Pending home sales drop more than expected

Home buying cooled in December, but is still stronger than it was a year ago.A monthly index from the National Association of Realtors measuring signed contracts to buy existing homes fell 3.7 percent from a downwardly revised November reading, but it is 6.1 percent above December of 2013. This, after closed sales in December (contracts signed one to two months earlier) rose 2.4 percent from November. “Total inventory fell in December for the first time in 16 months, resulting in fewer choices for buyers and a modest uptick in price growth in markets throughout the country,” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the association. “With interest rates at lows not seen since early 2013, the strength in existing sales in upcoming months will largely depend on the willingness of current homeowners to realize their equity gains from the past couple years and trade up.” Conversely, a reading by the U.S. Census of signed contracts to buy newly built homes rose over 11 percent in December, and both Realtors and home builders have been noting increased buyer traffic in the past few months. One of the nation’s largest home builders, PulteGroup (PHM), reported better-than-expected fourth quarter 2014 earnings Thursday.

Read More Weekly mortgage applications drop after tiny rise in rates “We are optimistic heading into 2015 as buyer sentiment began improving in late November, supporting stronger traffic and signup levels throughout December and into January,” said Richard J. Dugas, Jr., President and CEO of PulteGroup. Dugas pointed to an improving economy, rising employment, lower mortgage rates and lower energy costs for the increased interest in home buying.

Read More Mixed signals for spring housing season The Realtors’ index dropped most in the Northeast, down 7.5 percent month-to-month. It was down 2.8 percent in the Midwest, and down 2.6 percent in the South. In the West, which has been seeing stronger sales lately, the index fell 4.6 percent. The Realtors are predicting 2015 total sales to increase by 6.6 percent from 2014 to 5.26 million. Total sales in 2014 were lower than 2013.

Pennsylvania Real Estate Firms in Business Longer than National Average

LEMOYNE, Pa., Jan. 29, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Real estate firms tend to have more staying power in Pennsylvania compared to national averages, according to a recent survey conducted for the Pennsylvania Association of Realtors(R) (PAR).

Fifty-nine percent of firms owned by association members report their firms have been in business for at least 16 years, compared to just 46 percent of firms nationwide that have been in business at least as long. According to research collected by Keystone Analytics(R), 69 percent of firms in Pennsylvania have been in business for at least 11 years, also outpacing the nationwide average of 55 percent of firms who make it to more than 10 years of business.

“Pennsylvania has a steady real estate market,” according to PAR President Ron Croushore. “It’s no surprise that firms here have a long history in their communities. This expertise and knowledge of the real estate market makes Pennsylvania Realtors(R) a valuable resource to home buyers and sellers.”

The survey also revealed that Pennsylvania real estate firms are less likely than firms nationwide to be confined to a single office. In the National Association of Realtors(R)’ (NAR) survey of firm owners nationwide, 81 percent of firms were identified as having a single office, where 70 percent of firm owners in PA had a single office. Twenty-four percent of Pennsylvania firms had at least two offices, compared to 19 percent of firms nationwide.

The online survey of Pennsylvania real estate firm managers compared the characteristics of real estate firms in the Commonwealth to firms across the nation recently surveyed by the National Association of Realtors(R). The survey yielded a statistically valid response rate of 6 percent, with 165 Realtor(R) members identified as likely firm owners responding from a sample of about 2,700 members.

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The Pennsylvania Association of Realtors(R) is a trade/professional association that serves more than 30,000 members in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Keystone Analytics(R) is a Pennsylvania-based business and research firm that provides a cohesive approach to a wide range of services, including market and constituent surveys and analysis, and conducting issues management.

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Pending Home Sales Dipped Sharply in December

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) Thursday morning released its data on pending sales of existing homes in December. The pending home sales index fell 3.7% from a downwardly revised index reading of 104.6 in November to the December reading of 100.7. That’s 6.1% higher than in December 2013, when the index reading was 94.9. The consensus estimate called for a month-over-month increase of 0.9% in pending sales.

