Thursday, August 20, 2009

Homes still affordable - really affordable

Homes still affordable - really affordable

The bright side of the housing bust: Homebuying has not been this affordable in a generation.NEW YORK

( -- Homes continue to be more affordable than they have been in nearly two decades. The typical American family, making the nation's median income of $64,000 a year, could afford to buy 72.3% of all homes sold in the United States during the second quarter, according a quarterly report from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and Wells Fargo (WFC, Fortune 500). That's off just a tad from the record 72.5% reached during the first three months of 2009, but up substantially from the second quarter of 2008 when only 55% of homes sold were affordable. "The increase in affordability -- along with the $8,000 federal tax credit for home buyers -- is stimulating demand, particularly among young, first-time buyers," said NAHB Chairman Joe Robson, a homebuilder from Tulsa, Okla., in a prepared statement. The NAHB judges a home to be affordable if a family making the metro area's median income could devote no more than 28% of their take-home pay toward housing costs. The vast improvement this year is due to plunging prices and rock-bottom interest rates. The average U.S. home price has dropped more than 32% from its peak, which was set during the summer of 2006, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price index. And, for most of the three months mortgage rates were historically low, under 5% for a 30-year fixed-rate loan. Long suffering sellers The improved affordability comes, of course, at the expense of sellers. Real estate Web site Zillow reported that more than 30% of all homes sold during the three months ended June 30 went for less than what the sellers originally paid. The longer they owned the home, the more likely they were to profit from the resale, but virtually anyone who bought within the past five years and sold during the quarter lost money on the deal, according to Stan Humphries, Zillow's vice president in charge of data and analytics. Foreclosure factor The heartbreak among home sellers is compounded by the foreclosure problem. Many of the homes on the market got there because families lost their homes to foreclosure. Part of the reason that home prices have become so reasonable is the volume of REOs -- real estate speak for homes repossessed by banks -- has spiked. There were more than 87,000 repossessions in July, about triple the number of July 2007. Foreclosed homes are often listed and sold at steep discounts to produce quick sales, according to Brad Geisen, founder of, which markets such properties. "The big banks are finally pricing their properties to what people will pay for them," he said. "Foreclosure inventory is now selling at about the same rate it's coming in." Most affordable cities The older, industrial Midwest cities generally offer the best bargains. Indianapolis has led the NAHB's Housing Opportunity Index for 16 straight quarters. Nearly 95% of all homes sold there were affordable to those earning the area's median income of $68,100. Other leaders were the Youngstown, Ohio, metro area, Detroit, Dayton, Ohio, and Grand Rapids, Mich. The least affordable large metro areas were New York, where only 21% of homes sold were affordable, Honolulu, San Francisco,Los Angeles and Santa Ana, Calif. By Les Christie, staff writer

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Pending Home Sales Are The Best Since 2003

Pending Home Sale Up Again!
The National Association of REALTORS has announced that pending homes sales are up again in June. This is the 5th month in a row that these anticipated real estate sales have been up - something that hasn't happened in six years since July of 2003.
From a Pending Homes Sales Index (PHSI) of 80.4 in January 2009, activity has grown to 94.6 as of June. That is an increase of over 17% since the beginning of the year. An index of 100 is based on 2001 sales and coincides with a historically high level of home sales activity. The index measures housing contract activity. It is based on signed real estate contracts for existing single-family homes, condos and co-ops. A signed contract is not counted as a sale until the transaction closes. Modeling for the PHSI looks at the monthly relationship between existing-home sale contracts and transaction closings over the last four years.
For a video of the announcement, go to:
Jim Armstrong