First-time buyers slipping as share of home sales: real estate roundup

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US home sales drop 5.4 pct., fewest since October

WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans bought fewer homes in June than May, indicating the weak economy could make a modest housing recovery choppy.

The National Association of Realtors said Thursday that sales of previously occupied homes fell 5.4 percent in June to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.37 million homes. That’s the fewest since October.

Sales are up 4.5 percent from a year ago, evidence that the market is still recovering. But the annual sales pace is below the 6 million that economists consider healthy.

The June drop in completed re-sales contrasts with more encouraging data that show gains in new residential construction, higher builder confidence and more signed contracts to buy previously owned homes.

“It is only one month and the rest of the housing indicators have all continued to show improvement,” said Jennifer Lee, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets. “Let’s hope this June decline is a blip.”

The number of first-time buyers, critical to a housing recovery, made up just 32 percent of sales. That’s down from 34 percent in May. In healthy markets, first-time buyers make up more than 40 percent of the market.

The median home price rose 5 percent to $189,400. That’s mostly because sales of more expensive homes rose, while sales of cheaper homes fell, the Realtors group said.

Prices are also rising because there are fewer homes for sale. The inventory of unsold homes fell to 2.39 million. It would take six and a half months to exhaust the supply at the current sales pace. That’s just above the six months that economists consider healthy.

Other recent reports have indicated that the housing market is slowly recovering, even as the broader economy struggles.

Builders broke ground last month on the most new homes and apartments in four years. And the number of new single-family homes, the bulk of the market, rose for the fourth straight month to the highest level since March 2010.

A report from the Federal Reserve Wednesday found that home sales improved in all 12 of the bank’s districts in June and early July.

More Americans are showing interest in buying homes, boosting builder confidence. The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment index jumped to 35 this month, its highest level in five years. Builders said they are seeing more traffic from prospective customers.

Still, the index remains below 50, the level that indicates builder sentiment is in positive territory. It hasn’t reached that level since April 2006, the height of the housing bubble.

There are also fewer homes for sale, which is spurring more home building and raising the prices of those that are on the market.

The housing market is also being supported by record-low mortgage rates. The average rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage fell this week to 3.53 percent, the lowest since long-term mortgages began in the 1950s.

But even with the low rates, many would-be buyers are having difficulty qualifying for home loans or can’t afford the larger down payments being required by banks.

And the job market has weakened considerably in recent months, threatening the recovery in housing. Employers added just 80,000 jobs in June. Job gains averaged only 75,000 in the April-June quarter, after averaging 226,000 in the first three months of the year. The unemployment rate is stuck at 8.2 percent.

Without more job growth, consumers may feel less secure about their financial futures and delay purchasing a new home.

Realtors’ Association New Mexico conference set for Marriott Uptown

Clarke

Clarke








Steve Ginsberg
Reporter- New Mexico Business Weekly

Email

Several hundred realtors from around the state will come to Albuquerque for the Realtors’ Association of New Mexico annual fall conference Sept. 12-14.

The event will be held at the Marriott in Uptown.

The opening keynote speaker is Leigh Brown, a top-producing Realtor from Charlotte, N.C.

Richard Flint, an author of 15 motivational books and a college philosophy professor, will address the group.

Homegrown speakers will include Todd Clarke, a multifamily specialist and New Mexico Real Estate Commission-approved instructor.

Ashley Strauss-Martin, the general counsel for RANM, will speak about legal issues.

Dan Elzer, president of the National Association of Realtors Training Academy in Florida, will be the closing keynote speaker.

Commercial, Retail and Residential Real Estate



Quebec Federation of Real Estate Boards plans to separate from Canadian Real Estate Association

A provincial body representing Quebec’s real estate boards says it will separate from its Canadian affiliate, effective 2013 – and there doesn’t appear to be any plan for negotiations.

On Thursday, the Quebec Federation of Real Estate Boards told brokers it would be ending its membership with the Canadian Real Estate Association as of Dec. 31.

