Florida Home Sales Up 23.8% and Condo Up 17.7% in Dec.

24 01 2020

The holiday season was a time of good cheer for Florida’s housing market, with more closed sales, higher median prices and increased pending sales, plus more pending inventory in December 2019 compared to a year ago, according to the latest housing data released by Florida Realtors®.

Sales of single-family homes statewide totaled 25,557 last month, up 23.8% from December 2018.

Florida condo-townhouse sales were up 17.7% year-to-year. The statewide median price for single-family homes rose 5.9% to $270K, and condo-townhouse prices were up 8.1% to $200K. Pending inventory and new pending sales also rose statewide in both categories.

“Continued low interest rates are sparking buyer demand across Florida; however, a constrained supply and tight inventory of for-sale homes is putting pressure on home prices to rise,” says 2020 Florida Realtors President Barry Grooms, a Realtor and co-owner of Sarabay Suncoast Realty Inc. in Bradenton. “Existing single-family homes had a 3.4 months’ supply of inventory in December, while condo-townhouse properties showed a 5.2 months’ supply. In a positive sign, new pending sales rose 11.9% for single-family existing homes last month and new pending sales for condo-townhouse units increased 8.3%.

“Buying or selling a home can be a complex process, but a local Realtor stands ready to help.”

Statewide median sales prices for both single-family homes and condo-townhouse properties in December rose year-over-year for 96 months in a row. The statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes was $270,000, up 5.9% from the previous year, according to data from Florida Realtors Research Department in partnership with local Realtor boards/associations. Last month’s statewide median price for condo-townhouse units was $200,000, up 8.1% over the year-ago figure. The median is the midpoint; half the homes sold for more, half for less.

According to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR), the national median sales price for existing single-family homes in November 2019 was $274,000, up 5.4% from the previous year; the national median existing condo price was $248,200. In California, the statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes in November was $589,770; in Massachusetts, it was $405,000; in Maryland, it was $301,000; and in New York, it was $280,000.

Looking at Florida’s condo-townhouse market in December, statewide closed sales totaled 9,605, up 17.7% from the level a year ago. Closed sales may occur from 30- to 90-plus days after sales contracts are written.

Florida Realtors Chief Economist Dr. Brad O’Connor points out that Florida’s housing market this December showed very different data trends than the previous year. In December 2018, the state was experiencing weak existing home sales growth and rising inventory levels driven in part by higher interest rates, a troubled stock market and uneasiness generated by an impending shutdown of the federal government, according to O’Connor.

“Closed sales of existing single-family homes were up by nearly 24% compared to last December, while closings in the condo-townhouse category were up by almost 18%,” he says. “So why such a big jump? Well, part of it is explained by the fact that sales were unusually weak at the end of 2018, driven in part by a sharp increase in the average 30-year mortgage rate.

Of course, that doesn’t explain the entire increase in sales, he adds.

“The average 30-year mortgage rate spent the entire second half of 2019 in the range of 3.5% to 3.8%, flirting with historical lows,” O’Connor says. “And in the months since the mid-year yield curve scare that spooked the financial markets, the Federal Reserve has dropped the federal funds rate three times, restoring calm to the national economy. Here in Florida, we saw new pending sales for both property types begin surging in October, and now, with the December figures, we see a significant share of those deals successfully closed by year’s end.

According to Freddie Mac, the interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.72% in December 2019, down from the 4.6% averaged during the same month a year earlier.

Source: Floridarealtors.org.





Housing sales, inventory trending up in Florida

4 12 2018

Florida’s housing market reported more closed sales, rising median prices and more new listings in October compared to a year ago, according to the latest housing data released by Florida Realtors®. Sales of single-family homes statewide totaled 22,272 last month, up 8.5 percent compared to October 2017.

October marked 82 consecutive months (more than six and a half years) that statewide median sales prices for both single-family homes and condo-townhouse properties increased year-over-year.

Rising interest rates are having a ripple effect across the housing market as the Federal Reserve increases borrowing costs. Analysts expect the Fed to raise rates again a few times in 2019. Areas with strong job or population growth, like Florida, may be able to weather higher mortgage rates, analysts say.

According to Freddie Mac, the interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.83 percent in October 2018, up from the 3.90 percent averaged during the same month a year earlier.





Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to Accept 3% Down Payment Mortgages

21 10 2014

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are close to allowing consumers to buy a home with as little as a 3 percent down payment and still have the mortgages backed by the two agencies.

More details are expected to be announced in coming weeks, but the move from a 5 percent down payment could increase the ability of creditworthy but cash–strapped consumers to become homeowners and help a faltering housing market regain its traction. Both agencies at one point had accepted 3 percent down payments. Fannie Mae stopped accepting loans with 3 percent down payments last year, while Freddie Mac stopped accepting them in June 2011.

“Through these revised guidelines, we believe that the enterprises will be able to responsibly serve a targeted segment of creditworthy borrowers with lower down payment mortgages by taking into account compensating factors,” said Mel Watt, director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Fannie and Freddie’s overseer, during a speech Monday at the Mortgage Bankers Association’s annual convention in Las Vegas. “It is yet another much-needed piece to the broader access-to-credit puzzle.”

Watt also announced other policy initiatives to make lenders more comfortable with the federal government’s mortgage purchase guidelines in the hope it will loosen their purse strings.

“It’s a very big deal,” said Dan Gjeldum, a senior vice president at mortgage lender Guaranteed Rate. “It will dramatically reduce the expense for a first-time homebuyer. The easier it is to do business with the agency, the easier it’s going to be for consumers to work with mortgage companies.”

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac do not originate mortgages directly to homebuyers. Instead, lenders sell mortgages that meet certain criteria to the two agencies, which in turn package them into securities and sell them to investors. The investments are guaranteed, which means that investors recoup losses if the homeowner defaults. Fannie and Freddie can force lenders to repurchase bad loans.

The upshot of those assurances is a more cautious lending environment that is leaving some would-be buyers on the sidelines.

Watt said Monday the FHFA was taking steps to clarify the circumstances under which Fannie and Freddie could force a lender to repurchase a loan, in an effort to reduce lender confusion. “I hope our actions provide sufficient certainty to enable your companies to reassess existing credit overlays and more aggressively make responsible loans available to creditworthy borrowers,” Watt said in prepared remarks distributed by the FHFA.

In its most recent report, the FHFA said the average FICO credit score of borrowers was 744 for Fannie Mae and 742 for Freddie Mac, lower than at the end of 2013. FICO scores range from 300 to 850.

Borrowers who put down less than 20 percent on a home purchase typically pay mortgage insurance that continues until their equity in the home reaches 20 percent. Reducing the down payment requirement to 3 percent from 5 percent will require a longer period of mortgage insurance and benefit mortgage insurance providers.

Homebuyers with lesser credit scores and smaller down payments traditionally flocked to mortgages backed by the Federal Housing Administration that required down payments of only 3.5 percent. However, to aid the agency’s finances, the upfront fees and monthly insurance premiums associated with those loans have increased, reducing demand for them and keeping more first-time buyers on the sidelines.

Watt’s announcement is the latest step in the federal government’s effort to continue a housing market recovery that has stagnated lately, confounding industry watchers. Last month, Fannie Mae shortened the waiting period that homeowners who have gone through a bankruptcy, a foreclosure or a short sale must wait before they can again purchase a home.

Addressing the convention earlier Monday, David Stevens, president and CEO of the mortgage bankers, noted that 2014 purchase loan originations are expected to be more than 10 percent below last year’s level.

Even billionaire Warren Buffett has recently weighed in on the market’s malaise, saying he didn’t understand why low interest rates and economic improvement weren’t fueling a housing market recovery. “You would think that people would be lining up now to get mortgages to buy a home,” he said at a conference this month.

At one point, there was speculation that the average interest rate on a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage would hit 5 percent by year’s end, but analysts now think that threshold won’t be hit until halfway through 2015. Last week, the average fixed interest rate on a 30-year mortgage was 3.97 percent, the lowest it’s been since June 2013.

However, most consumers rarely see rates that low because Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, as well as extra-cautious lenders, tack on credit overlays tied to consumers’ down payment amounts and credit scores.

“Mortgages are still tough to get,” said Pradeep Shukla, president of the Mainstreet Organization of Realtors. “Lenders are still extra cautious. On the whole, what is most important is consumer confidence and that is still lacking.”

