Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Home prices rise 12.4% in July – highest in 7½ years


WASHINGTON (AP) – Sept. 24, 2013 – U.S. home prices rose 12.4 percent in July compared with a year ago, the most since February 2006. An increase in sales on a limited supply of available homes drove the gains.

The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index reported Tuesday improved from June, when it rose 12.1 percent from a year ago. And all 20 cities posted gains in July from the previous month and compared with a year ago.

Still, the month-over-month price gains shrank in 15 cities in July compared with the previous month, indicating prices may be peaking.

Stan Humphries, chief economist for real estate data provider Zillow, said home prices should continue to rise but at a slower pace. Mortgage rates have increased more than a full percentage point since May. And more homes are being built. That should ease supply constraints that have inflated prices in some markets.

“This ongoing moderation is good for the market overall,” Humphries said.

Home prices soared 27.5 percent in Las Vegas from a year earlier, the largest gain. San Francisco’s 24.8 percent jump was the second largest and the biggest yearly return for that city since March 2001.

The index covers roughly half of U.S. homes. It measures prices, compares them with those in January 2000 and creates a three-month moving average. The July figures are the latest available. They are not adjusted for seasonal variations, so the monthly gains reflect more buying activity over the summer.

Since bottoming out in March 2012, home prices have rebounded about 21 percent. They remain about 22 percent below the peak reached in July 2006.

The housing market has been recovering over the past year, helped by steady job growth, low mortgage rates and relatively low prices.

Sales of previously occupied homes rose in August to a seasonally adjusted 5.5 million annual pace, according to the National Association of Realtors. That’s a healthy level and the highest in more than six years.

But the Realtors’ group cautioned that the August pace could represent a temporary peak. The gain reflected closings and largely occurred because many buyers rushed to lock in mortgage rates in June and July before they increased further. The Realtors said buyer traffic dropped off noticeably in August, likely reflecting the higher rates.

The average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage was 4.5 percent last week. That’s near a two-year high. It’s still low by historical standards.

Rates rose in May after Chairman Ben Bernanke suggested the Federal Reserve could slow its bond purchase program before the end of the year.

But the Fed surprised markets last week by deciding against reducing the $85-billion-a-month in bond buys, which have kept longer-term interest rates low. The Fed said a key reason for its decision was the sharp increase in mortgage rates and other interest rates.

The Fed’s decision could ease rates temporarily, although many economists expect the Fed will ultimately slow the purchases, perhaps as early as December. Rates would likely rise after that.

Friday, September 20, 2013


Naples, Fla. (September 20, 2013) - The Naples area real estate market continues to see its median home price shift upward for the 14th consecutive month according to a report released by the Naples Area Board of REALTORS® (NABOR®), which tracks home listings and sales within Collier County (excluding Marco Island). The median home price has been on a steady incline from $175,000 in December 2011 to $229,000 in August 2013.  

The Median Home Price is a mathematical result of home sale prices wherein one half of the group is higher and one half lower than the indicated median home price. (See August 2013 Market Statistics, Median Home Price chart, page 2, link below).

John Steinwand, Broker and Principal at Naples Realty Services, Inc., stated, "Home sales, particularly condo sales in the $1-$2 million price category, have been quite impressive. Statistics show a 53 percent increase, from 173 units to 264 units sold in that market for the 12 month period ending August 2013."

NABOR® officials point to three market indicators that are contributing to steady sales:
  1. Rising median home prices,
  2. New construction, and
  3. National chain interest in the Naples area.
"Our commercial market is showing improvement, particularly those properties that were once empty shopping centers. National chains are signing leases in our area," said Wes Kunkle, NABOR® President and Commercial Broker at Kunkle Realty, LLC. "Burlington Coat Factory and Hobby Lobby have signed leases to join Chuck E. Cheese at Granada Shoppes, and Culvers has chosen Naples as its first Florida franchise location. We consider a surge in large retailer interest in Naples a clear indication that these corporations are confident the Naples area is ripe for residential growth."

