Mortgages, Housing Starts & New Household Creations in 2014 ? What You Need to Know.

The Real Estate Book Blog
Over the past year, there has been a revival of single-family home production. What does this mean for 2014? Housing will continue its climb toward higher ground this year, but builders are still confronting several challenges, according to economists speaking at the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) International Builders? Show (IBS).
NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe explains that consumer confidence has returned to pre-recession levels and household balance sheets are on the mend. Year-over-year household formations are on the rise and now averaging 620,000 compared to just 500,000 during the housing downturn.
At the height of the housing boom, the U.S. was producing 1.4 million additional households each year. Meanwhile, new-home sales are averaging just 8.7 percent of total home sales?barely half the historical average of 16.1 percent. However, builders still face several headwinds, including rising building material prices, persistently tight mortgage credit conditions, difficulties in obtaining accurate appraisals and limited availability in labor and developed lots.

NAHB forecast for 2014:
? 1.15 million total housing starts in 2014, up 24.5 percent from 2013?s 928,000 units.
? Single-family production projected to rise 32 percent to 822,000 units and surge an additional 41 percent to 1.16 million units in 2015.
? 333,000 multifamily starts, up 9 percent from 306,000 in 2013.
? Single-family home sales are projected to hit 584,000 this year, a 35.9 percent increase above last year?s 430,000 sales.
? Residential remodeling activity is expected to register a modest gain this year over 2013.
? A slow and steady housing recovery will bring nationwide housing starts to 71 percent of normal by fourth quarter 2014 and 93 percent of normal by the end of 2015, says Crowe.
? On a state level, the top 20 percent of states will be back to normal production levels by the end of 2015, compared to the bottom 20 percent, which will still be below 84 percent.

Mortgage rates up, but housing still affordable
As the economy strengthens and the Federal Reserve tapers its buy-back of mortgage-backed securities, there will be upward pressure on mortgage rates, but not enough to harm housing affordability, according to Frank Nothaft, vice president and chief economist at Freddie Mac.
Nationally, Nothaft expects that home sales and prices will each rise about 5 percent in 2014, and that housing starts will post a 20 percent gain.
?As we move into the 2014 home buying season, it will be a market dominated by home buying originations rather than refinance originations,? says Nothaft. ?This will be the first time since 2000 that purchase originations will dominate the market.?
He says the reason for the change is because so many households looking to refinance have already done so, and as mortgage rates gradually rise, fewer homeowners will look to refinance. Further, purchase originations are expected to increase as the overall housing market strengthens.

Pent-up demand will fuel growth
In the aftermath of the Great Recession, there is a significant pent-up demand to form households and even to build homes.
At least 3 million fewer households formed over the past five years than would normally have been expected. During this period, many college graduates were forced to double-up or move in with their parents. Stronger job growth and a strengthening economy in 2014 should lead to a rise in household formations, which will be important to supplement housing demand.
?I think this will be a pretty good year for home construction,? says Real Estate Expert and Economist David Berson. ?There will be a big increase in single-family construction, but not as much for multifamily.?
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New Survey Reveals Pulse of 2014 Spring Real Estate Market

RISMedia Post
A recently released survey indicates a lively Spring season ahead for real estate sales. MRIS, a Mid-Atlantic Multiple Listing Service (MLS), recently released the results from its 2014 Spring Real Estate Outlook Survey.

The survey drew responses from over 1,300 real estate professionals within MRIS’s geographic footprint, including Washington D.C., Baltimore, Northern Virginia, and parts of West Virginia and Pennsylvania, focusing on their predictions for the Spring market.

Over 71 percent of MRIS real estate professionals are more optimistic about the upcoming real estate season compared to last year and predicted transactions would increase this year from 2013. Additionally, 82 percent of respondents think the average home sales price will increase in this year’s Spring market.

The survey also looked at the homebuyer and seller challenges, inventory and new mortgage rules.

Homebuyers and Sellers
Forty-five percent of MRIS real estate professionals predict that 2014 will continue to be a seller’s market, while 33 percent indicated a buyer’s market for this year and 22 percent are unsure.

