South Orange County Blog from Bob Phillips

Existing Home Sales Move Higher In October

Posted in Housing Analysis by southorangecounty on November 21, 2012

Existing Home Sales October 2012After a small decline in September, Existing Home Sales rebounded in October, increasing a modest 2.1%.

The housing market’s slow, steady recovery continues as sales volume in all four regions expanded last month with the exception of the Hurricane Sandy-affected Northeast.

The National Association of REALTORS® monthly Existing Home Sales Report comprises completed sales of single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums, and co-ops. The Existing Home Sales report is compiled on a seasonally-adjusted, annualized basis. It shows a 10.9 percent sales increase as compared last year.

Sales volume might otherwise be higher, however, if not for a lack of homes for sale.

Total housing inventory fell 1.4 percent to 2.14 million homes last month which, at the current sales pace, represents a 5.4-month national supply — the lowest in more than 6 years.

The lack of supply amid burgeoning demand has led home prices higher nationwide. October’s median existing home sale price was $178,600 — an 11.1% increase from October 2011 and the eighth consecutive month during which the median sales price rose.

The last time that occurred was during the eight months ending May 2006.

In addition, the Existing Home Sales report showed that the median time on market in October rose to 71 days, up 1 day from September 2012. As compared to October 2011, however, median time on market is down 26% from 96 days.

Other noteworthy statistics from the October Existing Home Sales report include : 

  • Foreclosures and short sales accounted for 24% of sales
  • Foreclosures sold for an average discount of 20% to market
  • Short sales sold for an average discount of 14% to market

Furthermore, thirty-two percent of homes sold in October were on the market for less than one month. 20% were on the market for six months or longer.

Record-low mortgage interest rates continue to spur housing, as do low prices. Neither will last indefinitely. If you plan to purchase a home in South Orange County in 2013, therefore, consider moving up your time frame. Home ownership will likely increase in cost as the year moves on.

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Home Supplies Drop To Multi-Year Low

Posted in Housing Analysis by southorangecounty on October 24, 2012

Existing Home Supply drops to 5.9 months

As the third quarter closed, home resales showed considerable momentum nationwide.

The National Association of REALTORS® reports Existing Home Sales at 4.75 million units in September 2012 on a seasonally-adjusted, annualized basis, an 11 percent increase from one year ago.

An “existing home” is a home that’s been previously occupied; a resale.

The reading marks the second-highest tally of the year — second only to August 2012 when 4.83 million homes were sold on a seasonally-adjusted, annualized basis. The real estate trade association reports that there are now just 2.32 million previously-occupied homes for sale nationwide.

It’s the thinnest national home supply since March 2005 and, at today’s sales pace, all 2.32 million homes would sell in 5.9 months.

A 6.0-month home supply is thought to represent a market in balance. September’s home supply, therefore, suggests a market which favors sellers. Buyers in many U.S. markets may have noticed this shift. Multiple-offer situations are increasingly common and “right-priced” homes are selling quickly.

The median Time on Market is down 31 percent from last year to 70 days nationwide.

Meanwhile, for purchasers of foreclosures and short sales, September Existing Home Sales report included interesting data on the relative value of buying “distressed” property :

  • Foreclosures sold at an average discount of 21% to market value last month
  • Short sales sold at an average discount of 13% to market value last month

And, although distressed homes remain a large part of the U.S. housing market, their relative size is shrinking.

In September, foreclosures and short sales accounted for roughly 1 in 4 home sales. Earlier this year, that figure was 1 in 3.

For today’s South Orange County home buyer, September’s Existing Home Sales report may be a “buy signal”. With home supplies down and demand for homes rising, home prices are poised to increase through the last three months of 2012 and into the start 2013.

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Existing Home Sales Leap To 2-Year High

Posted in Housing Analysis by southorangecounty on September 25, 2012

Existing Home Sales By Price Tier, August 2012

The home resale market put forth another strong data set last week. Home sales prices are higher nationwide and sales volume has moved to a 2-year high.

According to the National Association of REALTORS®, 4.82 million “existing homes” sold on a seasonally-adjusted, annualized basis in August, representing a near 8 percent improvement from the month prior and a nine percent jump from August 2011.

An existing home is a home which has been previously occupied.

Home sales were unevenly split across price tiers, with more than half of all homes selling for less than $250,000. This suggests that the first-time home buyers and real estate investors continue to be active in today’s market as a foundation for growth is built.

According to the Existing Home Sales data :

  • First-time buyers accounted for 31% of all home sales
  • Real estate investors accounted for 18% of all home sales
  • Other, repeat buyers accounted for 51% of all home sales

Also noteworthy is that “distressed homes” accounted for the smallest percentage of overall home sales since the real estate trade group starting tracking such data.

