LATEST DEVELOPMENTS
Existing-Home Sales Down, Higher Than a Year Ago
Existing-home sales fell in January but are above year-ago levels, according to the latest release. Existing-home sales – including single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops – dropped 7.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate1 of 5.05 million units in January from a revised 5.44 million in December, but remain 11.5 percent above the 4.53 million-unit level in January 2009. Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said there is still some delay between shopping and closing that affected current sales. “Most of the completed deals in January were based on contracts in November and December. People who got into the market after the home buyer tax credit was extended in November have only recently started to offer contracts, so it will take a couple months to close those sales,” he said. “Still, the latest monthly sales decline is not encouraging, and raises concern about the strength of a recovery.”
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No Meaningful Recovery in Commercial Real Estate Before 2011
Although the economy has been growing lately, fallout from the recent recession continued to negatively impact commercial real estate sectors in the fourth quarter, but there is hope for some improvement next year, according to the latest survey. Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said commercial real estate almost always lags the economy. “Because of the lingering impact from the deep recession over the past two years, vacancy rates will trend higher and many commercial property owners will need to make rent concessions,” he said. “With the job market expected to turn for the better later this year, we’ll see rising demand for office and warehouse space, but that isn’t likely before 2011,” Yun said. “At the same time, improved consumer confidence would help sustain the retail sector and encourage more people to enter the rental market.”
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Fourth Quarter Existing-Home Sales Surge in Most States, Prices Up in More Areas
Strong gains in existing-home sales were the predominant pattern in most states during the fourth quarter, with many more metro areas seeing prices rise from a year earlier, according to the latest survey. Sales increased from the third quarter in 48 states and the District of Columbia; 32 states saw double-digit gains. Year-over-year sales were higher in 49 states and D.C.; all but three states had double-digit annual increases. Total state existing-home sales, including single-family and condo, jumped 13.9 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate 1 of 6.03 million in the fourth quarter from 5.29 million in the third quarter, and are 27.2 percent above the 4.74 million-unit level in the fourth quarter of 2008. Distressed property accounted for 32 percent of fourth quarter transactions, down from 37 percent a year earlier.
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NEWS YOU CAN USE
March Research Webinar: Foreclosures
While news of foreclosures are bombarding the media of many metropolitan areas in the country, the aftermath of foreclosures on home prices and housing inventory actually vary significantly across the country. A NAR Research economist will review trends of foreclosures in different parts of the country and provide estimates of shadow inventory. This webinar is scheduled for Thursday, March 25 at 2pm EST.
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Economists’ Podcast for February: Metro Median Home Prices, State Sales
On the second Tuesday of every month, NAR’s Chief Economist, Lawrence Yun, will discuss the current factors, issues, and data affecting REALTORS® and their businesses. Get a wealth of information straight from the source with a quick listen – each podcast is around 5 minutes long and provides a timely market update. In this month’s podcast, NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun discusses the latest quarterly state sales and metro median price data release.
Listen to February’s Podcast >
Realtors®’ Confidence Index: What You’re Telling Us
In responding to the monthly REALTOR® Confidence Index Survey, REALTORS® frequently provide written comments on their understanding of the state of the housing market in addition to answering specific questions. This information is generally of a qualitative nature. This month we received over 1,000 comments, which are summarized below along with a sample of the specific comments received. The most notable comments were on short sales and foreclosures. Short Sales are a matter of extreme frustration to the respondents: the sales appear to involve inordinate delays, and sales frequently fail to close-with the property subsequently going to foreclosure and selling for less than the short sale offer. The foreclosure market is active, frequently with multiple bids although at significantly lower prices than bids for comparable non-distressed properties. Credit, condos, and appraisals continue to have a number of issues, and there is increasing concern over FHA tightening of lending policies in the condo markets.
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Research is Now on Facebook, Active Rain, RealTown, and Twitter!
The National Association of Realtors® has been surveying members to find out about their use of technology like websites and blogs for several years. Now, Research, too, has its very own Facebook group, Active Rain and RealTown presences, as well as a presence on Twitter. Research’s social media pages are not only a place for our members to receive insight into our latest surveys, commentaries and reports, but also an avenue for you to make your thoughts known to us and your fellow Realtors®. There may be certain special trends in the marketplace that Research may be unaware of – such as a significant rise in foot traffic at open houses or continuing long delays in getting short sales to close. We’d like this to be an open forum for discussion rather than a one-sided monologue.
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Read daily commentaries by NAR economists on the latest developments in the real estate market.
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