Every month, Trulia’s Housing Barometer measures the real-estate recovery based on construction data from the U.S. Census Bureau, existing-home sales numbers from the National Association of Realtors, and foreclosure statistics from LPS First Look. The barometer compares current data to where it was at its bottom and at its pre-bubble normal to determine how much progress has been made toward recovery. According to June’s report, the housing market is 32 percent back to normal, which is a 10 percent improvement over last year but down from May. The month-over-month drop was due largely to a decline in existing-home sales. Available for-sale inventory has tightened in many housing markets across the country, which contributed to slower sales during the month. But, though falling inventory slowed sales, it is also an indicator that the market is recovering. Construction of new homes was up 7.0 percent from the previous month and 24 percent from the year before. Also, the foreclosure rate is 34 percent back to normal, after a slight increase in the number of mortgages that were either delinquent or in foreclosure. More here.
According to the National Association of Realtors, pending home sales were down 1.4 percent in June but remain 9.5 percent above last year’s levels. The Pending Home Sales Index came in at 99.3 in June, down from 100.7 in May. Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, said buyer demand is strong but fewer available homes in the lower price ranges popular with first-time buyers and investors have lead to fewer contract signing opportunities. Pending home sales reflect contract signings but not closings. Regionally, pending sales were down in the Northeast, Midwest, and South but climbed 2.6 percent in the West. According to Yun, there have been delays in the closing process due to a surge in refinancing and a higher level of home purchases. More here and here.
Estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development show sales of new single-family houses were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 350,000 in June, which is 15.1 percent above last year’s rate of 304,000. But, despite the year-over-year gains, June sales were 8.4 percent below an upwardly revised May rate of 382,000. So far this year, new home sales have been higher than expected and most monthly estimates have been revised upward after their initial release. The median sales price of new homes sold in June was $232,600; the average sales price was $273,900. Also, the seasonally adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of the month was 144,000, which represents a 4.9-month supply at the current sales rate. More here and here.
According to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Weekly Applications Survey, refinance activity rose 2.0 percent last week, reaching its highest level since April 19, 2009. The increase followed a 22 percent surge the week before and pushed the refinance share of total mortgage activity up to 81 percent. But, despite the gains in refinance demand, the Market Composite Index, which measures total mortgage loan application volume, was up just 0.9 percent due to a 3.0 percent drop in the seasonally adjusted Purchase Index. The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances was unchanged, resting at 3.74 percent. It is the second consecutive week that average mortgage rates were at all-time survey lows. More here and here.
A recent Gallup poll found that Americans are more optimistic when asked about their local economy than they are when asked to assess the economic condition of the world as a whole. Nearly 50 percent of polled Americans said their local economic conditions were excellent or good, while only 25 percent said the same about the national economy and just 13 percent ranked the world’s economy as highly. The poll found that positive feelings toward local economic conditions didn’t differ significantly from region to region, though the western states were the most pessimistic about their economy. The results highlight the fact that, though economic confidence can be volatile, Americans generally rank their region and personal financial situation higher than they do the national economy. More here.