Existing homes in metropolitan areas tend to be in well-established communities closer to the city center. Buyers usually have to pay a premium for that. New home communities, on the other hand, tend to be on the outer edges of a metro area. If you are in the market for a home, and are trying to decide between existing and new, location is a very important consideration. But here are some other things to think about.

You'll find a big difference in the design and layout of most new and existing homes. New homes tend to reflect modern tastes and trends. Kitchens, for example, are large and functional. New homes have lots of storage space.

Older homes, depending on exactly how old, usually have smaller rooms and less storage. Kitchens are usually smaller, built to be functional food preparation areas, not gourmet and entertaining showplaces.

Design

Most new homes offer a large and spacious master bedroom suite, with adjoining bathroom that often includes both a spa tub and walk-in shower. Existing homes, especially if they were built in the 1940s or earlier, might feature design details not found in most modern construction.

With an existing home, you pretty much know what you're getting. If there were problems with the house, they probably were addressed long ago. With a new home, you will be the one discovering a problem, if there is one. That's why it's very important to check out a builder before you buy.

A new home is likely to be in a subdivision or development that carries a homeowners association fee. It might be a small annual assessment or might be more, depending on the common area and amenities.

For example, if the community has a pool and fitness center, it can cost quite a bit to maintain them. Many existing homes are in mature neighborhoods that have no fee, although some do.

According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the choice between a new or existing home will involve trade-offs, requiring you to think about what is most important to you. In the end, the choice should come down to the home you think best meets your needs, as well as your budget.

When the housing market went into full meltdown mode in 2009, new home builders were hit hard. National and regional builders that had enjoyed explosive gr...
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Pace of new home sales picks up in March

Home prices were on the rise as well

Sales of new single-family homes picked up a little steam in March.

Government figures show sales last month were up 1.5% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 417,000. That's a bit shy of the Briefing.com forecast of 415,000, but better than the February rate of 411,00. It's also well below the January peak of 445,000 homes sold.

The median sales price of new houses sold in March 2013 was $247,000 -- up 3% from the same time a year ago. The medial means half cost more and half cost less. The average sales price was $279,900.

The complete report can be found at the Commerce Department website.

Housing price index

In a separate report, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) reports its monthly House

Price Index (HPI) rose 0.7% from January to February. And for the 12 months ending in February, prices of homes shot up rose 7.1%.

Still, the HPI is down 13.6% from its April 2007 peak and is roughly the same as the October 2004 index level. Housing prices have not declined on a monthly basis since January 2012.

The nation's nine census divisions saw monthly price changes from January to February ranging from -0.6% in the Middle Atlantic region to +1.7% in the South Atlantic. The changes over 12 months ranged from +1.9% in the Middle Atlantic to +15.3% in the Pacific division.

Sales of new single-family homes picked up a little steam in March. Government figures show sales last month were up 1.5% to a seasonally adjusted annual...
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Home affordability may be in jeopardy

Rising home prices and stagnating wages are not a good combination

Just when you thought you might finally be able to buy that new home, or sell your old one, here comes a dose of reality

With wages dropping or stagnating, homes have gotten more expensive in many areas -- a result of the rebounding real estate market, according to Zillow, an online real estate marketplace.

Before the housing bubble, home buyers spent 2.6 times their median annual income -- on average -- on the purchase price of a typical home. However, through the end of last year, buyers across the country were spending three times their annual incomes. In other words, consumers bought homes that were 14.5% more expensive relative to their incomes than during the pre-bubble period.

Shelling out more

Homeowners in 24 of the 30 largest metros covered by Zillow were paying more for homes in the fourth quarter of 2012 relative to their region's median income than they were from 1985 through 1999. Metros with the largest difference between their pre-bubble and fourth quarter 2012 price-income ratios included San Jose (52.1% more), Los Angeles (48.8% more), Portland, Ore., (45.4% more), San Diego (44.6% more) and Denver (40.8% more).

Of the 30 largest metros covered by Zillow, only Cincinnati (3.1% less), Chicago (3.9% less), Cleveland (6.7% less), Atlanta (13.9% less), Las Vegas (14.6% less) and Detroit (25.5% less) posted price-income ratios in the fourth quarter of 2012 that were less than historic norms.

