Articles Posted in Residential Home Purchases

Home-price appreciation is increasing across most of the U.S., demonstrating that the housing market is turning around after the most severe downturn since the Great Depression. Prices rose by 8.1% in January from the previous year, the largest gain in six and a half years in twenty major metropolitan cities.

Prices typically decrease in the winter months, but rose 1% in January from December, when prices usually fall. Housing demand is growing, while the number of homes for sale has fallen to the lowest number in decades.

Lower mortgage rates are helping homeowners qualify for a mortgage without a big increase in monthly payments. Supply shortages were caused by homeowners unwilling to sell their home because prices had declined, and builders have also not been constructing as rapidly due to competition from bank foreclosures.

Homebuilders began working at a slower pace in January than December, but the decrease occurred in the area of apartment construction, which dropped twenty-four percent. However, the rate of single-family homebuilding increased 0.8 percent.

Even though there was a decline, home construction in January was the third-highest since 2008 and demonstrates continued strengthening in residential real estate. Another promising sign is that building permits, which signals future construction, are at their highest point since mid-2008.

The Commerce Department stated that builders started work at an annual rate of 890,000 homes last month, which was down 8.5 percent from December. Analysts did expect a decline in January because of the sharp gain in December.

After many slow years, home building is now steadily contributing to economic growth. An important factor has been the expansion of multifamily construction, such as apartment buildings and condominiums.

Because of the housing crisis, homeownership is down especially among younger households. Also, the total number of households is down compared to where it should be considering the population growth. This current trend has translated into potential for household formation, with most of them expected to become renters as market conditions improve.

The result for the building industry has been an increase in demand for rental units, which has reduced rental vacancy and increased demand for multifamily construction. The number of empty rental units has decreased greatly in the last two years according to the Census Bureau; the current measure is comparable to numbers seen in early 2002.

Home sales have risen compared to the same month in the previous year for eighteen straight months. December home sales were close to thirteen percent above the levels of a year ago. For 2012, sales were up 9% to 4.65 million, which is the highest annual sales total since 2007.

Prices are picking up this year because the number of homes for sale continues to drop. The number of homes for sale at the end of 2012 fell to 1.82 million, which is a 21.6% decline from one year earlier. The six reasons why inventory has continuously dropped are:

1. Many homeowners are underwater: More than ten million homeowners owe more on their mortgage than their homes are actually worth, which is 22% of homeowners with a mortgage, and 15% of all homeowners. Underwater homeowners are not likely to sell because they will damage their credit in a short sale where the bank allows then to sell for less than the amount owed. Because of this, inventory has been controlled where there is a large concentration of underwater homeowners.

Many people who receive rental income from properties such as apartment buildings, single-family homes and retail shops will be hit with an investment surtax of 3.8% that began on January 1, 2013. This Medicare tax, which was passed as part of the Affordable Healthcare Act in 2010, will not affect real estate companies or those who work fill-time managing their real-estate portfolio.

This new tax will affect high-earning professionals, such as doctors, lawyers and others who have full-time jobs and invest in real estate on the side. This tax covers all other types of investment income as well, such as dividends, capital gains and interest from banks or bonds.

An attorney stated, “We know for certain the Medicare tax is here to stay. I think there might have been some question if the tax would be a bargaining chip in the fiscal cliff negotiations. It was not.” The passage of this legislation raised the permanent top rate on Americans with incomes of $400,000 for singles filing, or $450,000 for married couples.

Single-family home startups increased twenty five percent in 2012 nationwide from 2011. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) predicts that newly constructed homes will also increase another 35% in 2013. This momentum has provided hope that home building will again support the economic recovery.

The industry’s recovery may be slow due to the need to rebuild its workforce and supply of undeveloped lots. Chief economist of the National Association of Home Builders stated that the industry is “getting better, but we were very ill, and the convalescence period will be very long.”

NAHB reported that the index of U.S. builder sentiment reached its highest level in more than six years in December 2012. Overall, home builders are benefitting from the improving situation that is aiding the existing home market.

A measure of U.S. home prices jumped five percent in September 2012 in comparison with September 2011. This is the largest comparative growth since 2006. This increase evidences a sustainable housing recovery.

The real estate data shows that prices declined 0.3 percent from August to September, but that monthly figures are not seasonally adjusted. The monthly decline undoubtedly reflects the end of summer home-buying season and not a weakening of the housing recovery.

There have been other indications of the housing recovery in the past year, the Standard & Poor’s/Case Shiller 20-city index improved two percent in August compared to a year ago. The Standard & Poor’s/Case Shiller 20-city index is a constant-quality house price index, using data collected from repeat sales of single-family homes.

For the fifteenth straight month, the number of single-family homes and condos put under agreement has increased compared to the same month from the previous year according to the Massachusetts Association of Realtors. The pending numbers are a great indicator of actual housing sales for the upcoming two to three months.

A realty broker in Newburyport said, “With another pending sales increase in July, our confidence that the market is getting closer to recovery also increases. The significant boost in homes put under agreement compared to last year means closed sales should continue to remain positive through the fall.”

The number of single-family homes under agreement in July is 4, 694, which is 33.6 percent higher than last year’s number of 3,514 for the same month. The number of condos put under agreement is 1,752, which is up thirty percent compared to July of last year at 1,349 units. However, this figure is down 11.8 percent from June of this year.

The number of single-family homes sold last month was the highest monthly total in almost two years in the state. 4,510 single-family homes were sold in May, and increase of close to 35 percent from last years total of 3,350.

The Warren Group, a Boston company that tracks real estate, stated that the total number of homes sold in May was the largest number of single-family homes sold in Massachusetts since June of 2010.

The average price for single-family homes sold in May decreased by more than three percent, from $300,000 a year ago to $289, 950. Even though the average price is lower than last year, it is the highest average sales price recorded so far this year.

June was the strongest month for home sales in Massachusetts in two years. 5,498 single-family homes were sold last month, this is a twenty six percent increase from June 2011. This marked the highest volume of sales during any month since June of 2010.

Condominium sales also jumped in June. 2,216 condominiums were sold, which is almost twenty nine percent more than June of last year.

The increases are even more significant because they come without the benefit of the federal home buyers tax credit that was offered in 2010.The chief executive of Warren Group, a Boston company that tracks local real estate, said, “This is just the beginning of a long slow climb out of the depths of a long lousy market.”

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