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homebuyer_couple_1026RISMEDIA, October 26, 2009—Existing-home sales bounced back strongly in September with first-time buyers driving much of the activity, marking five gains in the past six months, according to the National Association of Realtors®. Existing-home sales–including single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops–jumped 9.4% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.57 million units in September from a level of 5.10 million in August, and are 9.2% higher than the 5.10 million-unit pace in September 2008. Sales activity is at the highest level in over two years, since it hit 5.73 million in July 2007. 

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said favorable conditions matched with a tax credit are boosting home sales. “Much of the momentum is from people responding to the first-time buyer tax credit, which is freeing many sellers to make a trade and buy another home,” he said. “We are hopeful the tax credit will be extended and possibly expanded to more buyers, at least through the middle of next year, because the rising sales momentum needs to continue for a few additional quarters until we reach a point of a self-sustaining recovery.” 

Even with the improvement, Yun said the market is underperforming. “Despite spectacular gains in the stock market, principally from the financial sector recovery, most of the 75 million home owning families have more wealth tied to their homes. Home values could soon turn consistently positive and help the broad base of middle-class families, but we are not there yet,” he said. “We’re getting early indications of price stabilization, but we need a steady supply of qualified buyers to meaningfully bring inventories down and return us to a period of normal, steady price growth and to fully remove consumer fears, which would then revive the broader economy. Without a firm foundation for middle-class wealth recovery, the post-recession economic growth likely will be one of the weakest in U.S. history.” 

Early information from a large annual consumer study to be released November 13, the 2009 National Association of Realtors® Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, shows that first-time home buyers accounted for more than 45% of home sales during the past year. A separate practitioner survey shows that distressed homes accounted for 29% of transactions in September. 

NAR President Charles McMillan, a broker with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Dallas-Fort Worth, said affordability conditions remain historically high. “Potential first-time buyers can take heart in that affordability conditions this year are the highest on record dating back to 1970, but with the first-time buyer tax credit scheduled to expire at the end of next month, people could hold back from entering the market,” he said. “Our read is that housing overshot on the downside because homes are selling for less than replacement construction costs in much of the country, and the home price-to-income ratio has fallen below the historical average,” McMillan said. 

Total housing inventory at the end of September fell 7.5% to 3.63 million existing homes available for sale, which represents an 7.8-month supply at the current sales pace, down from an 9.3-month supply in August. Unsold inventory totals are 15.0% below a year ago. 

“The current housing supply is the lowest we’ve seen in two and a half years,” Yun said. “If we could continue to absorb inventory at this pace, home prices would return to normal, modest appreciation patterns next year. 

According to Freddie Mac, the national average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage fell to 5.06% in September from 5.19% in August; the rate was 6.04% in September 2008. The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $174,900 in September, which is 8.5% lower than September 2008. Distressed properties continue to downwardly distort the median price because they generally sell at a discount relative to traditional homes in the same area. 

Single-family home sales rose 9.4% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.89 million in September from a pace of 4.47 million in August, and are 7.7% above the 4.54 million-unit level in September 2008. The median existing single-family home price was $174,900 in September, which is 8.1% below a year ago. Existing condominium and co-op sales jumped 9.7% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 680,000 units in September from 620,000 in August, and are 9.7% above the 561,000-unit pace a year ago. The median existing condo price was $175,100 in September, down 11.7% from September 2008. 

Northeast
Regionally, existing-home sales in the Northeast increased 4.4% to an annual level of 950,000 in September, and are 11.8% higher than September 2008. The median price in the Northeast was $234,700, down 7.0% from a year ago. 

Midwest
Existing-home sales in the Midwest jumped 9.6% in September to a pace of 1.25 million and are 7.8% above a year ago. The median price in the Midwest was $147,600, which is 1.0% below September 2008. 

South
In the South, existing-home sales rose 9.0% to an annual level of 2.06 million in September and are 10.8% higher than September 2008. The median price in the South was $153,500, down 7.6% from a year ago. 

