Luxury real estate professionals Ron and Bozena Suponcic, of Re/Max Alliance Group, have once again earned the Five Star Real Estate Agent Award for customer satisfaction. They have won this prestigious award a combined total of 18 times. Based on an independent survey of recent home buyers, the Five Star Award is presented to fewer than 7 percent of real estate agents and is based on customer service, integrity, market knowledge, communication, negotiation, closing preparation, post-sale service, finding the right home, marketing of the home and overall satisfaction. Agents must also receive a favorable regulatory and complaint-history review. With 30 years of real estate experience, the Suponcics are Million Dollar Guild members, the Suponcics are multi-year members of the Re/Max Platinum Club, performing in the top 7 percent of Re/Max agents worldwide.
At ERA Advantage Realty Inc., in Port Charlotte, Evelyn Walinchus was the Top Selling Associate in January and Geri Scarboro was the Top Listing Associate.
Martha Smith and Tim Paradiso were co-sales leaders for the month of January at Paradise Realty of Venice Inc.
Trish Chandler, a real estate agent in the Lakewood Ranch office of Michael Saunders Co., has received the Resort Second-Home Property Specialist certification. Chandler has been a real estate professional for over 20 years.
The RSPS designation is recognized as an official National Association of Realtors certification. It allows buyers and sellers to have confidence in the ability of an agent, who specializes in buying, selling, or management of properties for investment, development, retirement, or second homes in a resort destination, to assist them with their search.
Michelle Crabtree, of Premier Sotheby’s International Realty, has been selected as a 2016 Five Star Real Estate Agent. This is the 10th year she has won the award for providing exceptional service and for overall satisfaction by clients, peers and industry experts, a distinction held by only the top 6 percent of agents.
Selection is determined by an independent research firm to determine which real estate agents in the Sarasota area rated the highest in key criteria, such as integrity, communication and customer service. Fewer than 7 percent of licensed agents in the Sarasota area are listed as Five Star Real Estate Agents.
Crabtree has been a licensed Florida real estate broker sales associate for over 30 years. She is a graduate of the 2014 Florida Realtors Leadership Academy and, in 2013, received the Meritorious Service Award from the Sarasota Association of Realtors and the Entrepreneur of the Year Award from the Sarasota Chapter of the Women’s Council of Realtors.
Barry Grooms, co-owner of Sarabay Real Estate Inc., is the 2017 treasurer of Florida Realtors, the state’s largest professional association with 165,000 members.
Grooms has served as president, vice president, treasurer, secretary and director of the Realtor Association of Sarasota and Bradenton. He is a former district vice president of Florida Realtors and has been a leader for its public policy and advocacy committees and forums. Grooms is an ethics instructor for the National Association of Realtors. As treasurer of the state association, Grooms will focus on enhancing Florida Realtors’ services, support and advocacy programs for real estate professionals.
Suzi Fraser, a buyer’s agent, has joined Courtney DeFilippis and Brittany Essig as a member of Tom Wagner’s team at Re/Max Alliance Group, in Sarasota.
Fraser has 12 years of real estate experience, specializing in luxury and investment properties in Boca Grande, Palm Island, Placida and Cape Haze. She has a background as a sports management professional with Ironman North America and owns a property management firm, NAS Real Estate LLC, based in Colorado.
A dual citizen of the United States and Canada, Fraser received her bachelor’s degree in biology from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. She is a Certified Seniors Specialist.
The Venice Board of Realtors has recognized the achievements of area real estate sales associates, including H. Lauden Pitts, with Realtor Emeritus recognition. Pitts, of Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate in Osprey, was recognized with a 25-year pin.
Gail Kelly has joined the Venice office of Michael Saunders Co. Kelly has 24-plus years of real estate experience. She worked as a top producer with buyers and sellers in Connecticut, where she was born and raised. She owned and operated her first business by the age of 22 and has the Certified Home Ownership designation.
Cheri Guentner, of Re/Max Platinum Realty, has been inducted into the Re/Max Hall of Fame, which honors successful agents for performance during their Re/Max careers. Specializing in luxury and waterfront properties, Guenter has been active in local real estate since 1989. She and her husband, Bryan, co-own Re/Max Platinum Realty, which maintains four offices in Sarasota and Manatee counties. She splits her time between the downtown Sarasota and Osprey offices.