“The DC Metro market has been, without question, a seller’s market and will most likely remain so,” Strauch added. “In 2013, we saw two months of supply on average, meaning it would take two months for all homes on the market to sell and we expect to see that continue. The Baltimore Metro area is more balanced, but still favors the seller to some degree with its 4.9 months of supply.

According to the survey, other challenges that buyers and sellers will face this Spring season include:

  • Approximately 53 percent of respondents think that an insufficient supply of homes on the market is one of the biggest challenges that buyers face right now.
  • Fifty percent of those surveyed feel buyers were concerned with competition from other buyers; and 48 percent noted low affordability.
  • Over half of the respondents believe that the biggest challenge that sellers are facing right now is pricing their home properly.

Thirty-seven percent of respondents believe that inventory will increase compared to last year and just slightly less (32 percent) indicated inventory will be about the same as last year. Only 22 percent of real estate professionals predict that inventory will meet the demand they expect for 2014.

“Demand is highest for the more affordable price points, which leads to higher competition among condos and townhomes in our region,” says Strauch. “Baltimore and DC Metro’s low supply of attached homes gives seller’s the advantage in our market. Detached homes have a more balanced market and, in some areas, possibly even lean towards the favor of the buyer due to less competition.”

  • Fifty-eight percent responded that the biggest shortage of supply would be homes priced below $300,000; and 29 percent says the largest shortage would be homes in the $300,000-500,000 price range.
  • Approximately 48 percent of real estate professionals predict that attached houses in Spring 2014 will remain the same level of sales seen during 2013.
  • Approximately 21 percent reported that attached houses would rise in popularity over single-family detached homes this year.

New Ability to Repay and Qualified Mortgage Rules
In early January new mortgage rules issued by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau went into effect, designed to lower the risk of defaults and foreclosures among borrowers. As a part of the rules, lenders must determine that a borrower has the income and assets to afford to make payments during the life of the loan.

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Written by Phoebe Chongchua on Monday, 06 January 2014 8:44 am

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The number of homes purchased with a home loan has been dropping steadily since May, according to RealtyTrac. Instead, cash is king for many reasons. As mortgage rates began creeping up, some homebuyers started opting to purchase with all cash. And that trend may continue as new loan requirements become more strict.

However, for those buyers who do need to purchase a home with a loan, expect to see some changes in the loan requirements as the new year rings in. Here are a just a few of the changes that are going into effect in January 2014. Some of these requirements are already in place by lenders.

The new guidelines are being implemented under The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Qualified Mortgage (QM) and are designed to help avoid the borrowing catastrophes that caused the housing crisis. The guidelines are what the lenders use to prove borrowers’ ability to repay a loan.

One of the guidelines? requirements is that borrowers must have a maximum debt-to-income ratio of 43 percent. Debt-to-income ratios have already been in place but the new rules won’t allow for any compensating circumstances. That means that not even a significant downpayment or a large cash reserve will be allowed to offset a higher debt ratio.

The incentive to follow these guidelines is huge for the lender. If the mortgages don’t meet the QM guidelines, the lender will be required to hold the loan as opposed to selling it to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

The QM requirements potentially may have lower loan limits for conventional conforming loans. The agency that regulates Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, The Federal Housing Finance Agency, will delay its normal adjustment of loan limits from January 1, 2014 to sometime later in the year. The agency is trying to see what kind of impact the new QM guidelines will have on the housing industry. For most housing markets, the current limits are $417,000 and up to $625,000 in high-cost areas. How these figures will change remains to be seen in 2014.

Origination fees will be limited under the QM requirements, which could make getting a smaller loan more difficult. Origination loan fees will be limited to no more than 3 percent of the loan amount. This could make mortgage lenders less likely to offer smaller loan amounts because they may not always be able to recoup their costs and make a profit.

Self-employed borrowers already face tough standards and they’ll likely be even more strict in 2014. In the QM guidelines, all borrowers must prove there is sufficient cash flow to make payments on their loan but self-employed borrowers’ incomes typically fluctuate. These borrowers frequently have cash reserves that they rely on to pay bills when their income is off in a particular month. However, even if there is a large amount of money in reserve, it may still be difficult for the self-employed borrower to get a loan approved due to this new “ability-to-repay” QM guideline.

Expect to see changes in the loan approval process as the new year begins. However, some of the specific requirements may not be determined until later in 2014.