"Our office is seeing an increase in requests for proposed residential new construction appraisals," says Cindy Carroll, SRA, with the real estate appraisal and consultancy firm Carroll & Carroll. "Alternately, the report shows a low inventory of 3,225 homes priced under $500,000 in August 2013 which is 29 percent lower than the inventory of 4,151 in August 2012 in that price category."

And according to Kathy Zorn, Broker, Florida Home Realty, "The median home price increase has risen consistently though gradually alongside August sales, demonstrating a continually improving market."

The NABOR® August 2013 report provides annual comparisons of single-family home and condominium sales (via the new Southwest Florida MLS), price ranges, and geographic segmentation and includes an Overall Market summary. The NABOR® August sales statistics are presented in chart format, with these overall (single-family and condominium units) specifics: 
  • The overall median closed price increased 19 percent from $192,000 to $229,000 for the 12-month period ending August 2013.
  • Overall pending sales increased 8 percent from 10,315 units to 11,178 units for the 12-month period ending August 2013. Overall pending sales increased 32 percent in the $300,000-$500,000 category, from 1,462 units to 1,933 units, and increased 30 percent in the $2 million and above category, from 273 units to 354 units, for the 12-month period ending August 2013.
  • The overall average Days on Market (DOM) is just over five months, reflecting a 12 percent decrease from 177 days on the market in August 2012 to 155 days in August 2013.
  • Overall inventory decreased by 19 percent, from 6,043 listed properties in August 2012 to 4,913 in August 2013. Pending sales with contingent contracts are included in the overall inventory number.
  • Overall pending sales in the Naples coastal area increased 15 percent from 1,950 units to 2,233 units, and closed sales also increased 15 percent, from 1,750 units to 2,019 units, for the 12-month period ending August 2013. 
  • Condominium pending sales increased 54 percent in the $2 million and above category from 74 units in August 2012 to 114 units in August 2013. 

"This has been a better summer for home sales across the board than we have seen in years," said Mike Hughes, Vice President and General Manager of Downing-Frye Realty, who added that many of the local real estate brokerages have seen steady sales throughout 2013. "This is a little unusual as there has not really been a so called 'off season' so far. Buyers don't want to miss opportunities because of the low inventory so they are making purchasing decisions throughout the summer season, which is traditionally slower."

The Naples Area Board of REALTORS® (NABOR®) is an established organization (Chartered in 1949) whose members have a positive and progressive impact on the Naples Community. NABOR® is a local board of REALTORS® and real estate professionals with a legacy of nearly 60 years serving 4,000 plus members. NABOR® is a member of the Florida Realtors and the National Association of REALTORS®, which is the largest association in the United States with more than 1.3 million members and over 1,400 local board of REALTORS® nationwide. NABOR® is structured to provide programs and services to its membership through various committees and the NABOR® Board of Directors, all of whose members are non-paid volunteers.

The term REALTOR® is a registered collective membership mark which identifies a real estate professional who is a member of the National Association of REALTORS® and who subscribe to its strict Code of Ethics. 

To view the entire report, visit www.NaplesArea.com

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Fla.’s housing market continued upswing in Aug. 2013


ORLANDO, Fla., Sept. 19, 2013 – Florida’s housing market continued its positive trend in August with increased closed sales, higher median prices, more pending sales and a stable supply of homes for sale, according to the latest housing data released by Florida Realtors®.

“Both sales and prices demonstrate that Florida’s housing market is growing and continuing to gain strength,” says 2013 Florida Realtors President Dean Asher, broker-owner with Don Asher & Associates Inc. in Orlando. “The growth in jobs and other positive signs are putting buyers at ease with how the economy is progressing. At the same time, prices are encouraging sellers to get off the fence and helping to ease inventory pressures.

“August is the 20th month in a row that we’ve seen the statewide single-family home median sales price increase year-over-year.”

Statewide closed sales of existing single-family homes totaled 20,933 in August, up 12.5 percent compared to the year-ago figure, according to data from Florida Realtors Industry Data and Analysis department in partnership with local Realtor boards/associations. Closed sales typically occur 30 to 90 days after sales contracts are written.