In August, homes in various stages of foreclosures accounted for 12% of all sales and sold at an average discount of 19 percent below market value. Short sale homes accounted for 10% of all sales and sold at an average discount of 13 percent below market value.

Of all the data in the August Existing Home Sales report, though, perhaps most relevant to today’s buyers is the shrinking national housing supply.

At August’s end, there were 2.47 million homes listed for sale nationwide, a three percent increase from the month prior. However, because the pool of available home buyers is increasing more rapidly than the number of homes for sale, housing supplies fell 0.3 months to 6.1 months.

This means that at the current pace of sales, the entire housing supply would be sold by March 2013.

For today’s home buyers, home affordability appears poised to worsen. Mortgage rates and home prices remain low today, but market conditions like these rarely last long. Talk to your real estate agent about what options you have ahead of you. 2012 is coming to a close.

By 2013, the housing recovery may be fully underway. 

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week : September 17, 2012

Posted in mortgage-rates-whats-ahead-september-17-2012 by southorangecounty on September 17, 2012

Fed Funds Rate 2006-2012Mortgage markets improved last week as the Federal Reserve introduced new economic stimulus. The move trumped bond-harming action from the Eurozone, and a series better-than-expected U.S. economic data.

The 30-year fixed rate mortgage rate dropped last week for most loan types, including for conforming, FHA and VA loans. 15-year fixed rate mortgage rates improved, as well.

Mortgage rates are back near their lowest levels of all-time.

Last week’s main event was the Federal Open Market Committee’s sixth scheduled meeting of 2012. Wall Street expected the Fed to launch a third round of quantitative easing (QE3) after its meeting and the nation’s central banker did not disappoint.

It launched QE3 and did so with such scale that even Wall Street was shocked.

The Federal Reserve announced a plan to purchase $40 billion monthly of mortgage-backed bonds indefinitely, a move aimed at lowering U.S. mortgage rates in order to stimulate the housing market which can create more jobs in construction and other related industries.

The Fed will continue to buy mortgage bonds until it deems such purchases no longer necessary. The Fed also announced a commitment to holding the Fed Funds Rate in its current target range of 0.000-0.250% until mid-2015, at least.

Mortgage rates responded favorably to the stimulus, falling to their lowest levels of the week. It masked a rise in rates from earlier in the week tied to the German court’s clearing of the European Stability Mechanism — the Eurozone “bailout fund”.

The action clears the way for debt-burdened nations including Spain and Greece to get the support necessary to remain solvent.

Mortgage rates were also pressured higher by a strong consumer confidence report. When consumers are more confident in the economy, they may be more likely to spend and consumer spending accounts for more than two-thirds of the U.S. economy.

This week, mortgage rates throughout California face competing pressures. The Fed’s bond-buy has started and that will lead rates lower, but with Housing Starts and Existing Home Sales data set for release, data could pull rates up.

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Existing Home Sales Rise To 4.47 Million

Existing Home SalesHome resales climbed 2% last month as the housing market continues its measured, steady recovery.

According to the National Association of REALTORS®, Existing Home Sales rose to 4.47 million units in July on a seasonally-adjusted, annualized basis.

An “existing home” is a home that cannot be classified as new construction and, despite a reduction in the national homes inventory, the number of previously-occupied homes sold in July was higher by 10% as compared to one year ago.

The Existing Home Sales also reported the folliowing :

  • First-time buyers accounted for 34% of all purchasers, the same as in June
    • Real estate investors accounted for 16% of all purchasers, down from 19% in June
    • Cash buyers accounted for 27% of all purchasers, down from 29% in June

    In addition, the real estate trafde group reports that distressed sales accounted for a smaller percentage of the overall home resale market in July. Just 24% of home resales were for homes in various forms of foreclosure or short sale.

    This is down one percent from June, and five percent from July 2011.

    It also marks the smallest percentage of homes sold in “distressed” status since the trade group began to track such data 4 years ago.

    Lastly, nationwide, the supply of homes for sale dropped to 6.5 months. At the current pace of sales, therefore, the complete U.S. home resale inventory would be sold by the end of Q1 2013.

    There are now 2.40 million homes for sale — a 24% reduction from July 2011.

    For today’s South Orange County home buyers, the July Existing Home Sales report reinforces the notion that housing has been in recovery. Traditionally, however, the market – in this area, anyway – starts to slow down a bit, as we start to head into the fall season. If things play out that way, the next 5 months may become better for buyers, than they’ve been, as there might be fewer buyers to compete against, making sellers a tad more anxious, and therefore more negotiable

    With home inventory low and mortgage rates the same, a slowing fall home resale market will probably look ripe for better deals – for buyers. For anyone who’s been on the fence, looking for an optimal buying moment, the time between now and the middle of January 2013, just might be that time.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week : August 20, 2012

Posted in mortgage rates by southorangecounty on August 20, 2012

Jobs reportMortgage markets worsened for the third straight week last week as the U.S. economy showed new signs of expansion, and as little new news came from Europe.