Janine Morris, a top-producing agent in Wagner Realty’s downtown Sarasota office, has been accepted into the Leadership Academy of the Realtor Association of Sarasota and Manatee. The rigorous program is designed to train emerging agents into leaders who want to get involved, make a difference and expand their businesses and leadership skills. Only 15 RASM members were selected from the growing list of candidates who submitted an application.
As a participant, Morris will be immersed in a classroom setting, group sessions, team-building exercises, goal setting, networking techniques and communication skills.
SPRINGFIELD — Sales of single-family homes fell 23.3 percent across the Pioneer Valley in February, a decline realtors blame, once again, on a lack of homes to sell.
There were 305 homes sold in February 2016 and 234 sold in February 2017, according to numbers supplied Friday by the Realtor Association of Pioneer Valley.
“I really think our sales numbers are shadowing a lack of inventory,” said Richard Sawicki of Sawicki Real Estate in Amherst, president of the Realtor Association of Pioneer Valley.
It’s been a common theme in real estate numbers over the past few months, with owners reluctant to part with homes and few new homes being built. The inventory of homes on the market fell 32.6 percent from 2,110 homes for sale in February.
The median price fetched by those homes was up 3.2 percent, from $174,500 in February 2016 to $180,000 in February 2017.
The Realtor Association looks at arms-length transactions — ones where the buyer and seller are not working together — that go through the multiple listing service. These are deals that were reached in December and January, traditionally slow months in real estate, and only became final in February.
Numbers are compared with data from a year ago in order to account for seasonal changes in the market.
- Hampden County: Sales were down 21.9 percent from 219 closed sales in February 2016 to 171 in February 2017. The median price was up 3.8 percent from $158,900 in February 2016 to $165,000 in February 2017.
- Hampshire County: Sales were down 13 percent from 54 in February 2016 to 47 in February 2017. The median price was down 4.7 percent from $256,000 in February 2016 to $244,000 in February 2017.
- Franklin County: Sales were down 31.3 percent from 32 in February 2016 to 22 in February 2017. The median price was down 25.4 percent from $193,000 in February 2016 to $144,000 in February 2017.
- Days on Market: The average days on market fell 14.7 percent. Homes for sale in February 2016 averaged 134 days on the market. In February 2017 that had fallen to 411.
- Pending Sales: Listings under agreement to sale are up 3.3 percent from 398 in February 2016 to 411 in February 2017.
- Mortgage rates: A 30-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 4.16 percent in February, that’s compared with 3.62 percent for the same time a year earlier.
On the national level:
Total existing-home sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, fell 3.7 percent in February to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.48 million from 5.69 million in January, the National Association of Realtors said. Despite last month’s decline, February’s sales pace is still 5.4 percent above a year ago.
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said in a prepared statement that closings retreated in February as too few properties for sale and weakening affordability conditions stifled buyers in most of the country.
“Realtors are reporting stronger foot traffic from a year ago, but low supply in the affordable price range continues to be the pest that’s pushing up price growth and pressuring the budgets of prospective buyers,” he said. “Newly listed properties are being snatched up quickly so far this year and leaving behind minimal choices for buyers trying to reach the market.”
The world is always changing and, as of late, the rate of change has accelerated. Depending on your viewpoint, change can be good or bad, but one thing is for certain — it’s inevitable.
There are a variety of indices, or metrics if you will, that we follow to measure where we’ve been, and where we might be going, in the world of real estate. The performance of real estate locally might be different, but for the big picture, here are the national numbers that tell the tale of how the market is doing.
•5.48 million: Every month, the National Association of Realtors reports on the number of existing homes sold nationally on a Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate. The SAAR is where they take sales for the month and, based on that data, project an annual sales figure using a pre-determined adjustment for seasonal fluctuations. The figure for February of 5.48 million isn’t a bad number, but most economists agree that sales should be above 6 million for what would be considered a healthy market. During the housing bubble, sales actually topped 7 million in 2005. Except for a brief dip during 2013, existing home sales have steadily been trending upward for the past five years.
•592,000: In addition to existing home sales, it’s also important to track the pace of new construction. Those figures are also calculated on a Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate. In February, that number was 592,000, which is well below what we need to meet the needs of an ever-growing population. When the housing bubble burst, new home construction was decimated, and it has struggled to recover. Recently however, there seems to be a bit more vitality in the market for new homes. The National Association of Home Builders tracks builder confidence on a scale of 0 to 100. In January 2009, it fell to an all-time low of 8. The good news is that last month it hit a 12-year high, pushing past 70.