Meanwhile, pending sales – contracts signed but not yet completed or closed – for existing single-family homes rose 17.2 percent over the previous August. The statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes last month was $175,000, up 18.6 percent from the previous year.
According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the national median sales price for existing single-family homes in July 2013 was $214,000, up 13.5 percent from the previous year. In California, the statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes in July was $433,760; in Massachusetts, it was $350,000; in Maryland, it was $286,758; and in New York, it was $241,947.

The median is the midpoint; half the homes sold for more, half for less. Housing industry analysts note that sales of foreclosures and other distressed properties downwardly distort the median price because they generally sell at a discount relative to traditional homes.

Looking at townhouse-condos, a total of 9,491 units sold statewide last month, up 6.3 percent from August 2012. Meanwhile, pending sales for townhouse-condos last month increased 11.6 percent year-to-year. The statewide median price for townhouse-condo properties was $130,000, up 25.2 percent over the previous year. NAR reported that the national median existing condo price in July 2013 was $209,600.

The inventory for single-family homes stood at a 5.1-months’ supply in August; inventory for townhouse-condos was at a 5.2-months’ supply, according to Florida Realtors.

“The most striking feature of this month’s data relates to new listings and inventory,” says Florida Realtors Chief Economist Dr. John Tuccillo. “Each month in 2013 has seen a rise year-over-year in new listings for both single family homes and townhouses and condos, with the exception of March for condo/townhomes. Balancing out the growth in closed sales, the increase in new listings has contributed to steady inventory. Single-family-home inventory is now at 5.1 months for August 2013, after holding steady at a 5-months supply in May through July. Condo/townhome inventory remains at a 5.2 months supply for the third month in a row.

“Combined with a relative decline in cash sales, this suggests that the pressure on inventories that has plagued the Florida market may be easing.”

According to Freddie Mac, the interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.46 percent in August 2013, up from the 3.60 percent average recorded during the same month a year earlier.

To see the full statewide housing activity reports, go to Florida Realtors Media Center under Latest Releases, or download the August 2013 data report PDFs under Market Data on Florida Realtors’ website

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

S. Fla. growing at 3.5% thanks to real estate surge


MIAMI – Sept. 18, 2013 – Real estate, once again, can be found at the head of South Florida’s economic pack.

New output numbers released Tuesday show real estate as the No. 1 contributor to economic growth last year, accounting for 31 cents of every new dollar added to the tri-county area’s $274 billion economy. Overall, the economy grew by 3.5 percent, the sharpest increase since 2006 and well ahead of the national metropolitan average of 2.5 percent.

“Overall, I think it’s a pretty good number,” said Robert Cruz, official economist for Miami-Dade County. He noted that of Florida’s largest economies, South Florida had the sharpest growth in 2012.

Real estate’s return as a major economic engine comes amid rising property values and a return of cranes in downtown Miami as developers again see profits in one of the most ravaged housing markets in the country.

“Real estate is really the foundation for this area. It’s crucial for the recovery,” said Tony Villamil, a private economist and dean of the business school at St. Thomas University.

In 2012, the real estate sector – which is driven by rents, property values and commercial transactions – contributed about $52 billion to the combined economies of Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach. That was 8.4 percent better than in 2011, and the best showing since 2006.

The real estate numbers were one data point in the annual metropolitan report card issued by the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis. The annual numbers mirror the quarterly Gross Domestic Product reports that track the health of the national economy.

In general, the report showed metropolitan areas faring well in 2012, with most sectors gaining. Financial services, a category that includes real estate, helped drive growth across the country, as did manufacturing and the category that includes retail.

Government dollars were basically flat in 2012. Though down by $19 million, that still represented less than a 1 percent decline. The data does not cover the start of the automatic federal spending cuts called “the sequester,” which began in March. But the numbers do reflect cutbacks in spending at the end of Washington’s $800 billion stimulus program and as Miami-Dade governments grapple with ongoing budget squeezes. The decline shows a bottoming out of spending cuts, with 2010 and 2011 seeing government output down by between $100 million and $200 million.

In South Florida, the education sector was the No. 1 drag on output, with a 7 percent decline. The figures are preliminary, so the sharp decline may moderate as BEA revises its numbers.

Copyright © 2013 The Miami Herald. Distributed by MCT Information Services.