Nevada City Virtual Tour

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Home Sales on Track to Hit 5-Year High












Real Estate


Home Sales on Track to Hit 5-Year High

Sales of existing single family homes and condominiums beat expectations for August, rising to the highest level since May of 2010, when the government's home buyer tax credit juiced sales temporarily. This time it could be argued that the government stimulus behind sales is record low mortgage rates, but that may not be all of it.

Close to one third of the homes that sold in August went to buyers using all cash, despite average rates on the 30-year fixed sitting around 3.6%. Rates appear to have less of an impact than hoped. Witness mortgage applications to purchase a home fell 4% last week, even as rates fell to record lows on the Mortgage Bankers Association's weekly survey.

"The strengthening housing market is occurring even with difficult mortgage qualifying conditions, which is testament to the sizable stored-up housing demand that accumulated in the past five years," said the National Association of Realtors' chief economist Lawrence Yun.

With the August jump of 7.8% from July, Realtors now say they are confident that home sales for all of 2012 will hit their highest level in five years. They do warn that there are still "frictions" in the market, not the least of which are about 12 million borrowers who owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth. These so-called "underwater" borrowers are largely stuck in place, unable to cover their debt and unable to move up.

"Bottom line, housing continues to recover, but the bounce still has to be put into the perspective of how much damage was done," notes Peter Boockvar at Miller Tabak. "Looking specifically at single family homes, at a sales level of 4.30mm, it's back to where it was in 1998 and of course still well below the bubble high of 6.34mm in Sept '05."


As positive data begin to outnumber negative, analysts warn of a large pipeline of distressed properties that are still weighing down a potentially more robust recovery. Foreclosure activity increased in August, and states that had all but halted the process on thousands of properties, due to judicial challenges to paperwork, are now ramping up again. This will add lower-priced properties to an already low volume of homes for sale.

The question is, will that distress be absorbed quickly by investors and cease to have the negative impact on surrounding properties and consumer sentiment that foreclosures have had in years past? Investors, big and small, continue to move into this market, unafraid that rent prices will fall any time soon.

"The demand for rental housing is incredible," said former GE CEO and author Jack Welch on CNBC Wednesday. "The home rental idea is moving strongly."

Gary Tippner is Short Sale and Foreclosure Resource Certified
Relocation Specialist ~ Luxury Specialist ~ Investor Advisor

Call 1-877-311-GARY
"One Eight Seven Seven Three Eleven... Gary"

ETF and Stock Expert Feed