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Real Estate Red Alert: The Flippers Are Back

Wisconsin Startup Program

“I think 2014 will be the year when we see that home price appreciation pulls back to more normal, sustainable levels,” says Daren Blomquist, vice-president of, a site that aggregates real estate data. Markets that boomed in 2013 will likely scale back to more modest growth in the low double digits, while nationwide growth should average about 4.5 percent, according to Blomquist.

Even with recent gains factored in, most markets are not at risk right now for another housing bubble. Nationally, home prices remained 4 percent undervalued in the third quarter, according to Trulia?s Bubble Watch. Only Orange County, Calif., and Los Angeles are more than 10 percent overvalued, the report finds.

The hottest markets for 2014 won?t be in the big cities. A joint study of more than 1,000 real estate industry experts done by PwC and the Urban Land Institute ranks real estate prospects in smaller secondary markets including Houston, San Jose, Dallas/Fort Worth and Austin above those in larger cities like Chicago, Atlanta and Washington, D.C., where ?there’s a lot of money chasing a few assets,? says R. Byron Carlock, Jr., PwC national real estate practice leader.

It?s still 35 percent cheaper nationally to buy a home than to rent one, but that doesn?t mean millennials are rushing out to get a mortgage. Just 18 percent of consumers surveyed in September by said that buying a house was still their definition of ?the American Dream.?

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Time for Buyers to Jump In Before Rates Go Up

U.S. Government programs are expected to wind down in 2014 according to various information posted recently, and will likely lead to higher mortgage interest rates due to the improving Real Estate Market. The Real Estate Market isn’t all a rosey picture though, and some speculate and still on the fence. Read up for yourself.

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Click to read RIS Media article “Home Values Expected To Rise Through 2018”

Milwaukee Metropolitan Area October Home Sales Up 3.5%

Sales of homes in the 4-county Metropolitan Milwaukee real estate market increased 3.5% compared to the same period in 2012. There were a total of 1,434 homes sold, compared to 1,386 last October.
October Sales

gmar october 2014 sales 419

The 3.5% increase in regional sales may be a sign that the marketplace is settling into a more gradual sales pace. Rather than seeing large, double-digit increases ? fueled by discounts and low prices ? steady sales increases would point to a market with competitive pricing and neither buyers nor sellers dominating a transaction.

Cumulative sales through October totaled 15,351, putting the market on track to end the year with just under 18,000 sales.

Milwaukee and Waukesha Counties saw a moderate increase in sales in October, whereas Washington and Ozaukee Counties saw insignificant decreases in the number of units sold (both counties had one less sale than the previous year).

All are following a ?normal? pattern of sales for the year, characterized by low sales in the first few months of the year (as listings are added to the market, increasing inventory). In spring, sales take off, consuming inventory through the summer, ending about Labor Day. The fall sees a gradual trailing off of sales to the end of the year (and a rise in inventory).

Homes placed on the market increased for the seventh month in a row in October, going up 8.6% ? the first time the market has seen a sustained period of increased listings since before the recession.
October Listings

gmar october 2014 listings 420

Despite the increase in listing activity, the market?s inventory level was 7.5-months, down slightly from September?s 7.6 level. A year ago, the inventory level was at 11.4-months. If the 1,177 listings with an active offer are subtracted from current listings, the inventory level drops to 5.3-months.

The 8.6% increase in listings is a sign of a healthy real estate market, as sellers trust they will receive a competitive price for their house, but the number of current listings without an active offer indicates the market has room for more.

The market is proving to be very ?balanced,? in contrast to the wild swings we saw over the last decade. Sellers should not assume they will get whatever they ask for, and buyers should know the days of deep discounts are gone; a REALTORS? guidance will help both parties purchase or sell a property for a fair price.

Provided by the Greater Milwaukee Association of Realtors

Behind the 2013 Land Report 100: America’s Largest Landowners Double Down

Investing in rural, undeveloped land continues to be a popular strategy among the affluent, according to the 2013 Land Report 100, the latest annual survey and ranking of the largest private landowners in the United States. Increasingly seen as a “safe deposit box with a view,” acreages continue to be purchased by leading landowners at solid rates. In 2012, the country’s top 100 landowners cumulatively increased their private holdings by 700,000 acres to a total of 33 million acres, nearly 2 percent of U.S. land mass.

