Robert Shiller, Yale University economics professor and co-founder of the Case-Shiller Home Price Index, expects home prices to continue to grow over the next four years, but at a slow pace.
September sales of new single-family homes rose 6.6 percent above August’s rate, according to estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Nicholas Tenev, an economist with Barclays Capital, said it looks as though new-home sales have stabilized and he expects a gradual recovery over the coming months. Despite the unexpected jump, sales of new homes are still 21.5 percent below last year’s levels. The median sales price of new houses sold in September was $223,800; the average sales price was $257,500. More here and here.
According to The Mortgage Bankers Association’s Weekly Applications Survey, the average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages dropped to 4.25 percent last week from 4.34 percent the week before. The Market Composite Index, which measures total loan application volume, rose 3.2 percent, spurred by a 3.0 percent increase in the Refinance Index and a 3.9 percent jump in the Purchase Index. More here.
Home prices in August rose from a year earlier but weakened from the month before. The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices shows the 10-City Composite up 2.6 percent and the 20-City Composite up 1.7 percent from August 2009. The 20-city index has gained 6.7 percent from its bottom in April 2009 but is down 28 percent from its July 2006 peak. Month-over-month, the 10-City Composite was down 0.1 percent and the 20-City Composite was down 0.2 percent. David M. Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at Standard & Poor’s, said it was a disappointing report that indicates slowing growth after consistent gains since prices hit their bottom in the spring of last year. More here and here.
Sales of existing homes increased for the second month in a row, according to a report from The National Association of Realtors. Sales of single-family, townhomes, condominiums, and co-ops jumped 10 percent in September. Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, said gradual increases in home sales indicate the housing market is in the early stages of recovery. Total housing inventory was down 1.9 percent at the end of September and the median sales price was $171,700. Yun said buyers are responding to historically low mortgage rates and very favorable affordability conditions. More here and here.
Lawrence Yun, the National Association of Realtors’ chief economist, says job creation numbers are headed in the right direction and that, along with low mortgage rates, will be the key to bringing buyers back to the housing market.
After a slow summer for home sales, the housing market is attempting to return to traditional seasonal trends, according to RE/MAX’s National Housing Report for September. The spring rush to qualify for the homebuyer tax credit caused a summer sales slump but, despite the lull in activity, the month of September saw an increase in signed contracts, stabilizing prices, and a drop in inventory. Margaret Kelly, CEO of RE/MAX, said slow summer sales were anticipated and increases in signed contracts should translate into sales gains in the months ahead. Also in the report, home prices were up 0.9 percent from 2009 and 33 of the 54 metro areas surveyed showed year-over-year price increases. Inventory of homes on the market fell 2.8 percent in September. More here.
According to The Mortgage Bankers Association’s Weekly Application Survey, the average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages increased to 4.34 percent last week from 4.21 percent the week before. It was the first rate increase in six weeks. The Refinance Index dropped 11.2 percent from the previous week and the Purchase Index fell 6.7 percent. The four week moving average for the Market Composite Index, which measures total loan application volume, is up 0.4 percent. More here and here.
Housing starts hit a five-month high in September, despite expectations that they’d fall. According to a report from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, housing starts were up 0.3 percent from August and 4.1 percent above last September’s levels. But despite the unexpected jump, building permits for future construction fell 5.6 percent because of a 20.2 percent drop in permits for multi-family units. Permits for single-family homes rose 0.5 percent. More here and here.
Builder confidence rose for the first time in five months, a sign that builders are starting to see interest from potential buyers. The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index for October shows builder confidence rose three points to 16. The index gauges builders’ perception of the market for newly built, single-family homes. A number below 50 indicates negative sentiment about market conditions. David Crowe, NAHB’s chief economist, said the new-homes market is finally moving past the lull that occurred after the expiration of the homebuyer tax credit. More here and here.