The S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices are a leading measure of U.S. home prices. The latest release, which covers data through the end of April, found prices up 1.3 percent from March. It was the first price increase after seven consecutive months of falling prices. David Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at S&P Indices, said 19 of the 20 major metropolitan areas included in the survey saw price increases in April and 18 of the 20 saw better annual rates of return. According to Blitzer, it’s been a long time since there’s been such broad-based gains and the combination of rising monthly levels and improving year-over-year returns are a good sign for housing. Out of the 20 cities covered by the index, 10 experienced price increases over last year’s levels, including Boston, Charlotte, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Miami, Minneapolis, Phoenix, Tampa, and Washington D.C. More here and here.
Adding to a number of recent home price reports showing increasing values, CoreLogic’s April Home Price Index finds national values on the rise. Including distressed sales, prices were up 2.2 percent in April over March and, compared to April 2011, prices increased 1.1 percent. It was the second consecutive year-over-year increase and the first time back-to-back gains were recorded since June 2010. Excluding distressed sales, prices increased 2.6 percent over March and were up 1.9 percent over year-before levels. Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic, said consistent month-over-month increases are a sign that the housing market is stabilizing. According to Nallathambi, prices are responding to lower inventory levels which is an optimistic sign for the market. More here and here.
The Federal Housing Finance Agency’s home price index posted its first year-over-year improvement since 2007 in a report that also included quarterly and monthly gains. According to the index, which is calculated using sales price data from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgages, home values rose 0.5 percent from the first quarter of 2011 to the first quarter of this year. Prices also showed a quarterly increase of 0.6 percent and a 1.8 percent jump between March and April. Andrew Leventis, FHFA’s principal economist, said increased affordability and decreasing inventory are positively impacting home prices and the data is consistent with other housing market indicators showing stronger prices in the first quarter. More here and here.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Department of Commerce released their New Residential Sales report for April. According to the report, sales of new single-family homes rose 3.3 percent over March’s revised rate and are 9.9 percent above year-before levels. The gains put new-home sales at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 343,000, up from March’s revised rate of 332,000. The median sales price of new homes sold in April was $235,700; the average was $282,600. At the current sales pace, there was a 5.1-month supply of new homes available for sale at the end of the month. More here and here.
The National Association of Realtors’ existing-home sales report for April shows a 3.4 percent rise in sales of previously owned homes. Total existing-home sales, which include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums, and co-ops, rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.62 million, up from March’s 4.47 million. The improvement put sales 10 percent higher than the level seen in April 2011. Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, said it’s no longer just investors taking advantage of affordability levels and the return of regular home buyers is helping home sales and prices. The national median existing-home price surged to $177,400 in April, a 10.1 percent increase over last year. Also, there were 2.54 million homes available for sale at the end of April, which is a 6.6-month supply at the current sales pace. More here and here.
According to estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, privately-owned housing starts in April were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 717,000. That’s 2.6 percent above March’s revised number and 29.9 percent above April 2011. Single-family housing starts were also up in April, rising 2.3 percent from the month before. And though total building permits fell after rising 4.5 percent in March, single-family authorizations were at a rate of 475,000, which is a 1.9 percent increase over March’s revised figure of 466,000. More here.
Gallup’s Job Creation Index rose another two points in April, increasing to 20 from 18 in March. The index, which began tracking job growth in January 2008, is at its highest level since July of that year and is approaching the highest score ever recorded by the index. Regionally, the Midwest and South led in job creation, with the West and East close behind. The West led all regions in year-over-year improvement, rising nine points from a year ago. Gallup’s survey also found that private-sector job growth continues to perform better than government employment. The Job Creation Index for the private sector was at 25 in April, while government job growth has been in negative territory since late last year. More here.
According to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Weekly Applications Survey, the Market Composite Index, which measures total mortgage loan application volume, was relatively flat last week, rising just 0.1 percent from the previous week. The slight increase was due to a 2.9 percent increase in the Purchase Index, which is now 3.0 percent higher than last year’s level. Refinance activity was also flat, falling less than one percent. The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages increased to 4.05 percent from 4.04 percent the previous week. The rate for jumbo loans moved up to 4.32 percent. Also in the report, the investor share of purchase application demand fell to 5.7 percent in March, decreasing from 6.1 percent in February. More here.
According to the National Association of Realtors, pending home sales rose 4.1 percent in March and are 12.8 percent above year-before levels. Pending sales, which reflect contract signings but not closings, are now at their highest level since April 2010. Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, said first-quarter sales data shows that it was the best first quarter in five years and, based on contract signings, the second quarter should be equally good. Regionally, pending sales were highest in the West and the South. The South was up 5.9 percent from February and the West rose 8.7 percent. All regions increased from last year, with the Midwest up 16.9 percent and the Northeast 21.1 percent above March 2011. According to Yun, 2012 will be a year of recovery for the housing market. More here.
Sales of previously owned homes were down 2.6 percent in March but gained 5.2 percent from last year’s levels. According to the National Association of Realtors, existing-home sales, which include single-family, townhomes, condominiums, and co-ops, fell to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.48 million in March from an upwardly revised 4.60 million the month before. But despite the dip in month-over-month sales, the March report contained encouraging signs for the housing market. Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, said there have been nine consecutive months of year-over-year sales increases and with job growth, low mortgage rates, and affordable prices, the demand is coming to the market. Also in the report, the supply of available homes is 21.8 percent below last year’s level, after a 1.3 percent decline in inventory in March. And the median existing-home price was $163,800, which is an increase of 2.5 percent over last year. More here.