Rate-dependent

"The days of historically high levels of housing affordability are numbered," said Zillow Chief Economist Stan Humphries. "Current affordability is almost entirely dependent on low interest rates, and there's no doubt that rates will begin to rise in the next few years. This will have an undeniable effect on demand for housing, as home buyers will have to spend more of their incomes to buy a home.

Humphries says home values will have to either remain stagnant while incomes catch up or -- quite possibly -- home values will have to fall in some markets. “This will especially be the case,” he adds, “in some markets that have seen strong home value appreciation.”

Just when you thought you might finally be able to buy that new home, here comes a dose of reality With wages dropping or stagnating, homes have gotten mo...
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New home sales slip in February

Home prices, on the other hand, moved higher

A little slack is showing up in the sales of new homes.

Figures released by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

show sales of new single-family houses totaled 411,000 units in February -- down 4.6% from the revised January rate of 431,000. The January rate was initially reported at 437,000.

Even with the decline, the February rate is 12.3% above the year-ago estimate of 366,000 and topped the 400,000 projected by forecasters at Briefing.com.

Home prices rise

The median sales price of new houses sold in February 2013 was $246,800 -- up $7,000 from the month before. The average sales price was $313,700 -- a gain of $18,500 from January.

Regarding home prices, The S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices -- released earlier in the day -- showed the increase in home prices in the year ending in January was the highest since the housing bubble burst.

The seasonally adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of February was 152,000 -- a supply of 4.4 months at the current sales rate.

A little slack is showing up in the sales of new homes. Figures released by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development sho...
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The rise in home prices continued in January

The increase was the highest since the housing bubble burst

The upward momentum in home prices continued in January.

The S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices -- the leading measure of U.S. home prices -- showed average home prices increased 7.3% for the 10-City Composite and 8.1% for the 20-City Composite in the 12 months ending in January 2013.

All 20 cities posted year-over-year gains with Phoenix leading the way with a gain of 23.2%. Nineteen of the twenty cities showed acceleration in their year-over-year returns. Despite posting a positive double-digit annual return, Detroit was the only city to show a deceleration. After 28 months of negative annual returns, New York came into positive territory in January.

Best showing in nearly seven years

“The two headline composites posted their highest year-over-year increases since summer 2006,” said David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “This marks the highest increase since the housing bubble burst.”

After more than two years of consecutive year-over-year declines, New York reversed trend and posted a positive return in January. The Southwest (Phoenix and Las Vegas) plus San Francisco posted the highest annual increases; they were also among the hardest hit by the housing bust. Atlanta and Dallas recorded their highest year-over-year gains.

“Economic data continues to support the housing recovery,” Blitzer continued. “Single-family home building permits and housing starts posted double-digit year-over-year increases in February 2013. Despite a slight uptick in foreclosure filings, numbers are still down 25% year-over-year. Steady employment and low borrowing rates pushed inventories down to their lowest post-recession levels.”

In January 2013, nine cities -- Atlanta, Charlotte, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Phoenix, San Francisco and Tampa -- and both Composites posted positive monthly returns. Dallas was the only Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) where the level remained flat.

In terms of annual rates of change, all 20 cities as well as both Composites posted positive change. Atlanta, Detroit, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, Phoenix and San Francisco were the eight MSAs to report double-digit annual returns.  

The upward momentum in home prices continued in January. The S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices -- the leading measure of U.S. home prices -- showed aver...
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Housing continues to be an economic bright spot

Existing home sales and prices continued to rise in February

What many analysts see as the healthy recovering in the housing sector of the economy continued in February.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reports both sales and prices of previously-owned homes rose last month. Sales have now been above year-ago levels for 20 consecutive months, while prices show 12 straight months of year-over-year price increases.

February sales

Existing-home sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, rose 0.8% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.98 million in February, and are 10.2% above the 4.52 million-unit level seen a year earlier. Sales in February were at the highest level since the tax credit period of November 2009.