Liberty Media Chairman John Malone and his 2.2 million acres under ownership topped the Land Report 100 list, which focuses exclusively on deeded acreage owned by individuals, families, family-owned companies and family-controlled foundations – excluding leased and public lands. Malone edged out Ted Turner, who currently possesses more than 2 million land acres. Rounding out the top five in order were: the Emmerson family, Brad Kelley and the Irving family.

“It’s refreshing to continue seeing large landowners find value in aggregating their land for conservation and agriculture purposes versus parceling it out and developing it,” said land broker Greg Fay, founder of Fay Ranches. “Everyone at Fay Ranches congratulates leading landowners for their commitments to the land, to conserving our wild places and preserving our agricultural heritage.”

This year saw a shake-up in the top ten as Stan Kroenke elevated his position from No. 10 to No. 8 after his recent purchase of the historic Broken O Ranch, described nationally as “one of the largest agricultural operations in the Rocky Mountain West.” Kroenke also owns the 540,000-acre Q Creek Ranch, the largest contiguous ranch in the Rocky Mountains.

There are several landowners new to this year’s 100 list, including No. 28, Dan and Farris Wilks, billionaire brothers who recently purchased more than 400 square miles of land, mostly in the eastern half of Montana. Oil field services entrepreneurs, the Wilks brothers own the prized N Bar Ranch in Montana, which is known for its wildlife and fishery resources. Another new addition to the Land Report 100 presented by Fay Ranches is No. 96, Arthur Nicholas. The co-founder of Nicholas Investment Properties owns Wyoming’s historic Wagonhound Land and Livestock, an AQHA Ranching Heritage Breeder.

“America’s largest landowners continue to recognize land as a compelling asset, one whose numerous attributes go well beyond ROI,” said Eric O’Keefe, editor-in-chief of The Land Report. “It’s a story you’ll see again and again in the Land Report 100, one that features familiar faces and some new ones I’m sure readers will instantly identify.”

Copyright? 2013 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.

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October 2014 Market Report from MLS

Report from Multiple Listing Service, Inc.

Now that the baton is in grasp of the final quarter of our annual relay, it’s a good time to look back and reflect. This year has been spectacular for residential real estate. Robust gains in sales and prices were felt in many markets. More homes sold in less time for closer to asking price. While consumers have felt empowered by low prices and interest rates, sellers are starting to regain their footing. Seller confidence is crucial to refilled inventory bins ? which are still relatively sparse.
New Listings in the Milwaukee region increased 5.6 percent to 1,824. Pending Sales were down 23.1 percent to 913. Inventory levels shrank 4.4 percent to 7,886 units.
Prices got a lift. The Median Sales Price increased 6.1 percent to $174,000. Days on Market was down 17.7 percent to 82 days. Absorption rates improved as Months Supply of Inventory was down 11.1 percent to 5.9 months.
The economy continues to snail forward. The government shutdown had a modest impact on borrowing ? mostly centered on USDA and VA borrowers. Consumer confidence is central to ongoing recovery, and confidence was hindered by the shutdown. Consumer spending accounts for roughly 70 percent of U.S. economic activity and impacts the likelihood for big-ticket purchases like homes and cars. Future shutdowns are unwelcome.
All data for the market reports comes from the Multiple Listing Service, Inc. and is powered by 10K Research and Marketing. You can follow this link: or visit

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Lower Limits Could Affect Markets

By Ken Fears Director, Regional Economics & Housing Finance National Association of REALTORS?

In early September, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), the entity that oversees Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, gave notice that it would revise the conforming loan limits in an attempt to stimulate the private sector, specifically the private mortgage securitization (PLS) market. Though the reduction in the loan limits is expected to be modest, it could have more far reaching impacts at the local level and for affected borrowers.

Each year, the FHFA adjusts the national conforming loan limit, which defines the space within which Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac can finance mortgages. The national limit is $417,000, but that varies by county and can increase to $625,500 in high-cost markets. The FHA?s limits, which range from $261,050 to $725,750, are based off of the conforming limit, so the FHFA?s actions would impact FHA borrowers as well.