The pending home sales index reflects signed contracts, not sales closings. An index reading of 100 equals the average level of contract signings during 2001.

While the month-over-month decline is the largest since December 2013, the index rose 11.7% for the year, its largest year-over-year gain since June 2013. The NAR’s chief economist noted:

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Total inventory fell in December for the first time in 16 months, resulting in fewer choices for buyers and a modest uptick in price growth in markets throughout the country. With interest rates at lows not seen since early 2013, the strength in existing-sales in upcoming months will largely depend on the willingness of current homeowners to realize their equity gains from the past couple years and trade up.

Home sales fell in all four of the NAR’s geographic regions. Pending home sales in the Northeast decreased 7.5% in December, posting an index reading of 82.1, up 6.3% from December 2013. The index fell 2.8% in the Midwest but is 1.9% below last December’s reading. Pending sales slid 2.6% in the South but are 8.6% higher than a year ago. Sales dropped by 4.6% in the West, to an index score of 94, but are still up 6.3% over year-ago levels.

Related Articles

NAR Video Spotlight: 2015 Housing Market Forecast

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Editor’s Note: This is part of a monthly video series from the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® that aims to refresh and educate members about important aspects of being a REALTOR®. Watch for this series each month in RISMedia’s Daily Real Estate Advisor.

In this video, NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun talks about the outlook for the 2015 housing market. He expects existing-home sales to rise about 7 percent in 2015 behind a strengthening economy, solid job gains and a healthy increase in home prices.

See an infographic containing information from Lawrence Yun’s forecast video.



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NAR: Existing-Home Sales Up 2.4% In December

After falling 6.1% in November, existing-home sales were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.04 million in December – up 2.4% from a downwardly revised 4.92 million in November and up 3.5% compared to December 2013, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

Median home prices for 2014 rose to their highest level since 2007, but total sales fell 3.1% from 2013.

There were a total of about 4.93 million existing-home sales in December, a 3.1% decline from 2013′s rate of 5.09 million.

The national median existing-home price was $208,500, up 5.8% from $197,100 in December 2013 to the highest level since 2007.

Lawrence Yun, chief economist for NAR, says the slight pickup at the end of the year was an encouraging sign.

“Home sales improved over the summer once inventory increased, prices moderated and economic growth accelerated,” Yun says in a statement. “Sales were measurably better in the second half – up 8 percent compared to the first six months of the year.”

Total housing inventory at the end of December dropped 11.1% to 1.85 million existing homes available for sale. At the current sales rate, that’s about a 4.4-month supply.

Unsold inventory was about 0.5% lower compared to December 2013, when the supply was about 1.86 million homes.

“A drop in housing supply in December raises some affordability concerns in the months ahead, as minimal selection and the potential for faster price appreciation could offset the demand from buyers encouraged by a stronger economy and sub-4 percent interest rates,” says Yun. “Housing costs – both rents and home prices – continue to outpace wages and are burdensome for potential buyers trying to save for a down payment while looking for available homes in their price range.”

About 29% of existing-home sales in December were to first-time home buyers, down from 31% in November but up from 27% a year ago. First-time buyers in 2014 represented an average of 29% for the second straight year.

A separate NAR survey released in late 2014 revealed that the annual share of first-time buyers fell to its lowest level in nearly three decades.

Chris Polychron, president of NAR, says Realtors are optimistic that the cuts in mortgage insurance premiums going into effect at the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) on Jan. 26 will help spur more first-time buyers to purchase homes in 2015.

“NAR is a strong supporter of the FHA and its vital role in the mortgage marketplace for home buyers,” he says. “Realtors support responsible lending to qualified borrowers, and the move to lower premiums will enable more buyers to enter the market while continuing to protect taxpayers from the risky lending practices that led to the housing crash.”

