Home sales fall in Corridor, statewide

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Less time on the market needed for sales in July

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George C. Ford

The Gazette

Fewer homes were sold last month in Iowa and the Corridor compared with July 2015. But it took less time on average to make a sale.

The Cedar Rapids Area Association of Realtors reported 511 homes were sold last month, down from 663 in July 2015. The average sale price was $179,570, down from $188,683 in the same month a year ago.

A Cedar Rapids home had been on the market an average of 60 days before it was sold in July, down from 67 days in July 2015.

At the southern end of the Corridor, the Iowa City Area Association of Realtors reported 483 homes were sold in July, down from 513 in the same month of 2015. The average sale price declined to $217,694 last month from $222,572 in July 2015.

A home in the Iowa City area had been on the market an average of 60 days before it was sold in July, down from 70 days in July 2015.

Statewide, the Iowa Association of Realtors reported 4,386 homes were sold last month, down from 4,798 in July 2015. The average sale price rose to $179,710 in July from $176,710 in the same month last year.

Average time on the market before a home was sold rose to 72 days in July from 65 days in the same month last year.

“In many areas of Iowa, the market favors sellers in terms of inventory. However, buyers still experience very low mortgage rates,” Iowa Association of Realtors President Ken Clark said in a news release.

Existing home sales nationwide declined 3.2 percent to an annual rate of 5.39 million units last month, according to the National Association of Realtors. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast sales slipping 0.4 percent to a 5.51 million-unit pace in July.

The median home price rose 5.3 percent from July 2015 to $244,100 last month. Houses typically had been on the market for 36 days before they were sold in July, down from 42 days in July 2015.

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Continuing education another key for Mississippi real estate agents …

LISA HOLLISTER

LISA HOLLISTER

By LYNN LOFTON 

State realtors find it’s important to continue learning to remain viable in a changing industry and world. Much of that education is obtained through the Mississippi Association of Realtors.

Lisa W. Hollister, president of MAR, explains why real estate professionals invest in continuing education. “The relationship that a realtor shares with his/her client is based on trust because the realtor owes the client the fiduciary duties of obedience, loyalty, disclosure, confidentiality, full accounting, and reasonable skill and care,” she said.

“To successfully fulfill these duties in an ever-changing business, a realtor is required to take 16 hours of continuing education every two years to renew a license with the Mississippi Real Estate Commission.”

These hours focus on agency, two hours on contract law, two hours on license law, and eight hours of elective courses which offer information relating to current trends in real estate.

Hollister is broker associate for Moran Realty in Ocean Springs, the oldest real estate company in Mississippi, and she has been licensed since 1993.

She says a major change for Realtors that has come about this year with a background check/finger printing law that went into effect in July, a measure the association promoted.

“Public safety and professionalism are top concerns for Mississippi realtors. We understand the trust our clients give us when we list their home and offer it for sale to the public,” she said. “Through the traditional practice of cooperation with other agents in a market area, which enhances the sale by creating a larger inventory of potential buyers, multiple agents have access to a property.”

She says it’s a self-imposed law that will totally change the way realtors do business. “It raises the standards, and people will know who’s coming into their homes.”

During the first quarter of her presidency, she traveled to all 21 boards in the association, discussing with members the 2016 legislative packet, which included the association’s priority bill, and met with overwhelming approval.

“Of course, new means different, so we have made efforts to educate our members on the process, and we are encouraged by positive reports from Mississippi appraisers who faced the same requirement two years ago,” Hollister said.

The Mississippi Realtor Institute is the education division of MAR and is the premier provider of Mississippi-specific real estate and home inspection education. It is the only real estate school in the state with a 50-year track record of quality courses taught by top producing realtors. It’s also the only provider in Mississippi approved by the National Association of Realtors to award the Graduate Realtor Institute designation.

“We work with our local boards across the state to provide sales pre-licensing, broker, and continuing education courses in classroom settings and online,” Hollister said.

“These classes are offered throughout the year and a schedule is available on our website, realtorinstitute.org or by calling our office  at 601-608-0216.”

Another change for realtors is that the National Association of Relators will require ethics training every two years instead of every four years beginning in 2017. The NAR code of ethics was put into practice in 1913. This is another example of self policing as the industry strives for improvement, Hollister said.

“Not all people who have a real estate license are Realtors. Although both are licensed to sell real estate, the basic difference is that a Realtor is a member of the National Association of Realtors and must subscribe to a strict code of ethics,” she said.

“The code remains a living, dynamic statement that is updated annually to guide Realtors in their daily professional lives.”

For example, the code requires these professionals to be competent, conform to standards of practice and to refuse to provide services for which they are unqualified. Also, Realtors pledge to put the interests of buyers and sellers ahead of their own, to treat all parties honestly, and to give equal professional service to all clients and customers irrespective of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, or sexual orientation.