NAR research estimates that if the national conforming limit were lowered to $400,000, roughly 170,000 total mortgages and 60,000 purchase mortgages would have been impacted in 2012 (based on data from the FFEIC?s HMDA dataset). The total number was inflated due to the refinance boom in 2012. However, stronger price growth in 2013 has likely pushed more homebuyers toward the conforming limit. Most estimates have the impacted volume at roughly 3-5 percent nationally.

While the national figure may appear relatively small, the change could have a significant impact at the local level. The impact goes beyond the high priced markets on the coasts and would affect some smaller communities in the Midwest and South. Furthermore, several of the markets in the top 25 most impacted are in formerly distressed areas (e.g. Atlanta, Sacramento, Riverside-San Bernardino, Oakland and Phoenix). These are areas where FICO scores declined in recent years as a result of the economic and housing downturn and where investors have played an important role in their recovery. As prices rise, investors will pull back and it?s not clear that the PLS industry is currently ready to provide financing for the nascent homebuyers needed to fill the void. Some private mortgage insurers recently announced willingness to underwrite mortgages with FICOs between 620 and 680. It will be particularly interesting and instructive to see how lenders respond to this change. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac?as well as the FHA?have new programs to help in these distressed areas, but they are less potent if reduced limits disqualify borrowers.

Beyond the distressed areas, borrowers pushed into the non-conforming, or from FHA to conventional-conforming market, may not have the same access to credit due to higher FICO and down payment requirements. Since rates are already at parity or better in the jumbo space and part of the conforming-conventional, if a borrower had sufficient credit quality or the down payment, they likely would have already migrated to the private sector. Similarly, the FHA has been underpriced by the private MIs at the middle and upper price echelons since the fall of 2012. Lowering the limits could create a binding equity or credit constraint for the remaining borrowers in this space.

Finally, it isn?t clear that lowering the limits will stimulate the PLS market. There are still a number of issues hindering the PLS market, including representation and warrants risk, the unfinished QRM rule, concerns about the QM rule, secondary market reform and lingering negative investor sentiment. Nor is it clear that bank portfolios will expand to sustain these borrowers.

Though well intended, a reduction in loan limits could crowd out many otherwise qualified borrowers. There may be a time when the PLS sector is ready, but it isn?t clear that PLS issuers are ready to take up those borrowers impacted by lowering the limits.

Ken Fears is the Director of Regional Economics & Housing Finance for the National Association of REALTORS?.

RIS Media Broker Report Article

Big investors buy up homes in key markets

Julie Schmit, USA TODAY 6:46 p.m. EDT October 28, 2013
Experts disagree on how much investor buyers have to do with the home price recovery. But investors remain very active in key markets as they pull back in others.

Home prices
(Photo: Danny Johnston, AP)
Big investors buy 1 in 4 homes in some cities in September
Other markets see slowing investor interest
Big investors account for small part of housing market

Big investors continue to expand into more cities for single-family homes as they pull back in others.

Last month, institutional investors, who largely buy single-family homes to turn into rentals, accounted for about one in four home sales in Atlanta, Las Vegas, St. Louis and Jacksonville, data from RealtyTrac show.

They also accounted for a big chunk of sales in Charlotte and Memphis.

Price gains will likely follow the investor buyers, says John Burns, CEO of John Burns Real Estate Consulting, as they did in earlier hot investor markets such as Phoenix and Sacramento.

HOUSING MARKET: Pending home sales slip: Flat sales next year?

He speculates that investor buyers ? including institutional Wall Street buyers, individuals who flip homes for quick profits and mom and pop investors ? have driven much of this year’s home price appreciation.

CoreLogic data show prices up 12.4% in August year over year, but faster in areas favored by investors, like Phoenix and Sacramento, which were up 18% and 26% respectively.

“Investors were just smart. They saw that homes were undervalued. They jumped in and pushed prices back up to normal,” Burns says.

Big investors still account for a small part of the overall housing market. As a result, their impact on overall prices isn’t that great, said Richard Smith, CEO of real estate firm Realogy Holdings, at a Zillow housing forum Thursday.

Prices have also risen in areas that have had little investor activity, says Mike Orr, real estate expert at the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University.

Orr tracks the Phoenix market, which was one of the first targeted by investors.

In mid-2012, investor activity peaked in Phoenix, Orr says. Then, they accounted for almost 40% of home sales. Those investors would include small investors.