The decision to leave CREA, Canada’s largest group representing organized real estate, follows a revolt initiated last year by several member boards in Quebec that said they were fed up with paying for services they don’t need. At the time, the Greater Montreal Real Estate board, the second-largest board in Canada with 10,000 members, said it would consider leaving CREA if the association didn’t cut expenses, and embrace the very same “fee-for-service� model now available to Canadian homeowners.

In an email to brokers, the Quebec federation said Thursday it could no longer respect the national association’s bylaws after one of its members, a small real estate board from Granby, decided to opt out of CREA. To maintain its provincial membership in CREA, all members of the Quebec federation would have to be part of the national association, which was no longer the case.

“After taking into consideration all of the relevant issues in this case, the governors of the QFREB have decided to maintain a provincial association that includes all the province’s real estate boards,� the federation said in the email, obtained by The Gazette.

Each member board, including Greater Montreal, will have to choose on an individual basis whether to stay or leave CREA.

Representatives of CREA and the Quebec Federation of Real Estate Boards couldn’t be reached for comment on Thursday. Neither could a representative of the Montreal board.

CREA, which was embroiled in a highly publicized fight and settlement with the Federal Competition Bureau in 2010, angered the Montreal board last year for hiking member fees.

According to the Montreal board, CREA’s national membership dues are to rise 41 per cent from 2010 to 2013, from $220 to $310.

CREA dues are used to defray the costs of services such as government relations, publicity, meetings and technological tool, including the realtor.ca website.

The average Montreal-area broker will pay more than $2,000 this year to his or her industry associations, including CREA – a burden that’s becoming harder to bear as members see their commissions watered down by competition from For Sale By Owner sites and discount agencies where brokers are willing to be paid less for offering limited real estate services.

alampert@montrealgazette.com

Twitter: @RealDealMtl

InvestorPlace.com Highlights Most Affordable and Expensive Housing Markets in the U.S.

InvestorPlace.com editor Jeff Reeves breaks down the cheapest, most expensive and most volatile housing markets in the country, complete with year-over-year price change and median price statistics for each market.

Rockville, Md. (PRWEB) July 30, 2012

Using data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) through the first quarter of 2012, InvestorPlace.com editor Jeff Reeves has put statistics about housing growth into perspective for homeowners and interested investors with a recent article that breaks down the most affordable and most expensive metropolitan housing markets. The list also includes the markets that saw the biggest and smallest price gains, complete with year-over-year price changes and median price statistics for each market.

“Growth is important,” Reeves said, “but the context about whether home prices are rising from $50,000 or $350,000 is certainly worth noting. Equally important is the stability of housing markets as measured by the median listing price. Since all real estate decisions are local, it’s important to understand just what each local market will bear.”

According to NAR data, the Detroit-Warren-Livonia, Mich., area is the cheapest housing market in America. The median home price is a mere $53,100, down 2.8% from a year ago. With a median home price of $602,300, Honolulu is the most expensive housing market. And it shows little risk of cooling off, as prices were up 6.5% compared with the same time in 2011.

“When it comes to a housing rebound, obviously the markets at the top aren’t likely to see the biggest gains even if they are the most stable,” Reeves explained. “That’s why the NAR’s list of largest median price gains is concentrated in the hard-hit state of Florida.”

Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Fla., is on the top of the list with a 28.1% gain from Q1 2011 to Q2 2012. This is in line with year-over-year housing data from Clear Capital that puts the Miami metro area near the top of the list of fastest-growing housing markets for June (by listing price). The median price for the region was $117,600.

The biggest housing drops during the financial crisis and mortgage meltdown are well documented. Regions like Las Vegas and Florida that built up in a frenzy saw their home prices collapse just as fast in 2009 and 2010.

“But now that the dust has mostly settled, if you explore the metro areas losing ground the fastest, you’ll see a strange list of cities stuck in very different locations,” notes Reeves. “For example, Kingston, N.Y., has shed 22% in the last year. It’s not one of those Long Island enclaves though. Kingston is about halfway between Albany and New York City. Maybe the pain in state government coupled with the pain in New York’s financial sector has resulted in less need for an ultra-long commute.”

