This Week in Real Estate: Feb. 8, 2016


Groundhog’s Day was this week and the most famous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, did not see his shadow (only 14 times in 95 years). As we all know, that means an earlier start to spring, which for This Week in Real Estate means an earlier start to our spring selling season. Below are a few highlights from the first week of February that influence our business:

* U.S. Home Sellers in 2015 Realized Biggest Price Gains Since 2007. RealtyTrac released its Year-End 2015 U.S. Home Sales Report this week, which shows that U.S. home sellers in 2015 realized an average price gain since purchase of 11 percent ($20,378), the biggest average price gain for U.S. home sellers since 2007 – an eight-year high. The 11 percent average price gain in 2015 marked the second consecutive year where U.S. home sellers realized an average price gain following six consecutive years where U.S. home sellers realized average price losses. “This return to consistent home price gains for sellers should reinforce confidence in real estate in 2016 and produce another year of solid sales volume as homeowners cash out their equity gains,” said Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac. Additional results: 38 percent of markets hit new all-time home price peak in 2015, home sales volume reaches nine-year high and distressed sales and short sales combined drop to eight-year low.
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* January Housing Data Offers Strong 2016 Outlook. Economic uncertainty driven by a tumultuous start of the year for financial markets does not seem to be dampening the pent-up demand that drove growth and sales in 2015. Instead, year-over-year trends point to this spring being the busiest since 2006, according to the analysis of preliminary January data on The residential real estate market is following a typical January pattern, with cooler demand, reduced inventory and slower market velocity than during warmer months in most markets. Despite these monthly trends, 2016 is off to a strong start with robust year-over-year growth. January median list prices are expected to show a substantial increase of 8 percent year-over-year, despite a slight decrease from December. Homes are selling 4 percent faster this year when compared to last year. “Our initial readings on January affirm the positive growth we expect to see in the residential real estate market in 2016,” says Jonathan Smoke, chief economist of “A large number of prospective buyers have been telling us since the second half of 2015 that they plan to purchase in the spring and summer of 2016. All indicators point to this spring being the busiest since 2006, but we’ll need to see inventory grow more robustly this year to satisfy these buyers,” adds Smoke. “The decline in the stock market so far seems to be a net positive for real estate demand. Fixed 30-year mortgage rates are now about 25 basis points lower than at the end of 2015.”
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* Homeownership Finally Rising After a Decade of Decline. Homeownership rates continue to rise for a second quarter in a row due to job growth and the ability to gain credit. According to the Census Bureau, the share of Americans who own their homes was 63.8% in the fourth quarter, up from 63.4% in the previous three months. Per Bloomberg Business, “The homeownership rate has found a floor,” Matthew Pointon, U.S. property economist for Capital Economics. “We expect it to rise very gradually over the next few years.” Per the Census Bureau’s second quarter report: for householders from 35 – 44 years of age, the homeownership rate increased the most, from 58.1 to 59.3%. For householders 65 years and older, the homeownership rate also rose slightly, from 78.7% to 79.3%. For householders from 45 – 54 years of age, the homeownership rate rose slightly, from 69.9% to 70.1%. For householders from 55 – 64 years of age, the homeownership rate fell, from 75.3% to 75.2%.
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Have a productive week!

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