Fed: Real estate loan demand jumped in Q2

Fed: Real estate loan demand jumps in Q2

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Demand for residential real estate loans strengthened in the second quarter over the previous period, a Federal Reserve survey said.

Demand also spiked for home equity lines of credit.

That’s according to the Fed’s Senior Loan Officer Opinion Survey on Bank Lending Practices released late last month. It’s based on responses from 71 domestic banks and 23 U.S. branches of foreign banks.

Read: Refinance into a 15-year mortgage and save.

Most mortgage lending standards unchanged

Some banks tightened standards on subprime residential mortgages but eased lending standards for mortgage loans eligible for purchase by so-called government-sponsored enterprises such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

“Banks left lending standards basically unchanged for all other categories of (residential real estate) loans,” the report said.

RATE SEARCH: Do you need a 30-year mortgage? Compare mortgage rates today.

Mixed market signals

Other statistical data on the real estate market has been mixed. Existing home sales dropped 3.2% in July after rising in each of the previous 4 months, a sign that inventory levels are low in many parts of the country, the National Association of Realtors said.

Heading in the opposite direction, sales of new residential homes jumped in July, making it the best month in almost 9 years. Sales increased 12.4%, or 654,000 units, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.

“Although home sales are still expected to finish the year at their strongest pace since the downturn, thanks to a very strong spring, the housing market is undershooting its full potential because of inadequate existing inventory combined with new home construction failing to catch up with underlying demand,” NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said.

The state of the housing market could have a tremendous impact on the Federal Open Market Committee when it considers whether to hike interest rates in September.

RATE SEARCH: Check out Bankrate.com for your best refinance options.

A need for new housing construction

If home sales end the year on a positive note, it won’t be a surprise to observers like Ed Brady, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders.

“This rise in new home sales is consistent with our builders’ reports that market conditions have been improving,” said Brady, a home builder and developer from Bloomington, Illinois. “As existing home inventory remains flat, we should see more consumers turning to new construction.”

NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz said the results also show a need for new housing construction.

“July’s positive report shows there is a need for new single-family homes, buoyed by increased household formation, job gains and attractive mortgage rates,” Dietz said. “This uptick in demand should translate into increased housing production throughout 2016 and into next year.”

RATE SEARCH: Compare at least 2 mortgage lenders.

Celebrity home of the week

Eve Plumb: Sylvain Gaboury/Getty Images; House: Realtor.com

Eve Plumb: Sylvain Gaboury/Getty Images; House: Realtor.com

Eve Plumb, who played middle sister Jan on the beloved 1970s sitcom “The Brady Bunch,” has gotten nearly $4 million for the Malibu beach house she bought with her parents in 1969, when she was an 11-year-old budding star. Her real estate agent says the purchase price back then was a mere $55,300, according to Realtor.com.

RTI comment of the week

Bankrate’s Rate Trend Index is a weekly snapshot of how real estate professionals feel about the market. Here is what Elizabeth Rose, sales manager at Movement Mortgage in Dallas, said this week:

“Janet Yellen will be on the stump later this week, speaking at the annual economic policy symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Like the old E.F. Hutton slogan (“When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen”), traders will be listening, hanging on every word for clues for the next rate hike. Mortgage bonds have been trading in a tight range and have been unable to gain any momentum to break out. Yellen’s comments could be the catalyst, although I expect any reaction in mortgage bonds to be short-lived and the sideways pattern to continue keeping mortgage rates flat.

Graph of the week

Tweet of the week

NWI home sales down in July, but still up for year

Northwest Indiana home sales

Sales of existing homes down in July in Lake and LaPorte counties, but were up in Porter County as compared to July 2015.

LAKE COUNTY

July

Units sold: 587, down 6.1 percent

Median selling price: $159,900, up 7.3 percent

Year to date

Units sold: 3,543, up 8.1 percent

Median selling price: $145,000, up 6.5 percent

PORTER COUNTY

July

Units sold: 267, up 5.1 percent

Median selling price: $178,000, up 6.0 percent

Year to date

Units sold: 1,372, up 8.3 percent

Median selling price: $179,900, up 5.8 percent

LAPORTE COUNTY

July

Units sold: 104, down 25.7 percent

Median selling price: $165,450, up 37.9 percent

Year to date

Units sold: 722, up 7.1 percent

Median selling price: $123,000, up 9.3 percent

Source: Greater Northwest Indiana Association of Realtors


Existing home sales decline in July

Against the backdrop of a tightening labor market that is steadily pushing up wages, and mortgage rates near historically low levels, July’s drop in sales is likely to be temporary.

The government reported on Tuesday that new home sales vaulted to a nine-year high in July. Housing market strength along with robust consumer spending are expected to underpin economic growth in the third quarter.

