Monday, August 01, 2011

A summary of last week's housing data

I've been distracted by the real world recently, so I haven't been blogging much. Here are a few items I missed from last week.

According to S&P/Case-Shiller, year-over-year home prices fell 4.5% in May while seasonally-adjusted month-over-month home prices were flat:
May home prices in 20 major cities dipped 4.5% from one year ago, marking a continued decline in the already battered housing market.

The S&P/Case-Shiller report posted declines in both its 20-city composite and its 10-city index, which declined 3.6% year-over-year.

But housing did show some signs of life in May. Home prices ticked higher for the second consecutive month following an eight-month slide.

In May the 20-city index gained 1% compared with a month earlier, while the 10-city index rose 1.1% month-over-month.

David Blitzer, a spokesman for S&P, was cautious in detailing the index gains. ...

Blitzer attributed much of the home price increase for May to seasonal effects. Spring is the hottest time of year for home buying and the added demand usually drives prices higher.

Taking those seasonal factors into account, the 20-city index was flat and the 10-city showed a gain of just 0.1%.
Meanwhile, new home sales in June rose 1.6% year-over-year, but fell 1% month-over-month:
Sales of new homes slipped for a second straight month in June, unexpectedly falling 1%, as homebuilders remained reluctant to boost production.

The Census Bureau reported an annual sales rate of 312,000 new homes last month, down slightly from a revised rate of 315,000 homes in May. Compared to new home sales a year ago, June sales were up 1.6%.

Despite the year-over year uptick, the results disappointed. Economists had forecast a sales rate of 320,000 new homes, according to consensus estimates from Briefing.com.

After falling to an all-time low of 278,000 in February, new home sales have been one of the weakest sectors of the economy.
The number of foreclosures fell 84% in the first half of 2011:
Foreclosures declined in more than 84% of U.S. metro areas during the first half of the year, according to the latest report from RealtyTrac, an online marketer of foreclosed properties. But that doesn't mean these markets are staging a turnaround.

"These dramatic decreases indicate the foreclosure pipeline continues to be clogged in many local markets across the country," said RealtyTrac CEO, James Saccacio, whose firm reported earlier this month that the national foreclosure rate fell 29% over the past 12 months.

Much of that backlog, he explained, is due to a glut of already-foreclosed properties that the banks are having a hard time selling and to the slowdown in the processing of foreclosures following the "robo-signing scandal" of 2010.

As a result of the scandal, in which the banks were accused of mishandling paperwork and failing to follow proper protocols, banks are being much more careful and many filings have been delayed.

The biggest decline in the number of foreclosures have come in judicial foreclosure states where defaults go through the courts and paperwork is scrutinized by judges.
And, finally, pending home sales—a leading indicator—rose in June:
Pending home sales increased in June following a wide swing down in April and then up in May, according to the National Association of Realtors®. Activity increased in the West and South but declined in the Midwest and Northeast; all regions show strong double-digit gains from a year ago.

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