•4.3 percent: One of the most important drivers of home sales are mortgage rates. Currently, the average on a 30-year, fixed rate loan is 4.3 percent. Although rates have gone up some since the presidential election, they are still at historic lows and have remained low for several years now. Consequently, homebuyers have become a bit spoiled and are very sensitive to rising rates. The primary force behind higher rates is the Federal Reserve. When the Fed increases their discount rate or federal funds rate, which is what the Fed charges to loan money to other banks and what banks charge each other, that normally flows through to consumers in the form of higher rates for things such as car loans and mortgages.
In January 2008, the federal funds rate was 3.5 percent, but then the stock market started to meltdown, with the Dow Jones falling 777 points on Sept. 29, 2008. In an effort to forestall a financial catastrophe, the Fed reduced rates a record six times that year. By December, the funds rate was down to 0.25 percent and, because the economy was so weak, they didn’t increase rates again for another seven years. Even then, the Fed only raised it by a small amount, going up a quarter point in December 2015. Last December, they notched it up another quarter point, and just last week it went yet another quarter to its current level of 1.0 percent.
That’s still historically low, but if the economy continues to improve, the Fed is planning up to three more increases in 2017. The result will be higher mortgage rates by year’s end. We expect that the rate on a 30-year, fixed rate loan could go up to something between 4.75 percent and 5 percent. But homebuyers shouldn’t get in a panic. Even at 4.75 percent or 5 percent, mortgage rates are still low. Before Wall Street hit the skids in 2008, rates were 6 percent to 6.5 percent. Plus, on the average priced house in this area ($350,000), the monthly cost of financing that amount only goes up about a hundred bucks if rates rise from 4.25 percent to 4.75 percent. For most people that won’t break the bank.
•3.8 months of supply: This is how long it would take to sell all the homes now on the market at the current rate of sale. Months of supply, or what is sometimes called inventory, has been a problem for quite some time now, with the year-over-year change in inventory falling for the past 20 consecutive months. In a balanced market, there should be five-and-a-half to six months of supply. Numbers below that create a shortage of homes for sale. The great recession is largely to blame. The sluggish economy and sharp decline in home prices made it impossible for many to move. Either they were upside down on their mortgage, or a lack of income and depleted savings made moving up or just moving out impossible. A large number of people who might otherwise have moved just decided to stay put.
As the spring market starts to bloom, we’ll see if inventory will remain tight, or if an improving economy inspires a better crop of sellers. Right now, it’s too soon to tell.
Bob and Donna McWilliams are practicing real estate agents and can be reached at 443-994-9589 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
ALBANY, N.Y. The limited inventory of homes for sale continued to be a challenge for the Capital Region housing market in February.
Although new listings increased by 8 percent from February 2016, the number of homes for sale across the region dropped by 19 percent, to 5,061, over that same period, according to the latest monthly report from the Greater Capital Association of Realtors. As a result, homes are spending less time on the market — an average of 78 days in February, as opposed to 84 days in February 2016 and 100 days in February 2015 — and sellers are getting a larger percentage of their original list price — 93.9 percent, compared to 92.1 percent in February 2016.
“Realtors are reporting stronger foot traffic from a year ago, but low supply in the affordable price range continues to be the pest that’s pushing up price growth and pressuring the budgets of prospective buyers,” Lawrence Yun, chief economnist for the National Association of Realtors, observed in a news release from the local group. “Newly listed properties are being snatched up quickly so far this year and leaving behind minimal choices for buyers trying to reach the market.”
Despite the shortage of available homes, pending sales across the Capital Region increased 8 percent year over year, to 860 in February, signaling the continuation of a healthy market in the first quarter of 2017. That trend was not seen locally, however, as the number of pending sales in Albany and Rensselaer counties in February was down nearly 6 percent from the previous February, at 306, and the number of new listings climbed from 426 to 448 over the same period.
That shortage may be having an affect on sale prices, however, with the median price for a single-family home in the region up 4 percent from February 2016 at $189,740. That number dropped by 9 percent in Rensselaer County over the same period, however, though it was up by 1 percent across the river in Albany County.
“Sellers are getting a generous number of offers in this market,” said Joel Koval, president of the local Realtors group. “The worry for sellers then becomes that there will not be a generous number of homes to choose from when they become buyers.”
Charles Allen Mason is the business reporter for the Daily News. He is originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He is a 1977 graduate of West Virginia University in Morgantown. In his spare time he enjoys reading, music, sports and cooking.