All-cash sales were 26% of transactions in December, up from 25% in November and up from 32% in December of last year.

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Pending home sales fall, despite cheap borrowing costs

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Pending sales of existing homes fell in December, but remained above year-ago levels.

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Jeff Clabaugh
Broadcast/Web Reporter- Washington Business Journal


Despite mortgage rates that remain near record lows, contracts signed to buy an existing home fell in December.

The National Association of Realtors says pending sales of existing homes fell 3.7 percent from November, though contract signings were still 6.1 percent above December 2013. That was the fourth consecutive month for higher year-over-year activity.

Pending sales are contracts signed to buy but the deals have not yet closed.

“Total inventory fell in December for the first time in 16 months, resulting in fewer choices for buyers and a modest uptick in price growth in markets throughout the country,” says NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun. “With interest rates at lows not seen since early 2013, the strength in existing sales in upcoming months will largely depend on the willingness of current homeowners to realize their equity gains from the past couple years and trade up.”

The Realtor’s association still forecasts total existing-home sales in 2015 to rise 6.6 percent from 2014, with prices rising between 4 and 5 percent.

Freddie Mac Thursday said mortgage rates crept higher for the first time in 2015 this week, with a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaging 3.66 percent, up from 3.63 percent last week. A year ago, 30-year rates were averaging 4.31 percent.

Jeff Clabaugh covers general assignment and provides business coverage for WTOP.

Existing home sales rose in December 2014

Why the Eurozone stimulus drove US Treasuries (Part 4 of 9)

(Continued from Part 3)

What are existing home sales?

Existing home sales are computed and reported monthly by the National Association of Realtors, or NAR. The NAR states that the report focuses on the number and prices of “single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops.” Apart from figures for the overall nation, the report provides information for the West, Midwest, South, and Northeast regions of the US.

The December 2014 report

The NAR’s December 2014 report showed that existing home sales increased 2.4% to an annual rate of 5.04 million units. Existing home sales increased from a downward revised 4.92 million pace in November. The pace remained above 5 million sales for six out of the past seven months.

Although pre-owned home sales rose month-over-month, they fell in 2014. The year saw 4.93 million sales. This was down 3.1% from 2013. It showed that there was weak housing activity in the past year.

On the positive side, the median existing-home price in the US was $208,500 for 2014—a 5.8% rise from 2013. This price was the highest since 2007. In 2007, the median existing-home price was $219,000.

Inventory falls

Housing inventory fell 11.1% in December 2014. It fell to 1.85 million pre-owned homes for sale. At the current sales pace, it represents a supply for 4.4 months—down from 5.1 months in November 2014. In the current scenario, a housing supply fall could offset buyer demand. This is due to fewer selection choices and the potential for a quicker price rise.

Rising house prices can be seen in terms of the median price estimate for all types of existing homes. The median price estimate was $209,500 in December 2014. It was up 6% from December 2013.

First-time buyers stay away

First-time home buyers made up only 29% of the total sales in December 2014—down from 31% in November. These buyers averaged 29% of the entire sales in 2014. This was the same as 2013. US builders—like KB Home (KBH), PulteGroup (PHM), and D.R. Horton (DHI)—have more exposure to first-time homebuyers.

Investors who want to gain exposure to the entire homebuilding sector should look at the SP SPDR Homebuilder ETF (XHB) or the iShares Dow Jones US Home Construction Index Fund (ITB).

In the next part of this series, we’ll look at the business cycle indicators. The indicators are computed by The Conference Board.

Continue to Part 5

Browse this series on Market Realist:

U.S existing home sales fall 1% MoM in Dec 2012

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LEMOYNE, Pa., Jan. 28, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Ron Croushore, owner and chief executive officer of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices The Preferred Realty in Pittsburgh, was installed as the 2015 president of the Pennsylvania Association of Realtors(R) during a ceremony in Harrisburg yesterday.