West
Existing-home sales in the West surged 13.0% to an annual rate of 1.30 million in September and are 5.7% above a year ago. The median price in the West was $219,000, which is 15.0% below September 2008. 


Sellers Continue To Cut Prices

by Desi Sowers

The asking prices of more than one-fourth of U.S. homes on the market as of Oct. 1, 2009 have been cut at least once, and the average discount is 10 percent, according to the latest Price Reduction Report by Trulia. The total amount slashed from home prices is $28.4 billion, a $967 million increase from June 2009.

Of the 10 states that had the highest percentage of homes with price reductions, five are located in the Northeast — Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Hampshire and New Jersey. Among the states with the largest price cuts, seven are located in the West where price reductions average 13 percent.

Luxury homes — those listed at $2 million or higher — continue to be hit hard. The average price reduction on luxury homes is 14 percent. While they represent less than 2 percent of all current listings on Trulia, luxury homes account for 25 percent of the $28.4 billion in home price reductions, the survey finds.

Very interesting report and thanks to the folks at Trulia for gathering this data.  Here in the New River Valley we are seeing homes that are priced realistically from the start as to avoid price reductions.  There will always be overpriced homes but not from motivated Sellers - and the key word is MOTIVATED!

The Economy is Primed

by Desi Sowers

Feels like Fall is definitely in the air - it's a brisk 51 degrees outside as I write this update!

The Economy is Primed

Ten of Virginia's 15 major employment sectors saw growth in Q2 2009.  In July 2009 CNBC named the Commonwealth the Top State for Business for its economic growth, affordable cost of doing business, talented workforce and other factors.

The surge in business means more competition for homes and future price appreciation.

Remember, with home loan rates still low as well as a juicy tax credit for First Time Home Buyers that is going to expire on November 30th, it makes sense to get off the fence if you've been considering a home purchase .  Or do you have a family member, neighbor, friend or coworker who might benefit from getting some good home loan advice?

I'm always glad to get your referrals, so simply let me know who I might be able to help.

How Full Is The Glass Anyway?

by posted by Desi Sowers

How Full Is The Glass Anyway?

We all know the economy will get even better and that we'll all look back at this time in history with a whole new perspective. In fact it's already improved from just a year ago! What keeps us strong and keeps a nation from failing is hope fueld by optimisism.

"The optimist proclaims we live in the best of all possible worlds; and the pessimist fears this is true." - James Cabell, American novelist and journalist (1879-1958)

What is optimism? It is a belief that things in our past were good for us and taught us lessons even if they were hard. It is also the belief that things will be better in the future.

Contrasts between optimism and pessimism: Optimism breathes life into you each day. Pessimism drains you. Optimism helps you to take needed risks. Pessimism plays it safe and never accomplishes much. Optimism empowers those around you. Pessimism drags them down. Optimism inspires people to greater heights. Pessimism deflates people to new lows. The only way that optimism and pessimism are the same is that they are both self-fulfilled. We choose to look at the world the way we want. Have you ever met a successful pessimist? Become an optimist and see your world change before your eyes. Remember, the glass is always half full -- we're halfway there!

"What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight. Build anyway." - Kent M. Keith

Good News on the Housing Front

by Desi Sowers

Good news on the housing front - after dropping for three years, home prices appear to be stabilizing. 

The median national home price today is about $169,000 which is down almost 14% from a year ago and an estimated 30% from its peak.

The First Time Home Buyer Tax Credit, which Congress recently improved by eliminating the the repayment requirement and increasing the benefit to $8,000 is working.

The credit, coupled with all-time-high housing affordability and continuing low interest rates, is leading to solid inventory improvement in most markets.

I've just posted additional information about the tax credit on my podcast and you can listen by clicking here.

In order to take advantage of the tax credit, you must purchase your home by December 1st - the clock is ticking down!  Please call or email me today if you would like to view homes or need help with getting your financing lined up - I'm happy to help!

OPEN HOUSE - Sunday the 23rd - COME SEE!!