See the complete breakdown of U.S. housing markets at: http://www.investorplace.com/2012/07/5-most-affordable-5-most-expensive-housing-markets-in-the-u-s/2/.

About InvestorPlace.com

InvestorPlace.com is a leading financial news and investing site, providing millions of individual investors with access to free stock picks, mutual fund research, market news and sharp, actionable commentary. InvestorPlace Media is privately owned by Avista Capital Partners, with offices in Rockville, Md., just outside Washington, D.C.

Jeff Reeves
InvestorPlace.com
301-250-2258
Email Information

Realtors are encouraged by the rise in housing production

Realtors welcomed recent news of a nationwide increase in housing production and rise in builder confidence. These are additional indicators that the market is improving, according to the Silicon Valley Association of Realtors.

The National Association of Home Builders said recently released data showed nationwide housing production rose by 6.9 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 760,000 units in June, the fastest pace of new-home construction since October 2008.

The report follows the latest builder confidence survey that shows builder confidence in the market for newly built, single-family homes was up six points, the largest one-month gain recorded by the builder index in nearly a decade, and the highest point since March 2007.

Findings in both reports show builders and consumers are encouraged by current market conditions as prices and interest rates continue to be favorable, said Suzanne Yost, president of the local association.

“The news from builders is further proof that the market is starting to turn the corner, not just in our region but in other parts of the country as well. Housing is a major pillar of our economy and a good indicator that the economy is seeing some improvement,” said Yost.

The monthly NAHB builder confidence survey is based on the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index, which gauges builder perceptions of current single-family home sales, sales expectations for the

next six months and traffic of prospective buyers. Every HMI component recorded gains in July. Components gauging current sales conditions and traffic of prospective buyers each rose six points, to 37 and 29, respectively. Sales expectations for the next six months rose 11 points to 44.

Every region posted HMI gains in July. The Northeast registered an eight-point gain to 36, while the Midwest gained three points to 34, the South gained five points to 32 and the West gained 12 points to 44.

Additionally, NAHB reports single-family housing starts also rose for a fourth consecutive month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 539,000 units in June, their fastest pace since April of 2010. Keeping with the solid pace of demand for rental units, multifamily starts rose 12.8 percent to 221,000 units.

Regionally, combined single- and multi-family housing starts rose 22.2 percent in the Northeast and 36.9 percent in the West, but fell back 7.3 percent in the Midwest and 4.2 percent in the South in June. NAHB attributes the declines to monthly volatility on the multifamily side, as single-family starts posted gains across every region in June.

“While many challenges continue to weigh down the housing recovery–including those related to builders’ and buyers’ access to credit, poor appraisals and the number of distressed properties in certain markets–production of single-family homes is now the strongest it has been since 2010 due to rising consumer demand brought on by improving market conditions,” said NAHB chief economist David Crowe.

Americans are seeing more stability in the real estate market, according to Yost. “Prices are affordable and mortgage rates are still at record lows. Today’s consumers realize the many advantages to homeownership. Owning a home is part of the American Dream that provides stability and economic and social benefits,” said Yost.

Information in this column is presented by the Silicon Valley Association of Realtors at www.silvar.org. Send questions to rmeily@silvar.org.

Realtors’ Association New Mexico conference set for Marriott Uptown

Clarke

Clarke








Steve Ginsberg
Reporter- New Mexico Business Weekly

Email

Several hundred realtors from around the state will come to Albuquerque for the Realtors’ Association of New Mexico annual fall conference Sept. 12-14.

The event will be held at the Marriott in Uptown.

The opening keynote speaker is Leigh Brown, a top-producing Realtor from Charlotte, N.C.

Richard Flint, an author of 15 motivational books and a college philosophy professor, will address the group.

Homegrown speakers will include Todd Clarke, a multifamily specialist and New Mexico Real Estate Commission-approved instructor.

Ashley Strauss-Martin, the general counsel for RANM, will speak about legal issues.

Dan Elzer, president of the National Association of Realtors Training Academy in Florida, will be the closing keynote speaker.