LENDERS: Home loans become a little easier to get

For this September, Orr says investors accounted for about 23% of sales. Historically, they’d be 15% to 20% of the market, he says.

While Phoenix home prices in August were up more than the national average, home price gains have been slowing this year, show seasonally adjusted price data from Standard & Poor’s Case-Shiller index.

A “cooling wave” in terms of demand has now settled in after a frantic spring, Orr says. Falling investor interest is playing a role, but lack of enthusiasm from regular buyers is more important because they’re more numerous, Orr says.

USA Today Article

Home Prices Climb in 88% of U.S. Cities

Home Prices Climb in 88% of U.S. Cities
By Prashant Gopal – Nov 6, 2013 10:14 AM CT

Prices for single-family homes climbed in 88 percent of U.S. cities in the third quarter as buyers competed for limited inventories that included fewer discounted foreclosures.

The median transaction price rose from a year earlier in 144 of 163 metropolitan areas measured, the National Association of Realtors said in a report today. A third of areas had double-digit increases.

Enlarge image Home Prices Climb in 88% of U.S. Cities as Recovery Spreads
A townhouse for sale in the Brooklyn borough of New York. Photographer: Craig Warga/Bloomberg

Enlarge image Potential Home Buyers
Potential buyers view a home under construction in South Barrington, Illinois. Home prices are extending a recovery across the country, fueled by a tight supply of listings and a smaller share of distressed sales, which drag down values. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

Home prices are extending a recovery across the country, fueled by a tight supply of listings and a smaller share of distressed sales, which drag down values. The U.S. housing market had five months of inventory in the third quarter, down from 5.9 months a year earlier, data from the Realtors group show. Completed foreclosures in September plunged 39 percent from a year earlier, according to CoreLogic Inc.

?Most regions of the country are experiencing strong home-price appreciation off a low base,? Neil Dutta, head of U.S. economics at Renaissance Macro Research LLC in New York, said yesterday in a telephone interview. ?Cities with the biggest price appreciation are in places that had bigger busts.?

Price gains are at unsustainable levels, with cities such as San Francisco and San Jose, California, approaching records, Fitch Ratings said today in a report. Much of coastal California is more than 20 percent overvalued, the firm said.

Biggest Increases
The nationwide median price for an existing single-family home rose 12.5 percent in the third quarter from a year earlier to $207,300 the Realtors group said.

The best-performing areas were Sacramento, California, and Atlanta, where prices jumped 41.8 percent. They were followed by Las Vegas and Punta Gorda, Florida, which had a 31.9 percent gain. Other cities with large increases were Los Angeles, with 26.2 percent, and Phoenix, with 25 percent.

The areas with the biggest declines were all in Illinois, led by Peoria, where prices fell 13.9 percent from a year earlier. Following were Kankakee, with a 9.9 percent drop, and Rockford, with an 8.4 percent decrease.

Rising home prices and borrowing costs are causing some buyers to hold back. The average rate for 30-year fixed loans was 4.1 percent last week, up from a near-record low of 3.35 percent in early May, according to McLean, Virginia-based Freddie Mac.

Sales Slip
Contracts (USPHTMOM) to buy existing homes dropped the most in more than three years in September, the Realtors association reported last week.

?Rising prices and higher interest rates have taken a bite out of housing affordability,? Lawrence Yun, the group?s chief economist, said in today?s statement. ?However, we have the ongoing situation of more buyers than sellers in the market, so lower sales will help to take the pressure off home-price growth and allow them to rise slowly at a single-digit growth rate in 2014.?

San Jose was the most expensive market in the third quarter, with a median home price of $805,000, the Realtors said. Following were San Francisco, at $705,000, and Honolulu, at $679,800.

The most affordable areas were Toledo, Ohio, with a median price of $87,500; Rockford, at $88,900; and Decatur, Illinois, at $91,000.

To contact the reporter on this story: Prashant Gopal in Boston at
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kara Wetzel at

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Mortgage rates drop to lowest level since June

Oct 24, 2013

Rates on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages dropped to their lowest level since the end of June, amid speculation that the Fed would delay winding down its stimulus program.