"Job growth in the improving economy and pent-up demand are causing both home sales and rental leasing to rise,” said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “Though home prices are rising much faster than rents, historically low mortgage rates are still making home purchases affordable."

Yun says the only headwinds are limited housing inventory, which varies greatly around the country, and credit conditions that he believes remain too restrictive. Total housing inventory at the end of February rose 9.6% -- to 1.94 million existing homes available for sale. That represents a 4.7-month supply at the current sales pace, compared with 4.3 months in January, which was the lowest supply since May 2005. Listed inventory is 19.2 percent below a year ago when there was a 6.4-month supply.

February prices

The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $173,600 in February, up 11.6% from a year ago. The last time there were 12 consecutive months of year-over-year price increases was from June 2005 to May 2006. The February gain is the strongest since November 2005 when it was 12.9 percent above a year earlier.

"A strong rise in home values is contributing to housing wealth recovery, which has risen by $1.4 trillion in the past year and looks to top that increase this year," Yun said. "The extra consumer spending arising from growth in housing wealth is expected to be $70 billion to $110 billion this year."

Separately, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) reports home prices rose 0.6% from December to January, while the previously reported 0.6% increase in December was revised downward to a 0.5% increase. For the 12 months ending in January, prices were up 6.5%.

The agency's House Price Index is 14.4% below its April 2007 peak and is roughly the same

as the September 2004 index level. National home prices have not declined on a monthly basis

since January 2012.

Jobless claims

In other economic news, the Labor Department says first-time claims for unemployment benefits rose by 2,000 last week -- to a seasonally adjusted total of 336,000.

The four week moving average, which is less volatile and considered a more accurate gauge of the labor market, was 339,750 -- a decrease of 7,500 from the previous week's revised average of 347,250.

What many analysts see as the healthy recovering in the housing sector of the economy continued in February. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) re...
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New home sales soar in January

In addition, the past year was a good one for home prices

New home sales got off to a roaring start for 2013 as prices wrapped up a strong 2012.

According to a joint report from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, sales of new single-family houses shot up 15.6 percent in January to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 437,000. That rate is 28.9 percent above the same period a year ago.

Regional sales

The advances was broad-based, with every region of the country posting gains.

The West led the way, with sales up 45.3 percent. The Northeast posted a gain of 27.6 percent, followed by the Midwest with an advance of 11.1 percent and the South edging up 3.2 percent

The median sales price of new houses sold in January rose to $226,400 from $221,700 a year earlier. The average sales price was $286,300, compared with $265,700 in January 2012.

The seasonally adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of January was 150,000 – representing a supply of 4.1 months at the current sales rate.

A strong 2012 for prices

A leading measure of U.S. home prices ended last year with strong gains.

The S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price national composite posted an increase of 7.3 percent for 2012. The 10- and 20-City Composites reported annual returns of 5.9 percent and 6.8 percent, respectively. Month-over-month, both the 10- and 20-City Composites moved into positive territory in December with gains of 0.2 percent more than reversing November’s losses.

In addition to the three composites, nineteen of the 20 MSAs posted positive year-over-year growth – only New York fell.

“Home prices ended 2012 with solid gains,” said David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “Housing and residential construction led the economy in the 2012 fourth quarter. In December’s report all three headline composites and 19 of the 20 cities gained over their levels of a year ago. Month-over-month, nine cities and both Composites posted positive monthly gains. Seasonally adjusted, there were no monthly declines across all 20 cities."

New home sales got off to a roaring start for 2013 as prices wrapped up a strong 2012. According to a joint report from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Dep...
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Another strong quarter for U.S. housing prices

Prices were up another 1.4 percent in the final three months of 2012

What is probably your biggest investment is worth a little more these days

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) reports house prices rose 1.4 percent from the third quarter to the fourth quarter of 2012. The agency's seasonally adjusted purchase-only house price index HPI is calculated using home sales price information from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgages.

Seasonally adjusted house prices rose 5.5 percent from the fourth quarter of 2011 to the fourth quarter of 2012 and the seasonally adjusted monthly index for December was up 0.6 percent from November.

