Foreclosures returning to pre-housing bust levels
By Les Christie @CNNMoney April 11, 2013: 11:12 AM ET
The number of homes lost to foreclosure is closing in on levels not seen since before the housing meltdown.
Foreclosure filings — including notices of default, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions — during the first quarter fell 23% from a year earlier, the lowest level since the second quarter of 2007.
Last month, banks repossessed just under 44,000 homes. In September 2010, repossessions topped 100,000 a month.
“We’re getting back to normal and will be there by next year,” said Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac.
For the past couple of years, foreclosures have been on the decline as homeowners seek alternatives like short sales, in which they sell their home for less than what they owe and the bank agrees to forgive the difference.
The deals are preferred by the banks over foreclosures and have less of a negative impact on a consumer’s credit score. But now even the need to turn to short sales is waning.
Government initiatives, like the Home Affordable Modification Program and Home Affordable Refinance Program, have helped millions of borrowers avoid foreclosure. And last spring, under a $25 billion settlement deal with state and federal officials, the nation’s largest mortgage lenders agreed to help struggling borrowers by lowering their mortgage rates, reducing their principal and other fixes.
Now, the landscape of foreclosures is starting to look a lot like it did in the pre-bust years, said Blomquist.
A larger percentage of the nation’s foreclosure activity is occurring in areas suffering from severe economic problems, such as “Rust Belt” cities like Rockford, Ill. and Chicago, not in the recently-developed, mid-to-upper class neighborhoods of California, Florida and Arizona that were hit hardest when the housing bubble burst, he said.
And many of the people who lose their homes now are dealing with a layoff or personal issue, such as a divorce, illness or death in the family, said Blomquist. During the housing bust, people were forced to default because of plunging home prices and unaffordable mortgage terms.
There are some states that are still struggling with a backlog of foreclosures like Florida, Illinois and Georgia, all states where courts oversee the foreclosure process. Florida had more than twice as many bank repossessions as any other state in March — nearly 7,600. Illinois, with more than 3,500, was second and Georgia, with 3,350, was third.
With prices expected to continue to rise — they were up more than 8% year-over-year in January — the number of short sales should continue to fall, and so should foreclosures, according to Blomquist.
Inside the Homes
Eric JarvisBillionaire Larry Ellison has listed his 2.62-acre compound on the east shore of Lake Tahoe for $28.5 million.
The property, located in Glenbrook, Nev., was originally meant to be Mr. Ellison’s primary home at Tahoe. But he had the chance to build an estate on the north shore of the lake—it is scheduled to be finished this year—so he is selling the Glenbrook compound, says Jennie Fairchild of Chase International Real Estate, who has the listing. Mr. Ellison has created a 7.6-acre compound with about 420 feet of lake frontage at the north shore’s Incline Village, according to public records.
The Glenbrook property includes a 9,242-square foot main house with six bedrooms, eight full bathrooms and one half-bathroom; Mr. Ellison spent three years remodeling it “from the studs up,” according to Ms. Fairchild. There is a soundproof screening room, a gym, a billiard room, a library and a sauna. The master-bedroom wing has two dressing rooms and two bathrooms, each with a handcrafted wooden ofuro, a Japanese soaking tub.
In addition to the main house, there is a 1,326-square-foot, two-bedroom, three-bath guesthouse and another 2,934-square-foot lakefront home with five bedrooms, three full baths and two half-baths.
The property sits on 230 feet of lake frontage with a private white-sand beach, two piers, a floating dock, two buoys and a rock breakwater. A 426-square-foot lakeside cabana has a sun deck and a built-in barbecue on the roof. Nearby, a hot tub also looks out over the lake.
The grounds include terraced gardens, a pond, a stream, a small waterfall, a heated driveway and patios, a state-of-the-art security system and a guardhouse.
The location on the east shore of the lake is known as a “banana belt” because it gets so much sun, according to Ms. Fairchild. Many of the nearby properties are large family estates that are passed down from generation to generation, she says, and rarely come on the market.