?Mortgage rates slid this week as the partial government shutdown led to market speculation that the Federal Reserve will not alter its bond purchases this year,? said Frank Nothaft, vice president and chief economist at Freddie Mac. ?The weak employment report for September added to this expectation.?

?The economy added just 148,000 jobs, which was below the market consensus forecast and less than the 193,000 jobs increase in August,? he added.

Rates on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 4.13 percent with an average point of 0.8 for the week ending Oct. 24, down from 4.28 percent last week but up from 3.41 percent a year ago, according to Freddie Mac?s latest Primary Mortgage Market Survey.

Rates on 15-year fixed-rate mortgages, five-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) loans and one-year Treasury-indexed ARMs also all fell.

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Source: Freddie Mac

Existing-Home Sales Down in September but Prices Rise

Media Contact: Walter Molony / 202-383-1177

After hitting the highest level in nearly four years, existing-home sales declined in September, but limited inventory conditions continued to pressure home prices in much of the country, according to the National Association of Realtors?.

Total existing-home sales1, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, declined 1.9 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.29 million in September from a downwardly revised 5.39 million in August, but are 10.7 percent above the 4.78 million-unit pace in September 2012. Sales have remained above year-ago levels for the past 27 months.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said a decline was expected. ?Affordability has fallen to a five-year low as home price increases easily outpaced income growth,? he said. ?Expected rising mortgage interest rates will further lower affordability in upcoming months. Next month we may see some delays associated with the government shutdown.?

According to Freddie Mac, the national average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage rose to 4.49 percent in September from 4.46 percent in August, and is the highest since July 2011 when it was 4.55 percent; the rate was 3.47 percent in September 2012.

The national median existing-home price2 for all housing types was $199,200 in September, up 11.7 percent from September 2012. This is the 10th consecutive month of double-digit year-over-year increases.

Distressed homes3 ? foreclosures and short sales ? accounted for 14 percent of September sales, up from 12 percent in August, which was the lowest share since monthly tracking began in October 2008; they were 24 percent in September 2012. Lower levels in the share of distressed sales account for some of the growth in median price.

Nine percent of September sales were foreclosures, and 5 percent were short sales. Foreclosures sold for an average discount of 16 percent below market value in September, while short sales were discounted 12 percent.

Data from,4 NAR?s listing site, show some of the strongest increases in listing price from a year ago are in the Detroit area, up 44.6 percent; Las Vegas, up 30.7 percent; and Sacramento, up 28.9 percent.

Total housing inventory at the end of September was unchanged at 2.21 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 5.0-month supply5 at the current sales pace, compared with a 4.9-month supply in August. Unsold inventory is 1.8 percent above a year ago, when there was a 5.4-month supply.

NAR President Gary Thomas, broker-owner of Evergreen Realty in Villa Park, Calif., said there are far-ranging consequences from the repeating stalemates in Washington. ?Just one impact of the recent government shutdown ? delays in tax transcripts needed for approval of mortgage loans ? put a monkey wrench in the transaction process and could negatively impact sales closings in next month?s report,? he said.

Thomas said flood insurance also is a concern. ?Realtors? report that approximately 10 percent of transactions in September were located in flood zones, and that nearly one out of 10 of those transactions were delayed or canceled due to concerns over rising insurance rates.? Notably higher flood insurance rates went into effect on October 1, and could impact future sales in flood zones.

The median time on market for all homes was 50 days in September, up from 43 days in August, but much faster than the 70 days on market in September 2012. Short sales were on the market for a median of 93 days, while foreclosures typically sold in 43 days, and non-distressed homes took 49 days. Thirty-nine percent of homes sold in September were on the market for less than a month.

First-time buyers accounted for 28 percent of purchases in September, unchanged from August, but down from 32 percent in September 2012.

All-cash sales comprised 33 percent of transactions in September, up from 32 percent in August, and 28 percent in September 2012. Individual investors, who account for many cash sales, purchased 19 percent of homes in September, up from 17 percent in August, and 18 percent in September 2012. Last month, 74 percent of investors paid cash.

Single-family home sales slipped 1.5 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.68 million in September from 4.75 million in August, but are 10.9 percent above the 4.22 million-unit pace in September 2012. The median existing single-family home price was $199,300 in September, which is 11.4 percent higher than a year ago.
Existing condominium and co-op sales fell 4.7 percent to an annual rate of 610,000 units in September from 640,000 in August, but are 8.9 percent above the 560,000-unit level a year ago. The median existing condo price was $198,600 in September, up 14.2 percent from September 2012.