Source: Chicago Tribune





Residential Real Estate Price Growth is Strongest Since 2005

4 02 2014

Home prices — both nationwide and in Jacksonville — are on the rise, according to a report from CoreLogic.

Across the United States, home prices have increased 11 percent from December 2012 to December 2013, including distressed sales.

The CoreLogic Home Price Index report on Tuesday reported the 22nd consecutive monthly year-over-year increase in US home prices based on Multiple Listing Service data.

In Jacksonville, home prices increased 9 percent including distressed sales and 11.5 percent when distressed sales are excluded, on a year-over-year basis.

Sales jumped 1.5 percent from November to December.

The CoreLogic report follows a report from RealtyShack showing an increase in home flipping.

See the full CoreLogic report here.

Source: CoreLogic and Jacksonville Business Journal





Florida’s Residential Real Estate Recovery on Strong Footing

12 02 2013

Closed sales, pending sales and median prices all rose in Florida in 2012, while the inventory of homes for sale shrank compared with 2011, Florida Realtors reported.

“Throughout 2012, we’ve seen increasingly strong signs that the state’s housing market is in solid recovery,” 2013 Florida Realtors President Dean Asher said in a news release.

Asher, broker and owner of Don Asher & Associates in Orlando, said several factors are spurring the recovery forward, including strong job creation and low interest rates on mortgages.

“These positive fundamentals in the housing sector continue to attract potential homeowners and investors; however, they’re facing a limited inventory of available for-sale homes in many areas,” he said.

Statewide closed sales of existing single-family homes totaled 204,414 in 2012, up 8.5 percent from 2011, according to data from Florida Realtors’ industry data and analysis department in partnership with local Realtor boards and associations.

In the fourth quarter, closed sales of single-family existing homes totaled 52,624, up 21.2 percent from the same time a year ago. Closed sales typically occur 30 to 90 days after sales contracts are written.

Pending sales, contracts that are signed but not closed, for existing single-family homes rose 17.6 percent in 2012 from 2011’s figure. The statewide median sale price for single-family existing homes in 2012 was $145,000, up 9 percent from the previous year.

Looking at the fourth quarter of 2012, the statewide single-family, existing-home median price was $150,000, up 11.1 percent from the same quarter a year ago.

According to the National Association of Realtors, the preliminary national median sale price for existing single-family homes for all of 2012 was $176,600, up 6.3 percent from 2011, which was the strongest annual price gain since 2005.

In California, the statewide median sale price for single-family existing homes for 2012 was a preliminary $319,340; in Massachusetts it was $298,000; in New York it was $215,000; and in Illinois it was $139,000.

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

Looking at Florida’s year-to-year comparison for sales of townhouses and condos, a total of 101,876 units sold statewide in 2012, up 2 percent from 2011. Pending sales for townhouses and condos for the year increased 6.2 percent from 2011.

The statewide median sale price for townhouse and condo properties in 2012 was $106,000, up 17.8 percent over the previous year. In the fourth quarter, closed sales of townhouses and condos totaled 24,743, up 14.3 percent from the same time a year ago. Pending sales of townhomes and condos rose 21.6 percent over the same quarter a year ago.

The statewide median price for townhomes and condos in the fourth quarter was $111,900, up 24.3 percent year-to-year.

The inventory for single-family homes stood at a 5.5-months’ supply for the fourth quarter and inventory for townhouses and condos was at a six-months’ supply for the same period, according to Florida Realtors.

“To an extent, we have seen these numbers before in monthly reports, but it’s often good to step back and look at the statistics from a more aggregated level,” Florida Realtors Chief Economist Dr. John Tuccillo said. “They clearly show the robustness of Florida’s housing recovery in sales and the beginnings of what we see as a sustained growth in prices. Of particular interest is the growth in cash sales. This is indicative of the growing interest of investors and foreign buyers in Florida real estate, but also points to the difficulties presented by the current financing climate that households wishing to buy face.”

The interest rate for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.66 percent for 2012, down from the previous year’s average of 4.45 percent, according to Freddie Mac.

Source: South Florida Business Journal





U.S. Home Prices Rose Last Year By Most in 6.5 Years

6 02 2013

U.S. home prices jumped by the most in 6 1/2 years in December, spurred by a low supply of available homes and rising demand.