Mr. Ellison assembled the Glenbrook property over three years, according to public records. In 2006, he paid $11.7 million for the main house and 1.6 acres. He then paid $3.3 million for two additional parcels in 2009, according to public records. Mr. Ellison’s other Tahoe holdings include not only his Incline Village compound, but also another 12.6-acre estate in Glenbrook, according to public records. This second Glenbrook property involved three different deals on which Mr. Ellison spent $29 million, according to public records.
A Piece of a Palace on the Côte d’Azur: Luxury Condos on the Mediterranean Ask $2 Million to $20 Million
Apartments carved out of the Côte d’Azur’s Maeterlinck Palace are going on the market in May for $2 million to $20 million, or $2,800 to $4,000 per square foot. The apartments—the exact number has yet to be determined, but it will be no more than 19—will be built by the summer of 2014. Each unit will have a panoramic view of the Mediterranean Sea and will range from 1,000 to 5,000 square feet in size.
Built on a rocky outcrop between Nice and Cap Ferrat, the place was known as the Villa Orlamonde in the late 1920s and ’30s, when Belgian playwright Maurice Maeterlinck hosted many parties there with his actress wife. A Nobel Prize winner for literature, Mr. Maeterlinck snagged the property in an auction after a French count’s plans for a hotel and casino rivaling Monaco were scuppered by the construction of Nice’s Palais de la Méditerranée nearby in 1928.
Recognizable for its rows of Greek columns, which flank a 65-foot-long swimming pool and gardens, the property became an upscale hotel in the 1980s before being sold to an Irish bank at the outbreak of the financial crisis in 2008. After the estate spent several years on the market, Czech billionaire and real-estate investor Radovan Vitek paid $61 million for it in 2012, with plans to convert the site into high-end apartments.
“We wanted to change the ballgame for the most sophisticated trophy residences, for people with homes in London, the Hamptons and St. Tropez, not just families looking for a holiday apartment,” says Alexander Kraft, owner of Sotheby’s International Realty France and Monaco, which worked for Mr. Vitek on the project and has the listing. The region’s popularity among wealthy foreigners has helped to keep property prices from declining as much as they have in other parts of the country, although the number of transactions has slowed in recent months.
Twelve Waterfalls and a Tennis Court With Viewing for 300: A San Diego Compound Lists for $9.75 Million
Leonard Bloom, a sports and entertainment entrepreneur, has listed his San Diego compound for $9.75 million.
The 15,000-square-foot home located in the Alvarado Estates community above Mission Valley has nine bedrooms, 10 bathrooms, two dining rooms and multiple balconies. The home includes an 870-square-foot theater with a bar and dumbwaiter, 30-foot ceilings in the living room and satellite security. The property has a 2,200-square-foot guesthouse, 12 waterfalls, a driveway that can fit 100 cars, views of the San Diego Chargers’ Qualcomm Stadium and a tennis court with viewing for more than 300 people.
Mr. Bloom says he bought the property in the 1980s and expanded and renovated the home twice, once in the early 1990s and again in 2000. He estimates he spent close to $14 million on renovations over the years. He’s selling the home because his latest business ventures require him to be closer to Los Angeles. “I wish I could just take the house and move it to where I want to be,” Mr. Bloom says.
Over the course of his career, Mr. Bloom has owned the Los Angeles Sharks hockey team and the San Diego Conquistadors basketball team with Wilt Chamberlain. His firm has worked with entertainers including Johnny Carson, Frank Sinatra, Joan Rivers and Robin Williams. He has hosted Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush at his estate and thrown events for the San Diego Chargers.
Sandy Hardcastle-Taylor of Coldwell Banker Previews International has the listing.
Alexander Haig‘s Home in Virginia Sells for $5.18 Million
The McLean, Va., home of the late Alexander Haig, who served as secretary of state under former President Ronald Reagan, has sold for $5.18 million, or 6% under its asking price of $5.5 million.
The buyer is the incoming group president of an international communications and IT corporation who is relocating from California, says the buyer’s agent, Mike Anastasia of Keller Williams Realty Old Town in Alexandria, Va. Mr. Anastasia says his client read about the property in The Wall Street Journal’s Private Properties column and visited the home a day before it hit the market. Listing agent Michael Rankin of TTR Sotheby’s International Realty says he got an offer three days later.