A strong quarter

“The fourth quarter was another strong one for house prices, as it was the third consecutive quarter where U.S. price growth exceeded one percent,” said FHFA Principal Economist Andrew Leventis. “While a significant number of homes remained in the foreclosure pipeline, the actual number of homes available for sale was very low and fell over the course of the quarter.”

While the national, purchase-only house price index rose 5.5 percent from the fourth quarter of 2011 to the fourth quarter of 2012, prices of other goods and services rose 1.7 percent over the same period. Accordingly, the inflation-adjusted price of homes rose approximately 3.7 percent over the latest year.

The FHFA report also found:

  • The seasonally adjusted purchase-only HPI rose in the fourth quarter in 38 states and the District of Columbia.
  • Of the nine census divisions, the Pacific division experienced the strongest increase in the latest quarter, posting a 4.2 percent price increase. House prices were weakest in the East North Central division, where prices remained unchanged from the prior quarter.
  • As measured with purchase-only indexes for the 25 most populated metropolitan areas in the U.S., fourth quarter price increases were greatest in the Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale, AZ, Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). That area saw prices increase by 6.8 percent between the third and fourth quarters. Prices were weakest in the Edison-New Brunswick, NJ, metropolitan division, where they fell 0.8 percent over that period.
  • The monthly seasonally adjusted purchase-only index for the U.S. has increased for 11 consecutive months.
  • FHFA’s new “distress-free” house price index suggests that price gains in the latest quarter may be partially attributed to decreases in the share of distressed sales in the latest quarter. For 9 of the 12 metropolitan areas covered by the new set of indexes, the distress-free measures -- which remove the direct effect of short sales and sales of bank-owned properties -- showed more modest price gains than were evident in the traditional purchase-only indexes.
What is probably your biggest investment is worth a little more these days The Federal Housing Finance Agency’s (FHFA) reports house prices rose 1.4 perce...
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Home prices up again in December

The CoreLogic Home Price Index was up for a tenth straight month

If you're looking to sell your home, the times appear right.

Home prices nationwide -- including distressed sales -- shot up by 8.3 percent in December from the same month a year ago. The change in the CoreLogic Home Price Index (HPI) represents the biggest increase since May 2006 and the 10th consecutive monthly increase in home prices nationally.

On a month-over-month basis -- including distressed sales -- home prices increased by 0.4 percent in December 2012 from November. The HPI analysis shows that all but four states are experiencing year-over-year price gains.

Excluding distressed sales, home prices increased 7.5 percent in December from December 2011. On a month-over-month basis -- excluding distressed sales -- home prices inched up 0.9 percent in December from November 2012. Distressed sales include short sales and real estate owned (REO) transactions.

More increases ahead

The CoreLogic Pending HPI indicates that January 2013 home prices, including distressed sales, are expected to rise by 7.9 percent on a year-over-year basis from January 2012 and fall by one percent on a month-over-month basis from December 2012, reflecting a seasonal winter slowdown.

Excluding distressed sales, January 2013 house prices are poised to rise 8.6 percent year over year from January 2012 and by 0.7 percent month over month from December 2012.

“December marked 10 consecutive months of year-over-year home price improvements, and the strongest growth since the height of the last housing boom more than six years ago,” said Mark Feming, chief economist for CoreLogic. “We expect price growth to continue in January as our Pending HPI shows strong year-over-year appreciation.”

“We are heading into 2013 with home prices on the rebound,” said Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic. “The upward trend in home prices in 2012 was broad based with 46 of 50 states registering gains for the year. All signals point to a continued improvement in the fundamentals underpinning the U.S. housing market recovery.”