Commercial, Retail and Residential Real Estate



Realtors support national 'Fast Help' bill

The Silicon Valley Association of Realtors joins its counterparts at the state and national level in supporting the passage of the Fast Help For Homeowners Act.

The proposed legislation, introduced by U.S. Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-Stockton), would help speed up the short sale approval process by requiring subordinate lien holders to respond to short sale requests within 45 days.

The short sale bill would establish guidelines requiring the primary lien holder to inform secondary and any subsequent lien holders of a request for short sale. The bill would also impose a 45-day deadline for subsequent lien holders to respond to both the primary lender and the consumer following a short sale request.

“We support any effort toward improving and speeding up the short sale process for distressed homeowners who are seeking an alternative to foreclosure,” said Suzanne Yost, president of the Silicon Valley Association of Realtors.

Both the National Association of Realtors and California Association of Realtors have come out in support of the proposed bill. According to the trade associations, members continue to report that short sale transactions are being held up by a lack of response to short sale requests.

Early findings from a recent lender satisfaction survey conducted by the CAR found that nearly half of all properties sold as short sales in California had subordinate liens. Additionally, communicating with the holders of the subordinate

liens often created obstacles to closing these transactions.

“Short sale transactions are difficult as is. When subordinate lien holders refuse to respond to offers, additional unnecessary barriers to homeownership are created. The FHFH Act will eliminate this major hurdle,” said LeFrancis Arnold, president of the state group.

The NAR has been actively pushing the mortgage servicing industry for years to improve the short sale review and approval process, especially in cases where second liens are involved.

“Second mortgage lien holders frequently hold up and cancel the short sale transaction while trying to collect the largest possible payout in exchange for releasing the homeowner’s lien, even though the secondary lien holder often gets nothing if the home ends up going into foreclosure,” said Moe Veissi, president of the NAR.

Realtors contend that streamlining the short sale approval process for both primary and secondary lien holders will help close more short sale transactions. They are urging the swift passage of the Fast Help for Homeowners Act. “We continue to support thoughtful reform that will improve the short sale process for homeowners,” said Yost.

Information in this column is presented by the Silicon Valley Association of Realtors at www.silvar.org. Send questions on any topic to rmeily@silvar.org.

Realtors support national ‘Fast Help’ bill

The Silicon Valley Association of Realtors joins its counterparts at the state and national level in supporting the passage of the Fast Help For Homeowners Act.

The proposed legislation, introduced by U.S. Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-Stockton), would help speed up the short sale approval process by requiring subordinate lien holders to respond to short sale requests within 45 days.

The short sale bill would establish guidelines requiring the primary lien holder to inform secondary and any subsequent lien holders of a request for short sale. The bill would also impose a 45-day deadline for subsequent lien holders to respond to both the primary lender and the consumer following a short sale request.

“We support any effort toward improving and speeding up the short sale process for distressed homeowners who are seeking an alternative to foreclosure,” said Suzanne Yost, president of the Silicon Valley Association of Realtors.

Both the National Association of Realtors and California Association of Realtors have come out in support of the proposed bill. According to the trade associations, members continue to report that short sale transactions are being held up by a lack of response to short sale requests.

Early findings from a recent lender satisfaction survey conducted by the CAR found that nearly half of all properties sold as short sales in California had subordinate liens. Additionally, communicating with the holders of the subordinate

liens often created obstacles to closing these transactions.

“Short sale transactions are difficult as is. When subordinate lien holders refuse to respond to offers, additional unnecessary barriers to homeownership are created. The FHFH Act will eliminate this major hurdle,” said LeFrancis Arnold, president of the state group.

The NAR has been actively pushing the mortgage servicing industry for years to improve the short sale review and approval process, especially in cases where second liens are involved.

“Second mortgage lien holders frequently hold up and cancel the short sale transaction while trying to collect the largest possible payout in exchange for releasing the homeowner’s lien, even though the secondary lien holder often gets nothing if the home ends up going into foreclosure,” said Moe Veissi, president of the NAR.