The Georgian-style home is 11,725 square feet and has five bedrooms, nine bathrooms and eight fireplaces. A top-floor master suite has views of the Potomac River. The 1-acre property also has a gym, a sauna and a staff apartment. Mr. Anastasia says his client plans to renovate the kitchen and family-and dining-room areas to open them up and bring in more light.
Mr. Rankin shared the listing with Russell Firestone and Lawrence Calvert, also of TTR Sotheby’s.
A version of this article appeared March 29, 2013, on page M2 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Larry Ellison Lists Lake Tahoe Compound for $28.5 Million; White-Sand Beach Included.
Low Inventory: The Big Real Estate Story Of 2013?
We’ve heard it on the street, we’ve seen in on Facebook and Twitter, and we’ve seen it in our own neighborhoods: low inventory is a major story in the real estate market right now. While it is not a universal condition, a low inventory of homes on the market seems to be prevalent in many desirable areas. Inventory levels, the amount of time it would take to sell all existing homes on the market without any new homes being added, are dropping below normal (it varies by market but six months is often considered a good indicator). The low inventory situation exists both major cities and in some suburban areas. Let’s take a look at a few recent stories:
From the Denver Post: The number of showings per listing has risen as the housing inventory has fallen. During a stable market a typical inventory level would be around five to seven months, Boulder County’s inventory is 3.4 months.
From Oregon Live: In the Portland area December closed with fewer than 6,400 homes listed for sale. At that month’s sales rate it would only take 3.6 months to work through that supply. Average inventory level for the area is generally six months.
From the Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Sales of houses and condos In King County last year rose 19.9 percent, while the number of homes on the market fell by 36.9 percent. The inventory level fell from 6.7 to 3.4 months.
Los Angeles, California
From the Los Angeles Daily News: Warren Snyder, who co-owns Carriage Realty & American Broker Loans in Rolling Hills Estates was quoted as saying: “The short inventory count is causing people to pay more for the house. It’s supply and demand.”
From the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal: For the first time in several years, the Lubbock market’s existing months of inventory for December dropped below 1,300 homes or 4.5 months and officially transitioned from a buyer’s to a seller’s market, carrying last year’s strong recovery trend into 2013. Last year during this period the inventory level was around 6.5 percent.
West Palm Beach, Florida
From the Palm Beach Post: Palm Beach County Realtors have said one of their biggest challenges in recent months is a low inventory. T 4.7 in November, a 54 percent decrease from the same time in 2011. Condominium supply was at 4.8 months, down 47 percent from November 2011.
Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina
From the Triangle Business Journal: The Triangle MLS in North Carolina which covers an area including Raleigh, Durham, Cary and Chapel Hill areas, reported in December that the inventory of homes and properties listed on MLS in the region hit a new low with 11,802 homes listed for sale in December, which is about a 5.9-month supply level.
Portsmouth, New Hampshire:
From Fosters.com: The single family homes available for sale in the Seacoast area of New Hampshire at its lowest level since at least 2010, according to the Seacoast Board of REALTORS monthly survey of the 13-sample Seacoast towns.
New York, New York:
From NY1.com: The prediction for New York City is that inventory will remain low in 2013, especially because many sellers cannot afford to trade up or qualify for financing, so they are opting to stay put.
So what is a potential homebuyer to do? In our recent post on smart moves to make in 2013, Realtors® gave advice on backup offers and other strategies. If there is a home you like, be ready to take action because, from what we are seeing out there, it looks like it may not be on the market long.
How is the inventory in your market? Let us know in the comments below. We may include your information in a follow-up story, as inventory changes throughout the year.
Where Americans are moving to – and from
By Les Christie @CNNMoney January 30, 2013: 5:13 PM ET
Germany was the top destination for Americans moving abroad in 2012, followed by the United Kingdom.
If you left the United States for a job abroad in 2012, there’s a good chance you ended up in Germany.