 

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Real Estate Outlook: Growth Mode

by posted by Desi Sowers

Steady jumps in pending home sales and low interest rates continue to lead housing out of the doldrums into growth mode -- and even toward price increases in some hard-hit markets as well.

Last week's 3.6 percent increase in pending sales marked the fifth consecutive month of positive news from this key leading indicator, the first time there's been a string that long since 2003.

Every region of the country saw increases in pending sales in June, according to the National Association of Realtors, which compiles the data based on signed contracts for home sales that haven't yet closed.

Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors, attributed the string of increases in part to first time buyers getting off the sidelines and looking to qualify for federal tax credits.

Another contributing factor is the dramatic improvements in affordability of houses in many markets, sharply lower prices combined with mortgage rates in the mid to lower five percent range.

The national housing affordability index is now 37 percent better than it was just a year ago. The typical family, with a monthly household income at the national median, can now devote just 16 percent of gross income to paying principal and interest on a median priced home financed with a 20 percent downpayment.

That sort of affordability hasn't been seen for decades!

Meanwhile, there are growing reports of multiple offers on low-priced houses for sale in some major markets, along with the first signs of possible price turnarounds.

For example, in the Portland-Vancouver market, resales in June were up 25 percent from May. But more significantly: the median price of homes sold there gained 2.1 percent, according to MDA DataQuick, a research firm.

On the mortgage front, new purchase applications to buy houses rose again last week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. Thirty-year average fixed rates fell to 5.2 percent from 5.4 percent. Fifteen year rates averaged 4.6 percent.

Not all the economic indicators are reading positive for real estate, of course. Unemployment rates in many parts of the country remain in the double digits, consumer confidence is brittle, and gross domestic product, GDP, was down last quarter by one percent, the fourth straight quarterly drop.

But economic forecasters like the Mortgage Bankers' Orawin Velz, see a bright side on the near horizon: The latest GDP negative number is much smaller than the 6 percent plus loss in the previous quarter.

That suggests "the end is near" for the recession, she says, and that's got to be good for housing.

Written by Kenneth R. Harney
August 11, 2009

The Two Latest Signs Housing Is Recovering

by posted by Desi Sowers

Here’s more evidence that the housing market is recovering.

Two major home builders, Toll Brothers Inc. and Hovnanian Enterprises Inc., said their losses were shrinking compared to last year because buyers are coming back to the market.

Other encouraging news came from HIS Global Insight, a research firm, which said home prices fell on average at an annual rate of 2.2 percent in the first quarter in 199 of 330 metropolitan areas. That compares with a 12.5 percent decline in the fourth quarter of 2008 in 312 metropolitan areas.

"While it's too early to see a bottom of this housing downturn," the report said, the latest data "may signal that the market is beginning to stabilize."

Source: The Wall Street Journal, James R. Hagerty and John Spence (06/04/2009)

FHA Key to Housing Rebound

by Desi Sowers

The Federal Housing Administration is a primary source of mortgage financing for millions of America’s families and plays a key role in helping bring stability to the housing market. This is the message that the National Association of Realtors®. delivered to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee today.

“Without FHA financing, families would be unable to purchase homes and communities would suffer from continued foreclosures and blight,” said Lennox Scott, a member of NAR’s Real Estate Advisory Board and CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate in Bellevue, Washington. In his testimony, Scott shared NAR’s belief in the importance of FHA and concern for the safety and soundness of its programs due to its dramatic growth over a short period of time.

“We believe that FHA has done a good job stepping up to today’s market challenges. However, along with the dramatic growth in market share comes greater responsibility and the need for increased infrastructure and staff,” Scott said. Over the past 18 months, FHA has handled an increase in volume four times greater than 2007 levels, increasing its market share to over 30 percent.

Pricing a Home to Sell

by Desi Sowers

 

Did you know the best chance for selling your property is within the first seven weeks?

It's true.

Studies show that the longer a property stays on the market, the less the seller will net upon the sale. It is very important to price your property at a competitive market value at the signing of your listing contract. The market is so competitive that even over-pricing by a few thousand dollars could mean that your house will not sell.