Highlights as of December 2012

  • Including distressed sales, the five states with the highest home price appreciation were: Arizona (+20.2 percent), Nevada (+15.3 percent), Idaho (+14.6 percent), California (+12.6 percent) and Hawaii (+12.5 percent).
  • Including distressed sales, this month only four states posted home price depreciation: Delaware (-3.4 percent), Illinois (-2.7 percent), New Jersey (-0.9 percent) and Pennsylvania (-0.5 percent).
  • Excluding distressed sales, the five states with the highest home price appreciation were: Arizona (+16.4 percent), Nevada (+14.7 percent), California (+12.8 percent), Hawaii (+11.7 percent) and North Dakota (+10.8 percent).
  • Excluding distressed sales, this month only three states posted home price depreciation: Delaware (-1.9 percent), Alabama (-1.0 percent) and New Jersey (-0.5 percent).
  • Including distressed transactions, the peak-to-current change in the national HPI (from April 2006 to December 2012) was -26.9 percent. Excluding distressed transactions, the peak-to-current change in the HPI for the same period was -20.8 percent.
  • The five states with the largest peak-to-current declines, including distressed transactions, were Nevada (-52.4 percent), Florida (-43.5 percent), Arizona (-39.8 percent), Michigan (-36.5 percent) and California (-35.4 percent).
  • Of the top 100 Core Based Statistical Areas (CBSAs) measured by population, only 16 are showing year-over-year declines in November -- two fewer than in November.

The CoreLogic Pending HPI is a proprietary and exclusive metric that provides the most current indication of trends in home prices. It is based on Multiple Listing Service (MLS) data that measure price changes for the most recent month.

If you're looking to sell your home, the times appear right. Home prices nationwide -- including distressed sales -- shot up by 8.3 percent in December f...
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Home Prices Dip in September

But they are up a healthy five percent from September 2011

Home prices went down slightly on a national basis last month, but mainly because more distressed properties were sold. The latest report from CoreLogic shows the average price dipped by 0.3 percent from August.

Still, when you analyze home prices over the last 12 months September's results are up a robust five percent over September 2011, suggesting that the housing market is slowly recovering. The Home Price Index (HPI) analysis from CoreLogic shows that all but seven states are experiencing year-over-year price gains.

Better than expected

“Home price improvement nationally continues to outpace our expectations, growing five percent year-over-year in September -- the best showing since July 2006,” said Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic. “While prices on a month-over-month basis are declining, as expected in the housing off-season, most states are exhibiting price increases. Gains are particularly large in former housing bubble states and energy-industry concentrated states."

That's another bullish indicator for the housing market, as once devastated metros begin to experience healthy price appreciation. The forecast is also fairly bullish.

The CoreLogic Pending HPI indicates that October 2012 home prices, including distressed sales, are expected to rise by 5.7 percent on a year-over-year basis from October 2011 and fall by 0.5 percent on a month-over-month basis from September 2012 as sales exhibit a seasonal slowdown going into the winter.

Without including distressed sales, CoreLogic predicts October 2012 house prices will rise 6.3 percent year-over-year from October 2011 and by 0.2 percent month-over-month from September 2012.

Better market fundamentals

“Home prices are responding to better market fundamentals, such as reduced inventories and improved buyer demand,” said Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic. “So far this year, we’re seeing clear signs of stabilization and improvement that show promise for a gradual recovery in the residential housing market.”

What is significant about the housing recovery is its organic nature. Since 2010 there have been no government incentives, such as the first-time buyer's tax credit, to boost sales. Sales and prices have increased largely in spite of much tougher lending standards that have prevented many buyers from qualifying for a mortgage.

In September, the five states with the highest home price appreciation are Arizona, Idaho, Nevada, Hawaii and Utah. Prices are still falling, however, in Rhode Island, Illinois, New Jersey, Alabama and Delaware.

Home prices went down slightly on a national basis last month, but mainly because more distressed properties were sold. The latest report from CoreLogic sh...
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Homes Selling Faster and for Higher Prices

A huge drop in inventory may be helping the market recover

Two pieces of data in the latest Real-Time Home Price Tracker from real estate firm Redfin point to continued improvement in the housing market.

Homes are spending less time on the market and when they sell, they are going for higher prices. The latest report shows the percentage of homes selling within 14 days of their listing was 27.6 percent in August, compared with 26.7 percent in July.

In the 19 major real estate markets Redfin monitors, prices were up five percent over August 2001.

Fewer homes for sale

A third piece of data may point to the reasons prices are up and time on the market is down. The number of homes for sale continues to decline. Inventory plunged 28.5 percent year-over-year and was down 4.5 percent from July.