UniGroup Relocations, moved 573 people to Germany last year, 29% more than to the United Kingdom, the second most popular destination, according to a report released Tuesday. And the relationship was reciprocal: Of foreigners migrating to the United States, Germany was the second most popular country of origin.
“[The] international migration study offers a unique perspective into what is happening with overall migration patterns to and from the U.S.,” said Rich McClure, CEO of UniGroup Relocations.
One of the largest moving companies, many of UniGroup’s international moves are corporate relocations, which reveal where firms are investing manpower. They also reflect the burgeoning economic recovery, as the total number of moves increased for the second year in a row after declining in 2009 and 2010.
“During the first and second years of the recession, there were steep cutbacks in corporate relocations,” said McClure.
Many of the moves from the United States to Germany involved the U.S. military, as more than 50,000 members of the armed forces are stationed in the country.
Foreigners moving to the United States were most likely to arrive from the United Kingdom.
But the hottest markets for migration are countries on the Pacific Rim. United’s moves to that region have jumped by more than 10% over the last two years due to “an uncertainty about the U.S. economy,” said McClure. Until things stabilize, he thinks many U.S. companies will focus on growing their overseas subsidiaries and invest human capital accordingly.
Australia, which has seen a recent boom in energy production and mining, finished third among people leaving the United States.
United Van Lines, the sister company to UniGroup, released data on domestic migration earlier this month. United’s clientele tends to skew wealthier, but McClure says the company’s report tracks closely with the Census Bureau’s data on U.S. migration and population estimates.
Washington, D.C. had the highest proportion of people moving in rather than leaving. Corporations have been steadily expanding in Washington, as more companies — especially defense contractors, banks, pharmaceuticals and health care providers — open branch offices to be closer to the federal government, which is the source of much of their revenues. This was the fifth straight year Washington has had the highest ratio of people moving in to those moving out.
Oregon was the second most popular destination, followed by Nevada, North Carolina and South Carolina.
2012 is record year for commercial property sales
Highest dollar volume was in December
In fact, all but two of the nine commercial building sales of 2012—a record going back at least a decade—took place in the latter half of the year, helping to fuel Pitkin County’s highest dollar volume of real estate sales since the pre-recession peak.
Two commercial building sales were recorded on December 31: the Ellie’s, or American National Bank, building on Main and Mill, for $12 million; and Amelia’s Building on the Hyman Avenue Mall (with just two retail spaces) for $3,225,600.
Earlier in the month and on the same day, the Volk Plaza (Paradise Bakery) and Mountain Plaza (Bidwell) buildings, which sit across from each other on the corner of Galena and Cooper, sold for $17.25 million and $22 million, respectively.
The common denominator for three of December’s four commercial sales is that they were sold by siblings who inherited the property after long tenures of family ownership and wanted to split up their estates, said local commercial broker Karen Setterfield, who was involved in the Volk, Bidwell, and Amelia’s sales.
Renowned Aspen architect Fritz Benedict designed the Bidwell building in 1965 for 10th Mountain Division veteran Bert Bidwell, who has since passed it on to his three children. Dick Volk’s father bought his corner lot in 1947, when it was the town dump, and built his namesake building there in 1986. And Amelia’s Building, built in 1973, is named for Amelia Kopp, who added the second floor for her hair salon which she operated for decades before transferring ownership of the building to her two sons over the last several years.
Another prominent downtown building changed hands on November 30. The Anderson family sold the building that houses their business, Pomeroy Sports, on Durant and Hunter across from the gondola plaza, for $7.5 million.
The buyers of the Pomeroy building include members of the local Souki family (headed by Texas energy executive Charif Souki), and although the other buildings’ buyers are all either part-time or full-time locals, according to Setterfield, most wish to remain anonymous for now.
The buyers in Setterfield’s deals “were already interested in Aspen,” she said, “and in most cases they already own a home or other property here. So Aspen is on their radar, it’s part of their goals.”
The buyer for the Bidwell building is listed as 434 East Cooper LLC and the Volk building is now owned by Galena Cooper LLC. The buyer of Amelia’s Building lists an address that is the office of longtime local landlord Frank Woods.