Regionally, existing-home sales in the Northeast declined 2.8 percent to an annual rate of 690,000 in September, but are 15.0 percent above September 2012. The median price in the Northeast was $240,900, up 2.3 percent from a year ago.

Existing-home sales in the Midwest fell 5.3 percent in September to a pace of 1.25 million, but are 12.6 percent higher than a year ago. The median price in the Midwest was $158,400, which is 9.0 percent above September 2012.

In the South, existing-home sales declined 1.4 percent to an annual level of 2.10 million in September, but are 9.9 percent above September 2012. The median price in the South was $171,600, up 13.9 percent from a year ago.

Existing-home sales in the West rose 1.6 percent to a pace of 1.25 million in September, and are 7.8 percent higher than a year ago. With ongoing inventory restrictions, the median price in the West rose to $286,300, which is 16.8 percent above September 2012.

The National Association of Realtors?, ?The Voice for Real Estate,? is America?s largest trade association, representing 1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries. For additional commentary and consumer information, visit and

NOTE: For local information, please contact the local association of Realtors? for data from local multiple listing services. Local MLS data is the most accurate source of sales and price information in specific areas, although there may be differences in reporting methodology.

Existing-home sales, which include single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, are based on transaction closings from Multiple Listing Services. Changes in sales trends outside of MLSs are not captured in the monthly series. NAR rebenchmarks home sales periodically using other sources to assess overall home sales trends, including sales not reported by MLSs.

Existing-home sales, based on closings, differ from the U.S. Census Bureau?s series on new single-family home sales, which are based on contracts or the acceptance of a deposit. Because of these differences, it is not uncommon for each series to move in different directions in the same month. In addition, existing-home sales, which account for more than 90 percent of total home sales, are based on a much larger data sample ? about 40 percent of multiple listing service data each month ? and typically are not subject to large prior-month revisions.

The annual rate for a particular month represents what the total number of actual sales for a year would be if the relative pace for that month were maintained for 12 consecutive months. Seasonally adjusted annual rates are used in reporting monthly data to factor out seasonal variations in resale activity. For example, home sales volume is normally higher in the summer than in the winter, primarily because of differences in the weather and family buying patterns. However, seasonal factors cannot compensate for abnormal weather patterns.

Single-family data collection began monthly in 1968, while condo data collection began quarterly in 1981; the series were combined in 1999 when monthly collection of condo data began. Prior to this period, single-family homes accounted for more than nine out of 10 purchases. Historic comparisons for total home sales prior to 1999 are based on monthly single-family sales, combined with the corresponding quarterly sales rate for condos.

The median price is where half sold for more and half sold for less; medians are more typical of market conditions than average prices, which are skewed higher by a relatively small share of upper-end transactions. The only valid comparisons for median prices are with the same period a year earlier due to a seasonality in buying patterns. Month-to-month comparisons do not compensate for seasonal changes, especially for the timing of family buying patterns. Changes in the composition of sales can distort median price data. Year-ago median and mean prices sometimes are revised in an automated process if additional data is received.

The national median condo/co-op price often is higher than the median single-family home price because condos are concentrated in higher-cost housing markets. However, in a given area, single-family homes typically sell for more than condos as seen in NAR?s quarterly metro area price reports.

Distressed sales (foreclosures and short sales), days on market, first-time buyers, all-cash transactions and investors are from a monthly survey for the NAR?s Realtors? Confidence Index, posted at, NAR?s listing site, posts metro area median listing price and inventory data at:

Total inventory and month?s supply data are available back through 1999, while single-family inventory and month?s supply are available back to 1982 (prior to 1999, single-family sales accounted for more than 90 percent of transactions and condos were measured only on a quarterly basis).

The Pending Home Sales Index for September will be released October 28 and existing-home sales for October is scheduled for November 20. The 2013 National Association of Realtors? Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, a large survey that evaluates the demographics, preferences, motivations, plans and experiences of recent home buyers and sellers, will be published November 4; all release times are 10:00 a.m. ET.

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