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BENGALURU: The House that you looked at today and wanted to think about buying till tomorrow, is the same house someone may have looked at yesterday and will buy today. As Franklin Roosevelt said, “Real Estate cannot be lost or stolen, nor can it be carried away. Purchased with common sense, paid for in full and managed with reasonable care, it is about the safest investment in the world”.
Fortunately, CREA (I), Confederation of Real Estate Associates (India) is helping Bangalore citizens and Indians across the globe, day in and day out in Buying the right house, office space or land TODAY with plethora of knowledge and domain expertise.
What better way to salute the people, the illustrious members of CREA (I) who cover every square foot of land that exists in Bengaluru, than celebrating the “World Realtor’s Day”.
NAR, National association of Realtors, USA, the parent body along with NAR-India and all its associations celebrated the World Realtor’s Day with élan on 21st March 2017. On this grandiose occasion, the Movers and Shakers at CREA (I) have set up an ambitious dream to align the various Industry sectors in Bangalore and India and contribute to Nation building Process.
Infrastructure sector is all about creating assets for the Country. It creates the form of a city and enables the life of the city. Infrastructure is even more important than the Architecture. The Trains, Metros, Buses, Public Transport systems, Parking hubs, Communication links besides the Commercial Hubs, Schools and educational institutions, Parks, Lakes, the Green spaces, Roads, Highways all constitute the Infrastructure which is vital to growth of any city, state or country.
Infrastructure is managed both at Centre and State level by the Governments and specific ministries. Infrastructure has a huge allocation of funds and focus but sometimes lacks the inputs from the ground level for a direction.
Affordable Housing sector which has also been given the status of Infrastructure Industry in recent budget is all about providing and fulfilling the dream of Housing for all by 2022. A roof on the head of every Indian now seems a reality soon. Affordable housing brings stability, economic diversity and improves the physical quality of the neighborhood.
CREDAI is the Confederation of Real Estate Developers’ Associations of India, an Apex body with over 11500 Real Estate Developers from 162 cities across the country and they define the skylines of all cities and towns in India.
RERA – is the Real Estate Regulation Authority that will come into effect in each state in India from May 1st, 2017 with the implementation of Real Estate Regulation Act (RERA) and it will have Public and Private representation on the Core Committee of RERA.
NAR-India is the National Association of Realtors, the association of all Real Estate Associations of Realtors across various cities in India. The membership today exceeds 20000 members across 40 cities in India.
CREA (I) – Confederation of Real Estate Associates (India), Bengaluru has taken upon itself to align the mission of Govt. of India with State Govt. bodies and Ministry of Town Planning, Urban Ministry, Infrastructure Ministry and the execution bodies like BDA, BBMP, BMRDA etc. in Bengaluru to streamline the inputs for Infrastructure growth and to provide ground level expertise. Being a part of the Governing Board of NAR-India, CREA (I) further intends to emulate the model Nationwide in each state with the help and reach of NAR-India associates and CREDAI to achieve the same results across the country. The Realtor is surely finding his place under the sun and it surely is a matter of pride and honor to be a part of Nation building exercise.
PPP models, Public-Private-Partnership has already been an identified model for Infrastructure building but Public Private participation is an extended belief that should help not just Namma Bengaluru but every urban center in India and 20000 Realtors and 1200 Developers across the country will be happy to contribute to Bharat Nirman. The day is not far when Real Estate, the second largest employer in the country will be accorded an Industry status of its own.
On World Realtors Day, I would ask all Home/Office Buyers and Investors to congratulate the CREA (I) member who works tirelessly to help you Buy, Sell or Rent your properties. Remember, the best journey takes you Home and you, the Home Buyer is a part of Realtors journey. Home is after all not just a place, it is a Feeling. Congratulations to all CREA (I) members, members of NAR-India and all Realtors worldwide with Best wishes for a “Happy Realtors’ Day”. Dream on because Dreams become Reality in Realty.
(The author of this article is the founder of Huts Global and the Spokesperson and General Secretary of CREA (I). Write to him at email@example.com)
SAN DIEGO (KGTV) – The cost of homeownership is San Diego is nothing new. But the sticker shock of the salary necessary to afford to live in America’s Finest City is sure to leave residents speechless.
San Diego recently ranked second among cities requiring the highest salaries needed to afford a home, according to mortgage website HSH.com. Locally, residents need to earn $113,530.43 a year, based on the medium home price of $593,000.
The salary comes in at at least twice the amount of the report’s national average of $51,962.53 a year.