American National Bank reportedly purchased the building it occupies, although the buyer is technically listed as Aspen Branch Holdings LLC.
The Souki family, via Ajax Holdings LLC, is also under contract to buy the Mason Morse building on East Hyman, sometime early this year.
The nine commercial building closings in 2012 are the outcome of a very active couple of years in that sector. A record number of commercial properties, several of them among the most valuable buildings in town, had been placed on the market, and 2012 marks the most active year of commercial property sales in Aspen in at least a decade, according to an analysis of MLS (Multiple Listing Service) data.
Other high-profile commercial property sales in 2012 include the Gap building at 204 S. Galena, for $13.25 million; the Taylor Building at 602. E Hyman (corner of Hunter), for $6.7 million; the AG Sheppard Building on Hopkins and Monarch, for $2.8 million; and the commercial portion of the Mother Lode Building at 314 East Hyman, for $3.2 million.
Although it’s a subjective matter whether the buildings were worth what the buyers paid for them (in most cases they sold for more than the Pitkin County Assessor’s value but less than the original list price), it’s clear that location helped determine the prices.
The Volk Plaza Building, with its highly utilized gathering space in front of Paradise Bakery, commanded the highest price per square foot of the 2012 sales. The $1,779 per square foot its buyer paid was just a fraction above the $1,679 per square foot the Souki family paid for the Pomeroy building, according to information provided by Setterfield.
The AG Sheppard Building, a historic Victorian on the corner of “Restaurant Row” commanded $1,303 per square foot, only slightly higher than the buyer of the Bidwell building paid ($1,298 per square foot), which in turn is somewhat higher than the $1,192 per square foot that the Gap building’s buyer paid.
The Gap building has approvals in place to be replaced by a larger building, perhaps as early as this year, while the Bidwell building has a pending redevelopment application. The Taylor Building is one of several downtown buildings wishing to add a third-floor penthouse.
Follow Catherine Lutz on Twitter @cathlutz
Intuit: Colorado small business hiring up slightly
STAFF REPORT | Wed., January 2, 2013 @ 10:19 am
States with job increases are in green. States with job decreases are shaded red. Brown represents zero change.
It marks the third straight month that small businesses added more workers in Colorado. November saw job gains of .09 and in October they grew by .05 percent, the Intuit Payroll Small Business Index showed.
Nationwide, small businesses created 15,000 jobs in December – a .99 increase over November, according to the 173,000 small businesses with fewer than 20 employees who use Intuit Online Payroll and QuickBooks Online Payroll.
“Small business revenues are gradually recovering from recessionary depths, but are just now reaching levels seen before the recession began in 2007,” Intuit reported in a press release.
The largest gains occurred in Utah and South Carolina.
The only markets that didn’t show small business improvement were the Middle Atlantic, East North Central and New England census divisions.
Intuit claims its index is the first in the market to provide current information on monthly small business revenue.
According to Intuit, the December results also show:
• The revenue index indicates that small businesses overall saw revenue decline in November. Among the industries tracked by the Index, none saw an increase this month.
• Professional, scientific, and technical services saw the biggest decline, at 0.6 percent, followed by Retail trade, and ‘Other’ services with a 0.5 percent decline.
• Average monthly pay for small business employees increased to $2,702 in December, or 0.5 percent and monthly hours worked increased 0.08 percent in December, corresponding to 107.4 hours.
Gift funds AVH health care pavilion
ABJ STAFF | Fri., January 4, 2013 @ 7:53 am
ASPEN—Evelyn H. Lauder’s legacy is far more than the contribution she made to skincare and beauty products. A long-time advocate for women’s health issues, the former Senior Corporate Vice President of The Estee Lauder Companies, who passed away in November 2011, also loved Aspen.
Mrs. Lauder’s memory lives on in the newly established Evelyn H. Lauder Patient Care Pavilion at Aspen Valley Hospital. It includes 16 private patient rooms with a family waiting area in a patient care pavilion that were funded through a gift from The Lauder Foundation- Leonard & Evelyn Lauder Fund. It is housed within the new PhaseIIA of Aspen Valley Hospital, which also features oncology/infusion therapy, rehabilitation offices, physician offices and a new cafeteria.