Realtors contend that streamlining the short sale approval process for both primary and secondary lien holders will help close more short sale transactions. They are urging the swift passage of the Fast Help for Homeowners Act. “We continue to support thoughtful reform that will improve the short sale process for homeowners,” said Yost.

Information in this column is presented by the Silicon Valley Association of Realtors at www.silvar.org. Send questions on any topic to rmeily@silvar.org.

China’s Gift to U.S. Homeowners

They are increasingly rich, hungry for the good things this country has to offer, buying high-end homes, and don’t mind paying huge amounts of cash upfront to get them without going into debt. If you don’t think this reads like a typical American story today, you’re right—these new homeowners are Chinese living in the U.S.

For a housing market just starting its recovery, foreign investment in U.S. residential real estate has been a bright spot, and there’s no sign of the trend letting up. According to data released last month by the National Association of Realtors, non-U.S. buyers accounted for $82.5 billion in residential property sales in the 12 months ended March 2012. Chinese purchasers made up 11 percent of this total, while Canadians continued to represent the largest swath at 24 percent. Perhaps even more striking is the fact that 27 percent of Realtors surveyed by the NAR reported working with international clients in the last year. Along with China and Canada, buyers from countries including Mexico, India, and the U.K. combined to make up 55 percent of purchases from abroad—mainly concentrated in Florida, Texas, Arizona, California, and New York. The fastest growth in recent years is among Chinese buyers.

The global interest is driven by several different factors, yet for the Chinese in particular, the chance to get their children into top universities is probably the largest motivation. To Chinese parents, the opportunity provides proof that their years of effort have paid off. “The Chinese work very hard—it’s part of their culture,” says Cathy Zhao, a real estate broker in Maryland who has served many wealthy Chinese clients. “For them, the most important thing is education, and with prices being very low as they are, they see a chance to get near a good school.” And once here, most international buyers want to stay, Zhao adds, because their chance of a better-paying job is still better in the U.S. than back home.

The chance to earn a prestigious degree is not the only reason Chinese buyers find the U.S. market increasingly appealing. “There is an increasing number of wealthy Chinese who are buying in the U.S. to diversify their portfolio,” says NAR economist Jed Smith, who helped compile the annual survey. “Even with the rally in recent months, homes here still look very good from an investment point of view.”

Unlike Japanese corporations in the 1980s, which bought at the top of the market in their quest for big-name commercial properties, the Chinese are more interested in good deals. With residential real estate prices still almost a third less than they were at their peak in 2007, it’s a strategy that may well pay off if job growth returns and triggers a rally in the housing market, according to Smith.

Last year the average price of a foreign-purchased U.S. home was more than $400,000, which is double the national average—so the search for good value might only extend so far. That high figure becomes even more impressive when one considers that buyers from abroad often lack credit scores and access to mortgages, and frequently opt to pay the whole price upfront. “[S]ales transactions can often be completed quickly as many Chinese purchasers prefer all-cash deals,” Pamela Liebman, president and chief executive officer of the Corcoran Group, a New York real estate firm, writes in an e-mail. Liebman also says that her company has serviced more Chinese clients this year than at any time in the past, and that their interest is not just in residential real estate but in commercial property as well. Sixty-two percent of purchases by foreign buyers last year were in cash, according to the NAR. Zhao says many of the deals are for very large homes, capable of supporting several generations under one roof, which is a preference for affluent families.

Foreign buyers still make up a small part of all U.S. sales, accounting for just 4.8 percent of the total dollar amount in the last year. While in relative terms this represents an increase, the numbers will probably not spur a nationwide real estate recovery.

“In a market the size of New York, it would take a substantial influx of any one buyer group to significantly affect market prices,” writes Liebman of Corcoran. “The number of Chinese purchasers of New York real estate has not reached the critical mass it would require to impact prices.” It’s a point echoed by Smith of the NAR. “The only thing that will really get the market back to where it was is jobs. Really it’s all about jobs in the end,” he says.

That may be true, but the pattern of recent years might allow Americans to take some solace in the fact that their country is still top of the list when it comes to places where individuals from around the world want to live and learn.