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 Real Estate Blog 
Wednesday, November 30 2011
New-home sales for single-family homes rose 1.3 percent in October, marking the best pace for new-home sales activity since this May, the U.S. Commerce Department reports.

Following the sector’s worst year for new-home activity on record last year, several recent reports are suggesting a pick-up in new construction.

"Builders have been seeing some marginal improvement in sales activity over the past few months, particularly in select markets where consumer confidence is higher due to improved economic conditions," Bob Nielsen, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders, said in a statement. "While this trend is encouraging, overall sales activity is still well below normal due to the effects of overly tight credit conditions for builders and buyers, the continued flow of distressed properties on the market, and inaccurate appraisal values on new homes."

Despite the October gain in sales, new-home sales for the month were at an annual rate of 307,000--still less than half the 700,000 in sales that most economists consider healthy for the housing market.

A Regional Look

A break down of sales by region in October:

  • Midwest: Rose 22.2 percent
  • West: Rose 14.9 percent
  • Northeast: Stayed flat
  • South: Declined 9.5 percent

Inventory Drops Drastically

Nationwide, the inventory of new homes for sale stayed at an all-time record low of 162,000 units in October.

"Particularly encouraging is the fact that builders continue to hold down their inventories to match the current sales rate, with the number of new homes for sale now down to a sustainable, 6.3-month supply," NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe said in a statement.

By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine Daily News

Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, August 09 2010

Pundits warn of a new housing crash after a tiny number of people signed contracts to buy homes in June, according to the Pending Home Sales Index kept by the National Association of Realtors.

The seasonally-adjusted Index sank to 75.7 in June. That's down slightly from May, and down steeply from April and March, when buyers rushed to take advantage of the federal homebuyer tax credit.

"Hell has broken loose all over again in real estate. Don't buy a home. Sell one," said commentator Michael David White at

However, if you look closely at the numbers, the Pending Home Sales report seems less like a sign of impending doom and more like all the other economic headlines you've been reading, pointing to continued weakness and a wimpy recovery.

The Pending Home Sales numbers have a big problem: The index is adjusted downward by U.S. Census officials to account for the usual summertime rush to buy homes -- but economists at Standard & Poor's point out that extremes of the last three years have made a mess of the math behind seasonal adjustments.

To really see what is going on, ignore the seasonal adjustment and focus on comparing this year's unadjusted index with last year's. This year, without the seasonal adjustment, the Pending Home Sales Index peaked just before the tax credit deadline at a stunning 133.4 in April, up 24 percent from the year before. In June, without the adjustment, the index crashed back to 92.9, down 20 percent from the year before. Taking together, the springtime boom and and the summertime bust add up to a very slight overall improvement.

Hardly a crash -- but hardly great news. Of course, to crash an object generally needs to be moving. For example, it's hard to crash a parked car. Our housing market has been stalled for the last year. Sure, home prices have risen slightly over the past 12 months. But the increase is small -- 4.6 percent as of May, according to the latest Case-Shiller 20-City Index.

That increase only looks steep to people who expected values to drop. And most of the increase happened last summer, when it still seemed slightly possible that the economy might come roaring back to life. Home prices have been more or less flat for the last seven months, according to Case-Shiller.

Pessimists like White say foreclosures will strike our stalled housing market and force prices down so steeply that you should sell your home right now -- before it's too late.

But foreclosure actions already have been striking continuously for the last year, at record rates of roughly a third of a million a month, according to research firm RealtyTrac. That's so high that it begins to strain credibility and common sense to claim that the rate can get tremendously worse. For the rate to double, there would have to be well over 600,000 foreclosure actions a month. Barring some unexpected new economic apocalypse -- in addition to all the bad news we've already suffered through -- that's not going to happen.

Instead, the consensus among economists is that the housing market will continue more or less as it has been, as record-high foreclosures and a weak-but-stabilizing job market square off against historically low interest rates, to keep home prices treading water.

Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
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