“The Evelyn H. Lauder Patient Care Pavilion is at the heart of our new hospital. The pavilion’s design is entirely focused on the needs of the patient, as Evelyn would want it to be, with state-of-the-art technology and utmost attention to patient comfort and privacy. Our board, physicians and staff are deeply appreciative of the Lauder family’s generosity, vision and leadership in supporting our hospital,” said David Ressler, CEO for Aspen Valley Hospital.
Leonard Lauder spoke this week about his late wife’s affinity for Aspen. “She first came here in 1956 for the Aspen Music Festival and has had a love affair with Aspen ever since. She was very grateful for the care that she and our entire family received at Aspen Valley Hospital. She had an amazing spirit, inner and outer beauty, and tremendous optimism that were uniquely hers. My family and I could not be more pleased that AVH patients, family and staff will benefit from the personalized care and healing environment that are inspired by Evelyn.”
A collection of 78 photographs taken over a period of 30 years by Mrs. Lauder decorate the pavilion and feature natural settings, many taken locally, that she found meaningful. She once observed: “I have a strong belief in the healing power of beauty in nature…and works that convey a peaceful, uplifting vision of the natural world.”
The President of the AVH Board of Directors, John Sarpa, noted, “This beautiful pavilion and the photography displayed throughout will serve as constant reminders of Evelyn’s great compassion for others and her tireless dedication to philanthropic causes.”
The list of philanthropic causes Evelyn focused on include the Pink Ribbon, which she co-founded in 1992 and is widely recognized as the worldwide symbol of breast health. She also launched the Estee Lauder Companies Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign, which raises funds through the company’s brands, employees and retail partners around the world to support breast cancer research. More than $400 million has been raised through the Breast Cancer Research Foundation since its 1993 inception.
She was also a member of the Board of Overseers of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, which has a breast cancer component that was established thanks to a generous gift from the family foundation.
The remainder of Aspen Valley Hospital’s Phase II, which is expected to be completed in late summer, include a new intensive care unit, cardiopulmonary rehabilitation and diagnostics, same-day surgery, offices and admissions services.
AVH established the Aspen Valley Hospital Foundation to move forward its mission to deliver extraordinary healthcare in an environment of excellence, compassion and trust. The Foundation oversees the hospital’s charitable giving. A campaign to support completion of AVH’s master facilities plan will be announced soon. For more information, call (970) 544-1302.
The Top Towns For Sales of $10 Million HomesCNBC.com | December 19, 2012 | 12:58 PM ESTIn some elite zip codes, $1 million homes now count as affordable housing.A new report from shows that sales and listings of homes priced at $10 million or more have more than doubled in some communities in the past year. While the market for these mega-mansions remains tiny nationally, they are becoming downright common in a select few towns favored by the super-rich.The top zip code for homes sold for $10 million or more is Beverly Hills, with 19 mega-homes sold between November 2011 and October of 2012. Tied for second place was Aspen, Colo., and Santa Barbara, both with 13 homes sold for $10 million or more.Beverly Hills and Aspen also led the list of zip codes for sales of homes priced at $5 million or more, with Beverly Hills reporting 70 homes in that category, and Aspen 33. Read more: The Five Largest Landowners in AmericaGranted, the list leaves out New York, since several Manhattan zip codes would otherwise overwhelm the top of the list. In its previous report, Coldwell Banker said Manhattan had 100 sales of $10 million or more, with many zip codes around Central Park reporting 20 or more sales.The rankings show that the so-called “ultra-luxury” sector of the real estate market had a strong year in 2012 and is poised for an even better year in 2013 – fueled in part by a stronger stock market and rising real-estate values.The number of homes priced at $10 million or more – a good indicator for next year – also continues to grow. Topping the list of $10 million-plus listings is Malibu, Calif., with 63 listings priced in the eight digits or higher. Call if the Ellison Premium? Beverly Hills ranked second, with 62 listings followed by Aspen with 41 listings. Read more: Next Battle on the Cliff Edge Is Estate Taxes”One area where we have seen tremendous growth in the past few years is the ultra-luxury sector,” Coldwell Banker said in the report. “For example, in the Miami area, a luxury market that has ignited this year, the number of new listings hitting the market at $10 million dollars or higher jumped by 176 percent from January 2012 through October 31,2012.”The report found that 72 percent of those buying or listing $10-million-plus homes are local – contradicting the widely held perception that the top of the real-estate market is now being driven by foreigners. Nearly half of the buyers or listers are entrepreneurs and more than 60% are betweenthe ages of 45 and 54.Of the buyers who are from overseas, 39 percent are from Asia.When it comes to the most important feature for $10 million properties, the golden rule of real-estate still holds true. Its “location,location, location,” Coldwell said.