With fewer homes to choose from, a classic supply and demand dynamic comes into play. In some markets homes have gone for more than the asking price because of multiple contracts. In the early days of the housing crunch there was a huge inventory of homes, helping to depress sales and prices.

"In our business, Redfin saw a monster surge in August closings," said Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman. "While September now seems likely to be down nearly 20 percent from August's peak, we were surprised after Labor Day to see a relatively large number of new customers begin touring homes for the first time, which has given us reason to be optimistic about the rest of the fall and even the year ahead.”

Why aren't there more sellers?

While housing demand appears to be picking up, there has not been a corresponding increase in sellers. Kelman says he thinks many homeowners sense the market is turning and are holding out for more price gains in the coming year.

Another reason is that many homeowners who bought at the top of the housing bubble are still “underwater,” owing more on their mortgage than their home is worth. They might like to sell, but can't without taking a huge loss.

In the August report, Phoenix had the highest gain in home prices, with the average rising 31 percent year-over-year. Chicago, which has been hard hit by foreclosures, had the worst showing with the average price dropping four percent.

The top six fastest-selling markets are all in California:San Jose, San Francisco, Ventura, Inland Empire, San Diego, and Los Angeles. Boston is the slowest-selling market.

  Two pieces of data in the latest Real-Time Home Price Tracker from real estate firm Redfin point to continued improvement in the housing ma...
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July Home Prices Rise 3.8 Percent

Year-over-year increase is largest in six years

Even when distressed sales, such as foreclosures, are included the average U.S. home price is rising, showing a steady increase that began earlier this year.

The national average price of a U.S. home rose 3.8 percent in July, when compared to July 2011, according to CoreLogic, a provider of information, analytics and business services. It's the biggest year-over-year increase since August 2006, the peak of the housing bubble.

Even on a monthly basis prices were higher -- up 1.3 percent from June. The company sees it as part of a solid trend. It projects that year-over-year prices will be up 4.3 percent in August.

Positive trajectory

“The housing market continues its positive trajectory with significant price gains in July and our expectation of a further increase in August,” said Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic. “While the pace of growth is moderating as we transition to the off-season for home buying, we expect a positive gain in price levels for the full year.”

Housing, as you recall, has been one of the major economic drags of the Great Recession. With a tsunami of foreclosures, triggered by increasingly lax lending standards, home values tumbled nationwide -- more in some markets than in others.

States where prices escalated the most, such as Nevada, Arizona, California and Florida, the collapse was the most pronounced. Now, even in the hardest hit states prices are beginning to creep higher.

Light at the end of the tunnel

“Although we expect some slowing in price gains over the balance of 2012, we are clearly seeing the light at the end of a very long tunnel,” said Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic.

Even accounting for distressed sales, the five states with the highest appreciation were: Arizona, where prices gained 16.6 percent; Idaho, with a 10.0 percent gain; Utah, with an increase of 9.3 percent; South Dakota, which saw prices rise 8.3 percent; and Colorado, where the average home price increased 7.3 percent.

Delaware, Alabama, Rhode Island, Connecticut and Illinois experienced the largest declines in average home value, but none more than five percent.

Despite the steady recovery, homeowners in the hardest hit states will have a long way to go before recovering their lost equity. The coreLogic numbers show the average home price in Nevada is still 56 percent below its bubble peak while Florida and Arizona are down 44.2 percent and 42.8 percent respectively.

Even when distressed sales, such as foreclosures, are included the average home price is rising, showing a steady increase that began earlier this year.T...
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Could Housing Be Economy's One Bright Spot?

Housing data keeps improving while other indicators fall

There are plenty of things to worry about in the economy. Unemployment is still over eight percent, corporations are warnings earnings might suffer, and Europe's debt problems could still derail any recovery.

But despite all that, there continues to be evidence of a recovering housing market. Sales figures have slowly climbed and, more hopeful to economists, prices are also slowly going up.

Business data service CoreLogicc has released its May Home Price Index (HPI) showing nationwide home prices, including distressed sales, increased on a year-over-year basis by 2.0 percent in May compared to May 2011.