August has been a rough month for rate shoppers. Since the start of the month, mortgage rates in South Orange County have climbed steadily and are now at a 7-week high.

According to Freddie Mac’s weekly Primary Mortgage Market Survey, the 30-year fixed rate mortgage is 3.62% nationwide, on average, for homeowners willing to pay 0.6 discount points plus a full set of closing costs. 1 discount point is equal to one percent of your loan size.

Homeowners not wishing to pay discount points are seeing 30-year fixed rate mortgage rates as high 4.00%.

These are the highest mortgage rates since Independence Day.

This week, mortgage rates may continue to move higher. There is a bevy of economic data set for publication in addition to the Federal Reserve’s release of its July/August meeting minutes. Mortgage rates are expected to get more bumpy as the week progresses.

No data will be released Monday or Tuesday. During these first two days, expect momentum and sentiment to drive markets. Lately, both have favored “higher rates”.

Then, Wednesday morning, the National Association of REALTORS® releases its July Existing Home Sales report. Strong numbers will likely lead mortgage rates higher. That is, until that day’s 2:00 PM ET release of the Fed Minutes. This will be the week’s big market-mover.

Prior to its last meeting, the FOMC had said economic stimulus would be warranted given certain conditions and Wall Street took that to mean that the Federal Reserve was close to adding new stimulus. When the Fed did not add said stimulus August 1 as expected, mortgage rates rose.

The Fed Minutes will provide insight into some of the debate the shaped the discussion/non-discussion of new stimulus and, depending on what market sees, mortgage rates may rise or fall Wednesday — perhaps by a lot.

Then, on Thursday, the government releases its New Home Sales data for July. This, too, can influence mortgage rates.

If you’re not yet locked on a mortgage, it may be prudent to lock your rate in. Mortgage rates have trended higher this month, and may continue to move in that direction.

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Existing Home Supply Ticks Higher To 6.6 Months Nationwide

Existing Home Supply

Home resales slipped a little more than 5 percent last month, putting a slight damper on recent housing market enthusiasm.

According to the National Association of REALTORS®, Existing Home Sales fell to 4.37 million units in June 2012 on a seasonally-adjusted, annualized basis. This is 250,000 fewer home sales per year as compared May’s figures which NAR has revised 2 percentage points higher.

The pace at which homes are selling has slowed, too. As compared to May, the Existing Home Supply rose 0.2 months. At the current pace of sales nationwide, the national home supply would now be exhausted in 6.6 months.

A home supply of 6.0 months is believed to mark a market in balance. There are currently 2.39 million homes for sale nationwide — the lowest total in 3 months and more than 24% below than the listed inventory at this point last year.

Other noteworthy statistics from the Existing Home Sales report include :

  • First-time buyers accounted for 32% of all purchasers in June, down from 34% in May
  • Real estate investors accounted for 19% of all purchasersin June, up from 17% in May
  • Cash buyers accounted for 29% of all purchasers in June, up from 28% in May

In addition, distressed sales as a percentage of all sales was unchanged in June as foreclosures sold for an average discount of 18 percent below market value. Short sales nationwide sold at an average 15 percent discount.

More on “distressed sales” : In June, distressed homes accounted for 25% of all home resales, the smallest percentage of homes sold with such status since the real estate trade group began tracking the data in 2008.

Despite falling home sales and rising home supplies, however, home resales are expected to return to growth in July. Last month’s Pending Home Sales Index spiked to a 2-year high, and 80% of homes under contract close within 60 days. This portends well for July’s Existing Home Sales data, due in 4 weeks.

Low mortgage rates and rising rents in South Orange County and in many U.S. cities continue to fuel the U.S. housing market. Home buyers should expect higher home prices ahead.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week : July 16, 2012

Posted in mortgage rates by southorangecounty on July 16, 2012

Retail SalesMortgage markets improved last week on slowing economic growth worldwide and investor thirst for “safe” investments.

China’s economy posted to its weakest growth since 2009 and economic activity in the Eurozone continued to sag. Both events resulted in a broad-based sell-off of equities and non-U.S. bonds. Mortgage bonds benefited from last week’s flight-to-quality as bond pricing moved higher.

When mortgage bond prices rise, mortgage rates fall.

According to Freddie Mac, the average 30-year fixed rate mortgage rate is now down to 3.56% nationwide for borrowers willing to pay 0.7 discount points plus a full set of closing costs. The 15-year fixed rate mortgage fell to 2.86%, on average.