via News Headlines.
WASHINGTON (December 20, 2012) – Existing-home sales continued to improve in November with low inventory supply pressuring home prices, according to the National Association of Realtors®.
Total existing-home sales1, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, rose 5.9 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.04 million in November from a downwardly revised 4.76 million in October, and are 14.5 percent higher than the 4.40 million-unit pace in November 2011. Sales are at the highest level since November 2009 when the annual pace spiked at 5.44 million.
Lawrence Yun , NAR chief economist, said there is healthy market demand. “Momentum continues to build in the housing market from growing jobs and a bursting out of household formation,” he said. “With lower rental vacancy rates and rising rents, combined with still historically favorable affordability conditions, more people are buying homes. Areas impacted by Hurricane Sandy show storm-related disruptions but overall activity in the Northeast is up, offset by gains in unaffected areas.”
The national median existing-home price2 for all housing types was $180,600 in November, up 10.1 percent from November 2011. This is the ninth consecutive monthly year-over-year price gain, which last occurred from September 2005 to May 2006.
Distressed homes3 - foreclosures and short sales sold at deep discounts – accounted for 22 percent of November sales (12 percent were foreclosures and 10 percent were short sales), down from 24 percent in October and 29 percent in November 2011. Foreclosures sold for an average discount of 20 percent below market value in November, while short sales were discounted 16 percent.
“The market share of distressed property sales will fall into the teens next year based on a diminishing number of seriously delinquent mortgages,” Yun said.
Total housing inventory at the end of November fell 3.8 percent to 2.03 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 4.8-month supply 4 at the current sales pace; it was 5.3 months in October, and is the lowest housing supply since September of 2005 when it was 4.6 months.
Listed inventory is 22.5 percent below a year ago when there was a 7.1-month supply. Raw unsold inventory is now at the lowest level since December 2001 when there were 1.89 million homes on the market.
According to Freddie Mac, the national average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage fell to a record low 3.35 percent in November from 3.38 percent in October; the rate was 3.99 percent in November 2011.
NAR President Gary Thomas, broker-owner of Evergreen Realty in Villa Park, Calif., said there’s been speculation of a rise in short sales before the end of the year with pending expiration of the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act. “However, there’s been no movement in short sales, their market share is staying in a narrow range, and they’re still taking much longer to sell – typically three months,” he said.
“The fact remains it is extremely difficult to expedite a short sale, and banks’ response to client urgency is only starting to improve. However, we’re hopeful that the act will be extended before it expires on December 31 so sellers don’t have to pay taxes on forgiven mortgage debt, which would be unfairly treated as income for owners who are selling under duress,” Thomas said.
The median time on market for all homes was 70 days in November, slightly below 71 days in October, but is 28.6 percent below 98 days in November 2011. Thirty-two percent of homes sold in November were on the market for less than a month, while 20 percent were on the market for six months or longer; these findings are unchanged from October.
First-time buyers accounted for 30 percent of purchases in November, down from 31 percent in October and 35 percent in November 2011.
All-cash sales were at 30 percent of transactions in November, up slightly from 29 percent in October and 28 percent in November 2011. Investors, who account for most cash sales, purchased 19 percent of homes in November, little changed from 20 percent in October; they were 19 percent in November 2011.
