RealtyTrac’s Q3 2012 Metropolitan Foreclosure Market Report tracks foreclosure activity in cities with populations of 200,000 or more. In the third quarter of this year, foreclosure activity fell from a year ago in 131 of the 212 metropolitan areas included in the report. Daren Blomquist, vice president of RealtyTrac, said two-thirds of the nation’s largest metros posted decreases in foreclosure activity in the third quarter, indicating that most of the nation’s housing markets are past the worst of the foreclosure problem. Foreclosure activity fell from the previous quarter in 63 percent of included metros. More here.
Freddie Mac’s recently released Economic and Housing Market Outlook for October shows housing contributed 0.3 percentage points to GDP growth in the first half of 2012 after being a net drag from 2006 through 2010. The housing sector is also expected to contribute to growth during the second half of the year. Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac’s vice president and chief economist, said the recovery has been unlike any other over the past 65 years but we are now seeing housing resume its traditional role of leading the charge. Also in the report, Freddie Mac projects 7 million borrowers will refinance their loans in 2012, resulting in $15 billion in mortgage-payment savings over the first year. That savings will help further boost the economy by strengthening homeowners’ financial situations and overall consumer confidence. More here.
The National Association of Realtor’s Pending Home Sales Index measures contract signings and is an indicator of future existing-home sales. In September, the index was up 0.3 percent over August and 14.5 percent above last year’s level. It was the 17th consecutive month of year-over-year improvement. Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, said home contract activity remains at an elevated level when compared to recent years and should continue its upward trend in 2013. Pending home sales were up in every region of the country and are showing double-digit increases over last year in the Northeast, South, and Midwest. According to the NAR, existing-home sales should close 2012 at 4.6 million, which is an increase of 9.0 percent over 2011. More here and here.
In September, new home sales reached their highest level since April 2010, when they were boosted by the homebuyer tax credit. According to estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, sales of new single-family homes were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 389,000, which is up 5.7 percent from August and 27.1 percent from last year’s estimate of 306,000. The median sales price of new houses sold in September was $242,400; the average price was $292,400. Median price is now 11.7 percent above year before levels. At the current sales pace, there was a 4.5-month supply of new homes for sale at the end of the month. More here and here.
According to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Weekly Applications Survey, mortgage application demand slowed last week, though the results may reflect the previous week’s upward adjustment for the Columbus Day holiday. The Market Composite Index, which measures total mortgage application volume, fell 12.0 percent, due to a 13.0 percent drop in the Refinance Index and an 8.0 percent slide in purchase activity. The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances increased to 3.63 percent from 3.57 percent the week before. Despite the decline in demand, the refinance share of total mortgage activity was 81 percent and purchase loan demand was 7.0 percent higher than the same week one year ago. More here.