“Consumers should ask Pennsylvania’s Realtors(R) to learn more about the real estate market in their communities. Realtors(R) are trusted resources in the home buying and selling process and they have the necessary expertise needed to help consumers realize the American dream of homeownership,” Croushore said.

Croushore has been active in the state association, chairing numerous committees including the Strategic Planning Committee and the Realtors(R) Political Action Committee (RPAC). He served as the state association’s treasurer and first vice president.

At the National Association of Realtors(R), he is a member of the board of directors and serves on several committees.

Croushore has served as president of the West Penn Multi-List, Inc., president of the Realtors(R) Association of Metropolitan Pittsburgh (RAMP), and was named RAMP’s Realtor(R) of the Year.

In 2014, Croushore led his company through a successful brand transition from Prudential Preferred Realty to Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices The Preferred Realty, one of southwestern Pennsylvania’s largest real estate companies.

His industry accomplishments were recognized by RISMedia in 2011 when Croushore became the first recipient of the Real Estate Leadership Award, an award given to a member of the national real estate community who pursues innovation and exercises resilience. That same year, his national real estate franchisor network of 65,000 members named him Broker of the Year.

Since 2011, Croushore has served as the first-ever Realtor(R) to be appointed, by the Pennsylvania Legislature, onto the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) Board of Directors.

In addition, Croushore spearheads his company’s fundraising efforts for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, raising more than $1.1 million for the organization.
He is a graduate of the Pennsylvania State University and a lifetime resident of the Pittsburgh area, where he is an active member of the community.

The Pennsylvania Association of Realtors(R) is a trade/professional association that serves more than 30,000 members in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

A photo accompanying this release is available at:

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National Association of Professional Women Announces Randi Dickman, Broker …

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It is most rewarding when I find them the right home and they are happy with the transaction.

Garden City, NY (PRWEB) January 27, 2015

NAPW honors Randi Dickman, CRS, ABR, CDPE, SFR, E-Pro Certified, as a 2015 Professional Woman of the Year. Ms. Dickman is recognized with this prestigious distinction for leadership in real estate. As the largest networking organization of professional women in the country, the National Association of Professional Women is a powerfully vibrant networking community with over 600,000 members and over 200 Local Chapters.

“I always loved looking at houses while driving in the car with my parents when I was a kid,” recalls Ms. Dickman.

Years later, Ms. Dickman turned the curiosity she had about other people’s homes into a successful career. Now an award-winning Broker Associate at RE/MAX Signature Properties, Ms. Dickman has been helping clients buy and sell homes since 1999. A member of the National Association of Realtors and the New Jersey Association of Realtors, Ms. Dickman is extremely knowledgeable about the real estate markets in Monmouth, Ocean and Middlesex Counties in New Jersey, and the mortgage industry as a whole.

Honest and communicative, Ms. Dickman is always available to her clients. Whether they are first-time buyers looking for their dream homes, sellers anxious to find the right buyers or investors interested in short sales and foreclosures, Ms. Dickman will be there every step of the way. She knows how important a decision about buying or selling a home can be and does all she can to make it as stress-free as possible.

“I want my clients to be happy with what they purchase. My business is 90% referral and repeat business,” says Ms. Dickman. “It is most rewarding when I find them the right home and they are happy with the transaction. I stay involved throughout the entire process.” She is the recipient of the Five Star Professional Award from 2012 to 2015, an award given to only 2% of Realtors in NJ.

Awards amp; Accomplishments: Monmouth / Ocean Board of Realtors; Middlesex Board of Realtors; Garden State MLS; CDPE (Certified Distressed Property Expert); 100% Award – RE/MAX; Silver Award Circle of Excellence – RE/MAX

NAPW’s mission is to provide an exclusive, highly advanced networking forum to successful women executives, professionals and entrepreneurs where they can aspire, connect and achieve. Through innovative resources, unique tools and progressive benefits, professional women interact, exchange ideas, advance their knowledge and empower each other.

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