Single-family home sales rose 5.5 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.44 million in November from 4.21 million in October, and are 12.4 percent higher than the 3.95 million-unit level in November 2011. The median existing single-family home price was $180,600 in November, up 10.1 percent from a year ago.
Existing condominium and co-op sales jumped 9.1 percent to an annualized level of 600,000 in November from 550,000 in October, and are 33.3 percent above the 450,000-unit pace a year ago. The median existing condo price was $181,000 in November, which is 10.6 percent higher than November 2011.
Regionally, existing-home sales in the Northeast rose 6.9 percent to an annual rate of 620,000 in November and are 14.8 percent above November 2011. The median price in the Northeast was $232,900, down 2.0 percent from a year ago.
Existing-home sales in the Midwest increased 7.2 percent in November to a pace of 1.19 million and are 21.4 percent higher than a year ago. The median price in the Midwest was $141,600, which is 7.0 percent above November 2011.
In the South, existing-home sales rose 7.9 percent to an annual level of 2.04 million in November and are 17.2 percent above November 2011. The median price in the South was $157,400, up 10.5 percent from a year ago.
Existing-home sales in the West rose 0.8 percent a pace of 1.19 million in November and are 4.4 percent higher than a year ago. With ongoing inventory constraints, the median price in the West was $248,300, which is 23.9 percent above November 2011.
The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.
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NOTE: For local information, please contact the local association of Realtors® for data from local multiple listing services. Local MLS data is the most accurate source of sales and price information in specific areas, although there may be differences in reporting methodology.
1 Existing-home sales, which include single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, are based on transaction closings from multiple listing services. Changes in sales trends outside of MLSs are not captured in the monthly series. A rebenchmarking of home sales is done periodically using other sources to assess the overall home sales trend, including sales not reported by MLSs.
Existing-home sales differ from the U.S. Census Bureau’s series on new single-family home sales, which are based on contracts or the acceptance of a deposit. Because of these differences, it is not uncommon for each series to move in different directions in the same month. In addition, existing-home sales, which account for more than 90 percent of total home sales, are based on a much larger sample – about 40 percent of multiple listing service data each month – and typically are not subject to large prior-month revisions.
The annual rate for a particular month represents what the total number of actual sales for a year would be if the relative pace for that month were maintained for 12 consecutive months. Seasonally adjusted annual rates are used in reporting monthly data to factor out seasonal variations in resale activity. For example, home sales volume is normally higher in the summer than in the winter, primarily because of differences in the weather and family buying patterns. However, seasonal factors cannot compensate for abnormal weather patterns.
Single-family data collection began monthly in 1968, while condo data collection began quarterly in 1981; the series were combined in 1999 when monthly collection of condo data began. Prior to this period, single-family homes accounted for more than nine out of 10 purchases. Historic comparisons for total home sales prior to 1999 are based on monthly single-family sales, combined with the corresponding quarterly sales rate for condos.
2 The median price is where half sold for more and half sold for less; medians are more typical than average prices, which are skewed higher by a relatively small share of upper-end transactions. The only valid comparisons for median prices are with the same period a year earlier due to a seasonality in buying patterns. Month-to-month comparisons do not compensate for seasonal changes, especially for the timing of family buying patterns. Changes in the composition of sales can distort median price data. Year-ago median and mean prices sometimes are revised in an automated process if more data is received than was originally reported.
The national median condo/co-op price often is higher than the median single-family home price because condos are concentrated in higher-cost housing markets. However, in a given area, single-family homes typically sell for more than condos as seen in NAR’s quarterly metro area price reports.
3 Distressed sales (foreclosures and short sales), days on market, first-time buyers, all-cash transactions and investors are from a monthly survey for the NAR’s Realtors® Confidence Index, posted at Realtor.org.
4 Total inventory and month’s supply data are available back through 1999, while single-family inventory and month’s supply are available back to 1982 (prior to 1999, single-family sales accounted for more than 90 percent of transactions and condos were measured only on a quarterly basis).
The Pending Home Sales Index for November will be released December 28 and existing-home sales for December is scheduled for January 22; release times are 10:00 a.m. EST.