San Francisco ranked first at $160,589.84 and Los Angeles placed third with $98,315.22, around San Diego. New York and Boston rounded out the top five metropolitan areas. The report is based on the country’s 27 largest metros.
“We used standard 28-percent ‘front-end’ debt ratios and a 20-percent down payment subtracted from the NAR’s [National Association of Realtors] median-home-price data to arrive at our figures,” the report stated. “We’ve incorporated available information on property taxes and homeowner’s insurance costs to more accurately reflect the income needed in a given market.”
The study noted that if a homeowner puts down 10 percent instead of 20 percent, the required annual salary jumps from $113,530.43 to $137,056.40.
San Diego’s ranking is also based on a monthly payment of $2,649.04.
“Irrespective of quarterly wobbles, thin levels of unsold inventory continue to press home prices higher. The [NAR] reported tightening supplies of unsold homes during the last three months of the year, with 4.6, 3.9 and 3.6 months of stock available to buy October, November, and December, respectively,” the report said.
Check out HSH’s map of some of the highest and lowest metros:
The cheapest metropolitan areas Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh, where a yearly salary of $32,373.50 is required to afford a home.
“The prospect of higher mortgage rates and more home shoppers in coming months should be enough of an incentive for those serious about buying to start their search now,” NAR President William E. Brown, who is also a California realtor, said.
I’d like to share with you an extremely annoying – and illegal – consumer experience I recently encountered. The morning after removing a real estate listing from the MLS (Multiple Listing Service), both my home and mobile phones began ringing off the hook. Within a 48-hour period, I had received 40 phone calls from Realtors who all wanted to help me sell my property. These unsolicited telemarketing calls came as a shock, as both of my numbers have been listed on the FTC’s National Do Not Call Registry for 14 years.
What was going on? I decided to ask some of the soliciting Realtors. In response to, “How did you get my number?” I was provided two answers: Landvoice and Vulcan 7. Both of these companies market themselves as real estate lead-generators that can quickly provide agents with expired-listing and for-sale-by-owner phone numbers. The problem is either Landvoice and Vulcan 7 are not adequately scrubbing their lists against the National DNC Registry, or the subscribing real estate agents are disregarding the DNC-notated numbers.
When I pointed out to the Realtors that my numbers were on the Do Not Call Registry, the reply was there must have been some mistake, or something must have slipped through the cracks, or they were really sorry about calling.
I decided to email Landvoice and Vulcan 7 to inquire about the sources of their leads and ask if their lists are matched against DNC.
Said Vulcan 7: “We pull from many, many, many public sources. Each phone number [on the Realtor list] that is on the National DNC is marked so the person receiving the lead is informed.” A sample DNC-marked number was provided by Vulcan 7, showing this is indicated via asterisk.
Landvoice said: “We check each number against the Do Not Call Registry. If a number is on [it] then we mark next to the number in red text (Do Not Call).”
I requested a sample from Landvoice as well, but none was provided. However, a Berkshire Hathaway broker familiar with Landvoice lists confirmed the company does identify DNC numbers.
At this point I turned to an expert on the topic of phone list generation (in industry parlance, “phone appends”): Sharon Kirkland, principal, client operations, at Naperville-based Allant Group. Kirkland’s department provides data append services, including phone appends, for customers.
Kirkland explained that all of Allant’s clients are required to subscribe to the DNC Registry and must present a subscription account number to Allant before a call list can be generated – a legal requirement for all data aggregators.
On my behalf, Kirkland also checked with Allant’s compliance group to see if an “established business relationship” (EBR) exemption could be claimed by the Realtors calling my numbers. She reported the only way such an exemption could be claimed was if I had inquired of the Realtors within the past three months, or purchased from them within the past 18. She asserted: “Agent(s) calling you were violating the law and can face fines if reported.”
The National Association of Realtors considered the implementation of the DNC Registry in 2003 important enough to post an article titled “Answers to Your National Do-Not-Call Registry Questions.”
In the primer, NAR’s legal affairs department warned Realtors: “The fine for calling someone whose name appears on the Do-Not-Call Registry is up to $11,000 per call by the federal government, $500 for a lawsuit by a state attorney general or a consumer.”
Per spokespersons at the FTC, FCC and Illinois attorney general’s office, following are the steps to take for reporting DNC violators like the Realtors:
1. Tell the telemarketers to take you off their call lists. This request must legally be honored, even if your number is not on the DNC Registry.