Home prices rose 8.3 percent in December compared with a year earlier, according to a report Tuesday from CoreLogic, a real estate data provider. That is the biggest annual gain since May 2006. Prices rose last year in 46 of 50 states.

Home prices also increased 0.4 percent in December from the previous month. That’s a healthy increase given that sales usually slow over the winter months.

Steady increases in prices are helping fuel the housing recovery. They’re encouraging some people to sell homes and enticing would-be buyers to purchase homes before prices rise further.

Higher prices can also make homeowners feel wealthier. That can encourage more consumer spending.

Most economists expect prices to keep rising this year. Sales of previously occupied homes reached their highest level in five years in 2012 and will likely keep growing. Homebuilders, encouraged by rising interest from customers, broke ground on the most new homes and apartments in four years last year.

Ultra-low mortgage rates and steady job gains have fueled more demand for houses and apartments. More people are moving out into their own homes after doubling up with friends and relatives in the recession.

At the same time, the number of previously occupied homes for sale has fallen to the lowest level in 11 years.

“All signals point to a continued improvement in the fundamentals underpinning the U.S. housing market recovery,” said Anand Nallathambi, CEO of CoreLogic.

The states with the biggest price gains were Arizona, Nevada, Idaho, California and Hawaii. The four states where prices fell were Delaware, Illinois, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

The housing recovery is also boosting job creation. Construction companies have added 98,000 jobs in the past four months, the best hiring spree since the bubble burst in 2006. Economists forecast even more could be added this year.

Housing has been a leading driver of past recoveries. But the bursting of the housing bubble pushed a flood of foreclosed homes on the market at low prices. That made it hard for builders to compete.

And a collapse in home prices left millions of homeowners owing more on their mortgages than their houses were worth. That made it difficult to sell.

Now, six years after the bubble burst, those barriers are fading. Some economists forecast that housing could add a point or more to economic growth this year.

Source: The Associated Press





Housing Affordability Index Rose to Record Level in Past Two Decades

23 02 2012

Nationwide housing affordability, as measured by the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index (HOI), rose to the highest percentage recorded in the 20-year history of the index during the fourth quarter of 2011. However, prospective homebuyers continued to have trouble qualifying for a mortgage thanks to tighter credit standards and a soft economy.

HOI data released last week indicates that 75.9 percent of all new and existing homes sold in the fourth quarter were affordable to families earning the national median income of $64,200, the highest percentage recorded in the 20-year history of the index.

“While today’s report indicates that homeownership is within reach of more households than it has been for more than two decades, overly restrictive lending conditions confronting homebuyers and builders remain significant obstacles to many potential homes sales, even with interest rates at historically low levels,” said Barry Rutenberg, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder from Gainesville, Fla.

In Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, Ohio, Pa. – the most affordable major housing market in the country during the fourth quarter – 95.1 percent of all homes sold during the quarter were affordable to households earning the area’s median family income of $54,900.

Also ranking at the top of the most affordable major housing markets, in descending order were Lakeland-Winter Haven, Fla.; Modesto, Calif.; Harrisburg-Carlisle, Pa.; and Toledo, Ohio.

Among smaller housing markets, the most affordable was Kokomo, Ind., where 99.2 percent of homes sold during the fourth quarter of 2011 were affordable to families earning the median income of $59,100. Other smaller housing markets at the top of the index included Fairbanks, Alaska; Cumberland, Md.-W.Va.; Lima, Ohio; and Rockford, Ill.

In New York-White Plain-Wayne, N.Y.-N.J. – the least affordable major housing market during 2011’s fourth quarter – 29.0 percent of all homes sold were affordable to those earning the area’s median income of $67,400. It’s the 15th consecutive quarter in which the New York metropolitan division held the position.

Other major metro areas at the bottom of the affordability index included Honolulu; San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City, Calif.; Santa Ana-Anaheim-Irvine, Calif.; and Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, Calif., respectively.

Ocean City, N.J., where 47.5 percent of the homes were affordable to families earning the median income of $70,100, was the least affordable of the smaller metro housing markets in the country during the fourth quarter. Other small metro areas ranking near the bottom included Laredo, Texas; San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles, Calif.; Santa Cruz-Watsonville, Calif.; and Brownsville-Harlingen, Texas.

Source: National Association of Home Builders








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