On a month-over-month basis, home prices, including distressed sales, also increased by 1.8 percent in May compared to April. The May 2012 figures mark the third consecutive increase in home prices nationwide on both a year-over-year and month-over-month basis.

Big economic driver

Why is that important? Falling home values have trapped many homeowners in “under water” situations, meaning they owe more than the home is worth. Buyers have been reluctant to buy and lenders have been reluctant to lend as long as prices have been falling.

Now that home prices appear to have stopped falling, conditions may allow the housing market to recover which could provide a lift to the overall economy.

“The recent upward trend in U.S. home prices is an encouraging signal that we may be seeing a bottoming of the housing down cycle,” said Anand Nallathambi, president and chief executive officer of CoreLogic. “Tighter inventory is contributing to broad, but modest, price gains nationwide and more significant gains in the harder-hit markets, like Phoenix.”

Fewer homes for sale

In fact, May's existing home sales were slightly lower from April in part, according to the National Association of Realtors, because there were not that many homes for sale. For years the supply of homes for sale has vastly outnumbered the demand. Now, the data shows that dynamic has shifted.

Excluding distressed sales, home prices nationwide increased on a year-over-year basis by 2.7 percent in May 2012 compared to May 2011. On a month-over-month basis excluding distressed sales, the CoreLogic HPI indicates home prices increased 2.3 percent in May 2012 compared to April 2012, the fourth month-over-month increase in a row.

Distressed sales include short sales and real estate owned (REO) transactions.

Organic increase

Best of all, say analysts, the increase in prices has been organic, not fostered by subsidies such as the recent Home Buyer's Tax Credit. The increase has occurred in spite of banks' much tighter lending standards. And lest you worry that we'll return to the crazy days of the housing bubble, the price increases are occurring for homes on the lower end of the price scale.

“Home price appreciation in the lower-priced segment of the market is rebounding more quickly than in the upper end,” said Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic. “Home prices below 75 percent of the national median increased 5.7 percent from a year ago, compared to only a 1.8 percent increase for prices 125 percent or more of the median.”

The five states with the highest appreciation were: Arizona, up 12.0 percent; Idaho up 9.2 percent; South Dakota up 8.7 percent; Montana up 8.2 percent, and Michigan up 7.9 percent. Arizona and Michigan were among the states hardest hit by the housing collapse.

There are plenty of things to worry about in the economy. Unemployment is still over eight percent, corporations are warnings earnings might suffer, and Eu...
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Home Prices Edge Higher in April

coreLogic finds the market is rebounding in hard-hit states

It may not mean the value of your house has gone up, but for the second straight month, the value of the average U.S. home rose in April, according to a report from coreLogic, a provider of information, analytics and business services.

On a year-over-year basis, home prices, including distress sales, rose 1.1 percent. On a month-over-month basis, home prices were up twice as much, 2.2. percent.

When you take distress sales out of the equatin, prices were up 2.6 percent in April 2012 compared to March 2012, the third month-over-month increase in a row.

"We see the consistent month-over-month increases within our Home Price Index (HPI) and Pending HPI as one sign that the housing market is stabilizing," said Anand Nallathambi, president and chief executive officer of CoreLogic. "Home prices are responding to a restricted supply that will likely exist for some time to come—an optimistic sign for the future of our industry."

Nallathambi says if it were not for distressed properties dragging down the average sale price, home values would be improving at the strongest rate since 2006, at the height of the housing bubble. It's being aided by a decline in the number of homes available for purchase.

Fewer homes for sale

"Nationally, the supply of homes in current inventory is down to 6.5 months, a level not seen in more than five years, in part driven by the 'locked in' position of so many homeowners in negative equity," Nallathambi said.

In other words, some people who would like to sell their homes don't even try since they owe more than the home is worth.

Whether the value of your home rose all depends on where you live. Arizona, one of the hardest hit real estate markets, led the nation in April with an 8.8 increase in the average home value.

The District of Columbia, which never really lost much of its value, was second as the average home added 6.4 percent to its value. Florida saw its average home gain 5.5 percent, and Utah and Montana 5.4 percent each.

It may not mean the value of your house has gone up, but for the second straight month, the value of the average U.S. home rose in April, according to a re...
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