CoreLogic’s National Foreclosure Report provides monthly data on completed foreclosures, foreclosure inventory, and delinquencies over 90 days. In their February report, CoreLogic found that there are 1.4 million homes in the foreclosure inventory, which is down from 1.5 million in February 2011. But though foreclosure inventory and the pace of completed foreclosures held fairly steady from January, expectations of further declines in the foreclosure inventory are leading to optimism for the housing market’s immediate future. Mark Fleming, CoreLogic’s chief economist, said the pace of completed foreclosures compares favorably to year-ago levels and the overall foreclosure inventory is decreasing because REO sales were up in February. Also in the report, the five states with the highest number of completed foreclosures accounted for nearly half of all completed foreclosures nationally. More here.
A number of factors have experts and industry insiders expecting a strong spring-selling season this year. Nearly half of all home sales happen during the months of April, May, June, and July and this year, with the economy and job market showing signs of growth, the sales season is expected to be better than it has been in years. Among the main reason spring and summer are good for home sales is weather. And, this year, mild weather has enveloped much of the country earlier than usual. For instance, the Midwest, which saw warmer than usual weather so far this year, saw a 6.5 percent increase in signed contracts in February and a 19 percent jump year-over-year. Among the other factors playing a role in the optimistic outlook, inventory has been clearing from the market and is now at a five-year low, which means less competition for sellers. Also, foreclosures, which were tied up by paperwork and procedure problems, are increasingly hitting the market and, as they’re sold, will release downward pressure on prices. All of these factors, combined with historically low rates and high affordability, should mean a stronger-than-usual spring for the housing market. More here.
According to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Weekly Applications Survey, demand for home purchase loans increased again last week. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index was up 3.3 percent from the week before and is up 2.14 percent over the past four weeks. But the growing volume of purchase loans comes at the same time as refinance activity has slowed. The Refinance Index fell last week due largely to a 12.0 percent drop in government refinance activity. Conventional refinance applications also slipped, though by just 3.4 percent. The Market Composite Index, which measures total mortgage loan application volume, was down 2.7 percent from the week before. The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages increased to 4.23 percent from 4.19 percent the previous week. More here.
The National Association of Realtors’ Confidence Index is based on a monthly survey sent out to 50,000 real-estate professionals assessing expectations for home sales, prices, and the overall market. February’s report finds confidence and expectations on the rise amid continued evidence of a slow and steady market recovery. Though responses didn’t indicate rapid market growth, participants reported an increasing number of buyers in the market, rising rent, and expectations of higher or, at least, constant home prices. The percentage of professionals indicating they expect prices to rise increased from 62 percent in December to 73 percent in the most recent report. Also, the amount of time homes for sale stay on the market continues to decrease and rental prices continue to rise, both positive signs for the housing market. More here.
According to the National Association of Realtors’ Pending Home Sales Index, contract signings were relatively flat in February, down 0.5 percent from January. But despite a slow month, pending home sales were 9.2 percent above February 2011. Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, said the spring home buying season looks bright due to elevated contract offers so far this year. According to Yun, if the level of current activity is sustained throughout the year, existing-home sales would reach their highest level in nearly five years. Regionally, the Midwest spiked 6.5 percent and is up nearly 20 percent over last year, though all other regions suffered decreases. Pending home sales are a forward-looking indicator that reflect contract signings but not closings. More here.