IN THE NEWS

Friday, November 30, 2012

Despite the impact   of Hurricane Sandy, sales of existing homes for October were up, the National   Association of Realtors reported last week. Completed sales of single-family   homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops for the month grew by 2.1 percent   over September to hit an annual rate of 4.79 million. October’s sales were   10.9 percent higher than the 4.32 million-unit pace set a year earlier in  October 2011.
   
Looking at prices, the national median price in October for existing homes of   all types was $178,600, marking an 11.1 percent gain over prices a year ago.   October’s gain marked the eighth consecutive monthly annual increase in   price. This last occurred in the October 2005 to May 2006 period.
   
Still, distressed homes, such as foreclosures and short sales, which are sold   at deep discounts, accounted for 24 percent of October sales, which was the   same in September. Foreclosures, which made up half of distressed sales, sold   for an average discount of 20 percent below market value in October, while   short sales, which accounted for the other half of total distressed sales,   were discounted 14 percent.
   
The supply of homes for sale at the end of October fell 1.4 percent to 2.14   million existing homes, which amounted to a 5.4-month supply at October’s   sales pace. This was down from 5.6 months in September, and is the lowest   housing supply since February of 2006 when it was 5.2 months.
   
In other real estate news, construction permits issued for private housing in   October were at an annual rate of 866,000, the Census Bureau and Department   of Housing and Urban Development jointly reported last week. This marked a   2.7 percent dip from the September rate of 890,000, but was 29.8 percent over   October 2011’s estimated rate of 667,000. Permits issued for single-family   homes in October were at a rate of 562,000, which was 2.2 percent over the   September figure of 550,000.
   
Construction starts on private housing in October gained 3.6 percent over   September to hit an annual rate of 894,000. This was 41.9 percent over the   October 2011 rate of 630,000. Starts on single-family homes in October were   at a rate of 594,000, which was 0.2 percent below the revised September   figure of 595,000.
   
Completions on construction of private homes in October hit an annual rate of   772,000, a 14.5 percent gain over the revised September estimate of 674,000,   and 33.6 percent over the October 2011 rate of 578,000. Single-family housing   completions in October were at a rate of 542,000, which was 3.4 percent over   the revised September rate of 524,000.
   
Turning to employment news, the number of initial claims for jobless benefits   filed during the week ending Nov. 17 dipped to 410,000, a decrease of 41,000   from the previous week’s revised figure of 451,000, the Employment and   Training Administration Reported. The four-week moving average was 396,250,   an increase of 9,500 from the previous week’s revised average of 386,750.
   

The total number of insured unemployed Americans during the week ending Nov.   10 was 3,337,000, a decrease of 30,000 from the preceding week’s revised   level of 3,367,000, the Administration also reported. The four-week moving   average was 3,285,000, an increase of 19,500 from the preceding week’s   revised average of 3,265,500.
   
All in all, the economy looks to be seeing a slight upward trend, according   to The Conference Board’s Leading Economic Index (LEI), which increased 0.2   percent in October to 96 (a baseline of 100 was set in 2004), following a 0.5   percent increase in September, and a 0.4 percent decline in August. The   composite economic index summarizes several key economic statistics, such as   average weekly hours, new orders for manufacturers, common stocks, credit   indexes, and interest rates. 
   

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