Both mortgage rates are all-time records, rewarding today’s South Orange County home buyers and mortgage rate shoppers. The principal + interest mortgage payment on a $200,000 mortgage is now just $904.80 per month.

Low rates may not last forever.

One reason why low rates may not last is that, also last week, the Federal Reserve released the minutes from its June 2012 meeting. In it, the Fed appeared more ready to add new market stimulus than Wall Street had expected. The market’s initial reaction was to push mortgage rates higher because new stimulus would encourage risk-taking among traders, and invite inflation.

This week will see the release of a number of key data points for the U.S. economy :

  • Monday : Retail Sales
  • Tuesday : Consumer Price Index
  • Wednesday : Housing Starts
  • Thursday : Existing Home Sales; Initial Jobless Claims

If any of these reports show better-than-expected results, mortgage rates are expected to rise. In addition, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke begins a 2-day congressional testimony beginning Tuesday. The chairman’s words can move mortgage markets.

Mortgage rates remain at historical loans. If you have not yet locked a mortgage rate, talk to your loan officer soon.

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Existing Home Sales Slip 2% In May

Posted in Housing Analysis by southorangecounty on June 26, 2012

Existing Home SalesHome resales slipped last month; a slight setback for the nation’s housing market’s recovery.

According to the National Association of REALTORS®, Existing Home Sales fell to 4.55 million units in May 2012 on a seasonally-adjusted annualized basis, representing a 2 percent drop from April.

An “existing home” is a home that’s been previously owned or occupied, and cannot be categorized as new construction.

Despite May’s retreat, however, as compared to last year at this time, Existing Home Sales by units are higher by 10 percent. In other words, like everything else in housing, the long-term statistical trend has been a positive one.

The housing market has seen its bottom and is finding balance.

Other data from the Existing Home Sales report includes :

  • First-time buyers accounted for 34% of all purchasers, down from 35% in April
  • Real estate investors accounted for 17% of all purchasers, down from 20% in April
  • Cash buyers accounted for 28% of all purchasers, down from 29% in April

In addition, distressed sales accounted for 25% of all sales in May, down from 28% in April.

“Distressed sales” include the sale of homes in various stages of foreclosure, and of short sales. This is the smallest percentage of homes sold in a “distressed” status since the real estate trade group began tracking the data in 2008. 

And, lastly, home supplies rose by 0.1 months to 6.6 months nationwide in May. This means that, at the current pace of sales, the complete U.S. home resale inventory would be sold out before the end of 2012.  A 6-month supply is widely believed to represent a market in balance between buyers and sellers.

There are now 2.49 million homes for sale — a 20% reduction from May 2011.

Home resales may have slipped last months but volume remains brisk nationwide. All-time low mortgage rates and high home affordability are keeping buyers in the market. Home prices are rising in many U.S. cities as the housing market continues its slow, steady recovery. 

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Existing Home Sales Climb 3.4 Percent In April

Posted in Housing Analysis by southorangecounty on May 23, 2012

Existing Home Supply

Low mortgage rates are helping to make homes more affordable. It appears home buyers have taken notice.

According to the National Association of REALTORS®, Existing Home Sales rose 3.4% in April from the month prior, registering 4.62 million homes sold on a seasonally-adjusted, annualized basis.

An “existing home” is a home that’s been previously occupied. April’s sales volume represents a 10 percent jump from April of last year.

For buyers and sellers in Rancho Santa Margarita , the April Existing Home Sales report supports the notion that the housing market may be improving; that the “bottom” occurred sometime in late-2011. Home values have been rising in many U.S. markets and home builders now report the highest levels of foot traffic through models since 2007.

Demand for U.S. housing is growing.

It also helps that home affordability is at an all-time high. Not in recorded history have this many homes for sale been affordable to buyers earning a moderate household income, on a percentage basis. Additionally, there is now a larger stock of homes from which buyers can choose.  

In April, the number of homes for sale nationwide jumped 9.5 percent to 2.54 million — the largest home resale inventory of the year.

At the current pace of sales, it would take 6.6 months for the complete home inventory to sell. Analysts consider a 6.0-month supply to be a market in balance. Anything less than a 6-month supply suggests a “buyer’s market”.

Home values peaked nationwide in April 2007. Since then, it’s been an uneven recovery. Some markets came back quickly, while others did not. On a neighborhood-by-neighborhood basis, even, there’s signifcant variance in how home values have fared.

In other words, although the April Existing Home Sales report indicates housing strength nationally, it’s the local data that matters most to today’s buyers and sellers. To get real-time real estate data for a particular street or area, talk with a local real estate agent.

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