2. If you haven’t already, register your number with the FTC’s Do Not Call Registry, DoNotCall.gov.
3. Report unwanted telemarketing calls to the National Do Not Call Registry.
4. File a complaint with the FCC at FCC.gov.
5. If a solicitation is from a telemarketer within your state, file a complaint with your state’s attorney general. In Illinois: IllinoisAttorneyGeneral.gov.
If enough consumers take the time to report these agents, legal action becomes much more likely. But unreported, unethical Realtors will continue to balance risk with reward and call every number on their lists – including the DNCs.
Send your questions, complaints, injustices and column ideas to HelpSquad@pioneerlocal.com.
Cathy Cunningham is a freelance columnist for Pioneer Press.
((Public relations firm corrects Blefari’s title to chief executive officer from president in paragraph 4 in this story published on March 22))
((Public relations firm corrects Blefari’s title to chief executive officer from president in paragraph 4 in this story published on March 22))
By Lucia Mutikani
WASHINGTON U.S. home resales fell more than expected in February amid a persistent shortage of houses on the market that is pushing up prices and sidelining prospective buyers.
The National Association of Realtors said on Wednesday existing home sales declined 3.7 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.48 million units last month after hitting a 10-year high in January.
Sales were up 5.4 percent from February 2016, underscoring the sustainability of the housing market recovery despite the supply constraints. The median house price surged 7.7 percent from a year ago to $228,400 in February. That marked the 60th consecutive month of year-on-year price gains.
“There is a small supply of homes for sale and great demand for them, and that’s driving prices higher in many markets. We believe the strong appetite for homes will continue, people just need more homes to choose from,” said Gino Blefari, chief executive officer at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices in Orange County, California.
Economists had forecast sales decreasing 2.0 percent last month. In February, houses typically stayed on the market for 45 days, down from 59 days a year ago. Despite February’s sales drop, the housing market was on track to again contribute to economic growth in the first quarter through increases in homebuilding and broker commissions.
U.S. financial markets were little moved by the data as investors focused instead on potential delays to President Donald Trump’s economic agenda, including his pledge to cut taxes.
The PHLX housing index fell 0.5 percent. U.S. stock indexes were mostly weaker while prices for U.S. government bonds rose. The dollar fell against a basket of currencies.
Economists said there were few signs sales had been significantly affected by rising mortgage rates. Although annual wage growth has stubbornly remained below 3 percent, economists expect an acceleration as the job market, which is near full employment, tightens further.
The 30-year fixed mortgage rate is hovering at 4.30 percent.
The Federal Reserve last week raised its benchmark overnight interest rate by 25 basis points to a range of 0.75 percent to 1.00 percent. The U.S. central bank has forecast two more rate hikes for 2017.
LAND, LABOR SHORTAGES
A separate report from the Mortgage Bankers Association onWednesday showed applications for loans to purchase homes fell 2.7 percent last week from near a four-month peak.
“Despite supply constraints, we see a resilient labor market and solid real income gains as likely to support a decent pace of home sales ahead, although given the backup in rates we may experience some pullback in the near term,” said Kevin Cummins, a senior economist at Natwest Markets in Stamford, Connecticut.
Last month, sales fell in the Northeast, West and Midwest regions, but rose in the South. Though the number of homes on the market increased 4.2 percent to 1.75 million units last month, housing inventory remained near the all-time low of 1.65 million units hit in December. Supply was down 6.4 percent from a year ago.
Housing inventory has dropped for 21 straight months on a year-on-year basis. Builders have been unable to fill the inventory gap, citing rising prices for materials, higher borrowing costs, and shortages of lots and labor.
Lennar Corp, the second-largest U.S. homebuilder, reported on Tuesday a drop in quarterly gross margin as the company struggled with higher land and construction costs.
Lennar, however, sold 5,453 homes in the first quarter ended Feb. 28, up from 4,832 homes in the year-earlier period, and reported a 12 percent jump in orders.
The NAR estimates housing starts and completions should be in a range of 1.5 million to 1.6 million units to alleviate the chronic shortage. Housing starts are running above a rate of 1.2 million units and completions around a pace of 1 million units.
At February’s sales pace, it would take 3.8 months to clear the stock of houses on the market, up from 3.5 months in January. A six-month supply is viewed as a healthy balance between supply and demand. While higher prices are increasing equity for homeowners and might encourage some to put their homes on the market, they could be hurting first-time buyers, who accounted for 32 percent of transactions last month.
That was well below the 40 percent share that economists and realtors say is needed for a robust housing market but up from 30 percent a year ago.
(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Paul Simao)