An Overpriced Home:
· Minimizes offers
· Lowers agents response
· Limits qualified buyers
· Lowers showings
· Lowers prospects
· Limits financing
· Wastes advertising dollars
· Nets less for the seller

When you are ready, contact me today for a personal market value analysis of your home. No hassles or obligation - just honest advice on how to get top dollar for your home!  It's easy to get started at www.HomeValuesNRV.com

With Affordability Up, Home Buyers Return to the Market

by submitted by Desi Sowers

Thanks to record low mortgage rates and declining home prices, 55 million families - or half of all U.S. households - can afford today’s $200,000 median-priced new home, according to figures released by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). “That’s an increase of 17 million households from conditions just two years ago and the best housing affordability number we have seen in years,” said NAHB Chairman Joe Robson, a home builder from Tulsa, Okla. “We are now seeing the first signs that buyers are returning to the

marketplace.”

Based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau comparing home prices, mortgage rates and minimum income needed to purchase a median-priced home in February 2007 and February 2009, a typical family today can purchase a house with $20,000 less in household income and save nearly $500 per month on their principal, interest, taxes and insurance. The number of households that can afford to purchase a home today is 55.4 million, compared with 38.4 million two years ago, according to figures compiled by NAHB.

“With affordability up dramatically, reports from our builders in the field indicate that foot traffic in new homes is on the rise and consumer interest is increasing with each passing day. These are encouraging signs that the housing market may be finally reaching a bottom,” said Robson.

Entering the crucial spring home buying season, there are other signs that buyers are starting to return to the market.

Single-family permits were up 11% in February 2009, new and existing home sales also posted gains and the huge inventory backlog is being slowly whittled down. In a survey for Century 21 Real Estate last month among prospective first-time home buyers who indicated they were likely to purchase a home in the next two years, a majority - 78% - said that now is a good time to buy a home. Of those responding to the online poll, 68% said that now is a better time to buy than six months ago.

Another sign that consumers are considering jumping back into the housing market is the growing interest in the $8,000 first-time home buyer tax credit included in the recently enacted economic stimulus package. During February and March 2009, 1.5 million visitors logged on to NAHB’s consumer website, www.federalhousingtaxcredit.com, to learn more about the tax credit. Further, a new survey commissioned by Move, Inc. found that nearly 20% of those who plan to purchase a home this year are doing so to take advantage of the tax credit, which expires at the end of November.

“With home values in many markets at the lowest level since 2003, an $8,000 tax credit available to first-time home buyers, fixed-rate mortgages under 5%, and an outstanding selection of homes to choose from, buyers are starting to recognize that this has the makings for a one-time opportunity to break into the market,” said Robson.

Housing is a critical component of the U.S. economy, accounting for about 15 cents of every dollar spent in this country, so any upturn in the housing market should be viewed as good news for the overall economy, said Robson.

Construction of an additional 500,000 single-family homes - the difference between today’s anemic construction rate and one that would move closer to meeting the underlying demand for housing - would generate 734,000 jobs and $35 billion in wages in the construction industry and another 790,000 jobs and $37.7 billion wages in manufacturing, trade, and service sector jobs, he noted.

Additionally, another half-million housing starts would bolster the tax base for government, generating $45 billion in federal, state and local tax revenues. And the benefits go well beyond the completion of each home. Within the first year after buying a home, those half million households will spend about $2.5 billion more on appliances, furnishings and property alterations.

“Clearly, housing will be central to any economic recovery we experience in the months ahead,” said Robson.

For more information, visit www.nahb.com.

RISMEDIA, April 11, 2009

Displaying blog entries 131-140 of 151

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Photo of Desi Sowers,  Associate Broker,  Real Estate
Desi Sowers, Associate Broker,
Certified Residential Specialist at REMAX 8
1344 N. Main Street
Blacksburg VA 24060
Phone: (540) 320-1328

Each Office Independently Owned and Operated