Existing home sales fell in the Northeast, the South and the Midwest, but rose 2.5 percent in the West.

The number of unsold homes on the market in July inched up 0.9 percent to 2.13 million. But supply was down 5.8 percent from a year ago. At July’s sales pace, it would take 4.7 months to clear the stock of houses on the market, up from 4.5 months in June. A six-month supply is viewed as a healthy balance.

With inventory still tight, the median house price rose 5.3 percent from a year ago to $244,100 last month. The NAR said rising prices were causing problems with appraisals, leading to delays in closing contracts.

Click here to track shares of homebuilders.

Big expectations for New Home Sales report

The National Association of Realtors is due to release its report on existing home sales for July later today.

The report is highly anticipated after the level of existing home sales in June soared to an annual rate of 592K, the best monthly rate in more than seven years.

Economist expect a mark of 580K for July.

“Sustained job growth as well as this year’s descent in mortgage rates is undoubtedly driving the appetite for home purchases,” noted NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun.

Most (and Least) Expensive Housing Markets

For the first time, the median price of a home in a U.S. metro area passed the $1 million mark. A typical home in the San Jose, California area sold in the second quarter of 2016 for $1,085,000, more than four times the national median home price of $240,700.

Housing prices vary considerably between metro areas. To determine the most and least expensive housing markets, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed median single-family home prices from the National Association of Realtors. In contrast to San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, California the least expensive U.S. housing market is Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, located on the border between Ohio and Pennsylvania, with a median home price of only $85,400.

Housing prices tend to correlate with an area’s median household income. Not only is San Jose the most expensive U.S. housing market, but it also has the highest median household income, at $96,481 a year. Incomes are almost always higher in areas with relatively expensive housing, while the opposite tends to be true in the least expensive markets.

Click here to see the most expensive housing markets.

Click here to see the most expensive housing markets.

Although incomes tend to be higher in expensive housing markets, homes are considerably less affordable in these markets. Nationwide, the median household income is more than enough to qualify for a mortgage to purchase a typical home. In the San Jose region, by contrast, a household would need to earn more than double the median income in the area to qualify for a loan on a typical home. With a 20% down payment, a minimum annual income of $198,355 is needed to qualify for a mortgage on a typical San Jose area home.

By contrast, while the median household income in Youngstown is only $42,228 annually, a typical home is considerably more affordable. With a 20% down payment, an area household earning just $15,612 a year could qualify for a loan. This means that a person earning minimum wage in the area could afford to purchase a home.

Because owning a home in the cheapest markets is much easier, homeownership rates tend to be higher in these areas. Homeownership rates are higher than the national rate in 24 of the 25 cheapest markets. The opposite is true in expensive markets, with the homeownership rates lower than the national rate in the majority of areas.

To identify the most and least expensive housing markets, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed median single-family home prices in the second quarter of 2016 as released by the National Association of Realtors. Qualifying incomes assuming a 20% down payment for metro areas are also from the NAR for the same time period. Median household incomes and homeownership rates are from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2014 American Community Survey. We calculated monthly mortgage payments using a 3.9% interest rate and assuming a 20% down payment — the same measures used by the NAR to compare housing affordability at the metro area level.

These are the 25 most (and 25 least) expensive housing markets.

Ahead of the Bell: US existing-home sales

The National Association of Realtors reports on July sales of existing homes Wednesday at 10 a.m. Eastern.

SALES DIP: Economists expect that sales fell 1.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.51 million, according to a survey by the data firm FactSet. That would be a pullback from June’s 1.1 gain percent gain to a rate of 5.57 million, the highest level since February 2007.

LIMITED SUPPLIES: Fewer existing homes are coming onto the market this year, creating a potential ceiling for sales growth as homebuilders struggle to keep up with demand for new homes. The number of listings has fallen 5.8 percent from a year ago to 2.12 million.

Low mortgage and unemployment rates are bringing even more would-be buyers into the market, which could drive home prices, already on the rise, out of reach for many of them.

The median home sales price for existing homes reached $247,700 in June, up 4.8 percent from a year ago. The increase was roughly double the pace of average hourly wage gains. That has created more financial headwinds for Americans still rebuilding equity lost after the housing bubble almost a decade ago.

Builders are attempting get more homes on the market. Sales of new homes climbed 12.4 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted rate of 654,000 annual units, the strongest level since October 2007, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. Yet demand has eclipsed even that surge. Just 4.3 months’ supply of new homes is available on the market, down from 5.2 months a year ago.

One thing that would-be buyers have in their favor, in addition to the improved landscape for jobs, is those near record-low mortgage rates.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell to 3.43 percent last week from 3.98 percent a year ago. The average rate has historically been closer to six percent.

Eugene Association of Realtors & OMA Annual Putt Putt-CASA Benefit

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