The National Association of Realtor’s analysis of January existing-home sales was released This Week in Real Estate, concluding sales are at the fastest pace since early 2007, while the job market shows signs of strength as evidenced by the four week average of unemployment benefits declined to the lowest level since 1973. Below are a few highlights from the third week of February that influence our business:
* Existing-Home Sales Begin 2017 With a Bang. Existing-home sales began 2017 with a bang, growing 3.3 percent and hitting a 10-year high in January, according to the National Association of Realtors. With the exception of the Midwest, every region saw gains, with total sales reaching 5.69 million – the fastest pace since February 2007. “Much of the country saw robust sales activity last month as strong hiring and improved consumer confidence at the end of last year appear to have sparked considerable interest in buying a home,” says Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. “Market challenges remain, but the housing market is off to a prosperous start as homebuyers staved off inventory levels that are far from adequate and deteriorating affordability conditions.” Total housing inventory at the end of January rose 2.4 percent to 1.69 million existing homes available for sale, but is still 7.1 percent lower than a year ago (1.82 million) and has fallen year-over-year for 20 straight months. Unsold inventory is at a 3.6 month supply at the current sales pace. Existing-home sales in the West ascended 6.6 percent to an annual rate of 1.29 million in January, and are now 8.4 percent above a year ago. The median price in the West was $332,300, up 6.8 percent from January 2016.
Full Story… https://www.nar.realtor/news-releases/2017/02/existing-home-sales-jump-in-january
* Claims for Jobless Benefits in U.S. Point to Firm Job Market. A tight labor market and growing economy are prompting companies to hold on to employees. The four-week average declined to the lowest level since July 1973. The four-week moving average decreased by 4,000 to 241,000, the lowest since July 21, 1973. The latest tally marks 103 straight weeks of claims below 300,000, the level economists consider consistent with a healthy labor market. The 161-week period that ended in April 1970 was the longest such streak in records back to 1967.
Full Story… https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-02-23/claims-for-jobless-benefits-in-u-s-point-to-firm-job-market
* New Home Sales Post Slight Increase. New home sales contracts expanded by 3.7% in January over a soft December reading, according to estimates from the joint data release of HUD and the Census Bureau. Despite the gain, which places the January pace of sales 5.5% higher than a year ago, the current seasonally adjusted annual rate of 555,000 is slightly below the positive growth trend that has been in place over the last few years. Inventory growth continued in January. After hovering near 240,000 for most of 2016, inventory increased to 247,000 in October, 256,000 in December and 265,000 in January. The current months’ supply number stands at 5.7, higher than the existing market (3.6) estimate. Solid builder confidence and ongoing tight inventory conditions suggest continued growth for single-family construction in the months ahead. An open question is pricing, given rising construction prices and increasing interest rates. New homes will need to be competitively priced, even as prices for existing homes continue to grow. For this reason, we continue to expect a broadening of the new home inventory base and slight declines in median new home size.
Full Story… http://eyeonhousing.org/2017/02/new-home-sales-post-slight-increase/
Have a productive week!