Reported by Associated Press (11/22/2011)
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Reported by Associated Press (11/22/2011)
Single-family housing starts rose 3.9 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 430,000 units in October, according to newly released data from the U.S. Commerce Department. This improvement was somewhat masked by an 8.3 percent decline in multifamily starts that kept the combined number for nationwide housing production virtually flat at 628,000 units in October.
Meanwhile, single-family permits also posted a measurable gain of 5.1 percent to 434,000 units in the latest report, which is their fastest pace since December of 2010.
“The government’s numbers for October housing production are very much in keeping with what home builders have been telling us in our recent surveys,” said Bob Nielsen, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder from Reno, Nev. “While we still have a long way to go toward a recovery, some signs of hope are emerging in certain markets where economic and job growth is occurring and where foreclosures have not been an overwhelming obstacle.”
“The three-month moving averages for both housing production and permitting activity have been gradually rising since this spring, which is consistent with our forecast for slow improvement in market conditions through the end of this year and a positive sign that a more solid recovery will begin to take hold in 2012,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “That said, the improvements we are seeing are still limited to scattered local markets where economies are improving, and obstacles such as tight credit conditions for builders and buyers, appraisal issues stemming from new homes being compared to distressed properties, and consumer concerns about job security are definitely slowing the progression of both a housing and economic recovery.”
While combined housing starts in October declined by a barely perceptible 0.3 percent to a rate of 628,000 units, the single-family sector posted a 3.9 percent gain to 430,000 units. Meanwhile, the more volatile multifamily sector posted an 8.3 percent decline to 198,000 units following an unsustainably large gain in the previous month.
Combined starts activity was up in three out of four regions in October. Gains of 17.2 percent, 9.7 percent and 1.6 percent were registered in the Northeast, Midwest and South, respectively, while the West posted a 16.5 percent decline.
Permit issuance, which can be an indicator of future building activity, rose 10.9 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 653,000 units in October on gains in both the single- and multifamily sides. Single-family housing permits rose 5.1 percent to 434,000 units – their highest level since December of 2010 – while multifamily permits rose 24.4 percent to 219,000 units – their highest level since October of 2008.
On a regional basis, combined permitting activity was down 1.6 percent in the Northeast and 3.7 percent in the Midwest, but up 21.5 percent in the South and 5.4 percent in the West.
Reported by National Association of Home Builders (11/17/11)
The housing market should see a modest recovery in 2012, with a modest rise in sales and home prices, according to a new forecast from the National Association of Realtors (NAR).
Existing-home sales are predicted to rise 4-5 percent from this year's expected total of 4.96 million, according to the NAR, with an unspecified rise in median home prices. Double-digit gains are expected for both new home sales and construction starts, though activity in those areas is still expected to remain weak by historical norms.
Pent-up demand seen
The NAR expects that underlying forces in the housing market and economy will eventually start to assert themselves, overcoming the negative factors that have held the market in check until now.
"Tight mortgage credit conditions have been holding back home buyers all year, and consumer confidence has been shaky recently," said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economists. "Nonetheless, there is a sizeable pent-up demand based on population growth, employment levels and a doubling-up phenomenon that can't continue indefinitely. This demand could quickly stimulate the market when conditions improve."
The forecast is based in part on NAR expectations that gross domestic product will increase by 2.2 percent next year, up from 1.8 percent in 2011, and that unemployment will fall to 8.7 percent, down from 9.0 percent currently, with about 2 million new jobs created.
Prices, mortgage rates expected to rise
A falling inventory in homes available for sale is expected to produce a moderate rise in home prices, according to the NAR, although prices have yet to fully stabilize in most areas.
New home sales are forecast to rise to 372,000, still low by historic standards, but up from 302,000 in 2011, which will be the lowest total in at least 60 years. New home construction is expected to rise to 630,000 units, up from 583,000 this year.
On the downside for consumers, mortgage interest rates are expected to rise to about 4.5 percent on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages, up about half a percentage point from current levels but still well below historical norms.
Reported by MortgageLoan.com (11/14/11)
Homebuilder sentiment jumped in November, according to a report from the National Association of Home Builders.
The NAHB's housing market index came in at a reading of 20 for November, bringing the index to its highest level since May 2010. Economists were expecting the index to remain unchanged from the originally reported reading of 18 in October according to Thomson One Analytics.
Still, the index remains well below 50, indicating that builders largely view the market as poor.
"While this second solid monthly gain on the builder confidence scale is encouraging, the overall measure remains quite low due to the many challenges that home building continues to face with regard to the high number of foreclosures, the difficulties of obtaining construction financing and accurate appraisals, and the restrictive lending environment that is discouraging potential buyers," said Bob Nielsen, NAHB chairman and a home builder from Reno, Nev.
Reported by The Street (11/16/11)