Home Price Index Finds Monthly, Annual Gains

Adding to a number of recent home price reports showing increasing values, CoreLogic’s April Home Price Index finds national values on the rise. Including distressed sales, prices were up 2.2 percent in April over March and, compared to April 2011, prices increased 1.1 percent. It was the second consecutive year-over-year increase and the first time back-to-back gains were recorded since June 2010. Excluding distressed sales, prices increased 2.6 percent over March and were up 1.9 percent over year-before levels. Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic, said consistent month-over-month increases are a sign that the housing market is stabilizing. According to Nallathambi, prices are responding to lower inventory levels which is an optimistic sign for the market. More here and here.

Mortgage Applications Surge To Highest Level Since 2009

According to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Weekly Applications Survey, total mortgage loan application volume surged 18.0 percent last week, reaching its highest level since May 2009. The sharp increase was due, in part, to the Memorial Day adjustment in the previous week’s results but also because of record-low mortgage rates. Michael Fratantoni, MBA’s vice president of research and economics, said refinance volume spiked as average mortgage rates fell below four percent, and purchase application volume was at its highest level in over six months. The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances increased to 3.88 percent from 3.87 percent the week before. Low rates spurred a 19 percent increase in the Refinance Index last week, while the Purchase Index gained 13 percent. More here and here.

Housing Scorecard Finds Promise in Recent Market Data

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Department of the Treasury released their May Housing Scorecard, which collects key market data and tracks the administration’s recovery efforts. According to the May scorecard, recent market data contains a number of promising indicators and increasing signs of stability. In April, sales of existing homes increased in every region of the country and the number of new homes rose for the first time since 2007. The supply of homes available for sale fell to 5.1 months, down from a high of 12.2 months in January 2009. Erika Poethig, HUD’s acting assistant secretary, said more than 180,000 borrowers took advantage of the enhanced HARP program in the last quarter and foreclosure starts are declining. Still, despite numerous positive indicators, the report cautions that the overall outlook is mixed due to distressed sales and the impact of serious delinquencies and underwater mortgages on housing’s gains. More here and here.

Americans Expect Home Price Increases, Say It's Time To Buy

Each month, Fannie Mae’s National Housing Survey polls more than 1,000 Americans to assess their attitudes toward homeownership, renting, the economy, household finances, mortgage rates, and overall consumer confidence. In May, the survey found Americans hopeful about the housing market and national economy, though somewhat pessimistic about their personal finances. According to the results, 72 percent of respondents say now is a good time to buy a home and 34 percent believe home prices will rise over the next 12 months. Americans expect prices to rise by 1.4 percent, which is the highest value yet recorded. The percentage of participants who said the economy is on the right track also hit an all-time high in May, reaching 38 percent. But despite continued positivity in consumer attitudes toward broader economic conditions, nearly half of respondents said they believe their personal financial situation will remain the same over the next 12 months and 32 percent said their expenses have increased significantly over the past year. More here and here.

Foreclosure Account For 26 Percent Of First Quarter Sales

According to RealtyTrac’s Q1 2012 U.S. Foreclosure Sales Report, homes in some stage of foreclosure accounted for 26 percent of all residential sales during the first quarter. There were 233,299 foreclosures sold during the first three months of 2012, an increase of 8.0 percent from the fourth quarter of 2011 and virtually unchanged from the year before. Brandon Moore, RealtyTrac’s CEO, said the increase was largely due to a spike in short sales, which hit a three-year high during the first quarter. Also, the average sales price of bank-owned homes and foreclosures showed signs of stabilization. The average sales price was down just 1.0 percent from the previous quarter and fell 2.0 percent from the first quarter of 2011. More here and here.

Census Bureau Releases Characteristics Of New Housing Report

The U.S. Census Bureau’s Characteristics of New Housing report provides annual statistics on new privately owned residential structures, including size, price, number of bedrooms, financing, and types of construction material. The numbers offer a snapshot of the types of new homes being bought and sold in the nation’s four regions. Among the highlights of the 2011 report, the average single-family house increased in size in 2011. Last year, the average new home was 2,480 square feet, up from 2,392 square feet in 2010. Also, 39 percent of newly built single-family homes had 4 or more bedrooms and nearly half had 3 bedrooms. But despite increasing in size, the average new home sold for less last year compared to the year before. The average sales price fell to $267,900 from $272,900 in 2010. The number of new homes financed by a conventional loan rose to 62 percent last year and the percentage of FHA-insured loans fell five percent from the year before. More here.

Refinance Activity Hits Four Month High

According to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Weekly Applications Survey, refinance activity was at its highest level since February 10 last week, after climbing 2.0 percent from the previous week. The Market Composite Index, which measures total mortgage loan application volume, rose 1.3 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis, despite purchase demand falling slightly. Last week’s results include an adjustment for the Memorial Day holiday. Still, the refinance share of total mortgage activity increased to 78 percent and was the highest refinance share since February 24. The increase in refinance volume was likely due to the fact that average mortgage rates dropped to yet another survey low. The average contract interest rate on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances decreased to 3.87 percent from 3.91 percent the week before. More here and here.

Prospective Buyers Say Owning A Home Is Vital Part Of American Dream

A recent survey of more than 1,300 consumers found that Americans believe homeownership remains a vital part of achieving the American dream and associated feelings of pride with buying their first home. The poll, which assessed Americans’ perceptions of homeownership, had a particular focus on current renters and prospective homebuyers. Its results show that prospective buyers between the ages of 18 and 34 plan to buy and are eager to become homeowners, despite the housing market’s recent volatility. In fact, 85 percent said they intend to buy a home and 59 percent said they associated feelings of excitement with the buying process. Among current homeowners, 4 out of 5 said they bought their first home between the ages of 18 and 34 and two-thirds of them continue to be homeowners. Achieving the American Dream was among the top motivations for buying a home, along with being financially ready, having a growing family, and feeling homeownership is a good opportunity. More here.

Housing Barometer Finds Market Recovering Steadily

Trulia’s Housing Barometer is a monthly analysis of key market indicators, including housing starts, existing-home sales, and the delinquency and foreclosure rates. The barometer compares current conditions with pre-bubble levels and where the numbers were at their worst to determine how quickly the market is returning to normal. According to the most recent report, the housing market is recovering slowly but steadily. Housing starts have been in the 700,000 range since November and are now 23 percent of the way back to normal levels. Existing-home sales, on the other hand, are nearly 50 percent of the way back to their normal level after increasing from 4.47 million to 4.62 million in April. Also, the gauge measuring foreclosures and delinquencies is now 37 percent back to normal, compared to just 20 percent a year ago. More here.

Economic Confidence Rises To Four Year High

Americans’ view of the economy continues to improve, according to the most recent reading of Gallup’s Economic Confidence Index. The Index has improved 11 points since the beginning of the year and is up 38 points since last summer when it fell to a near-record low during the political fight over raising the debt ceiling. The Economic Confidence Index measures Americans’ perceptions of the economy based on a poll surveying views of both current economic conditions and the outlook for the future. In the most recent poll, 17 percent of Americans rated the economy as excellent or good while 37 percent viewed it as poor. Also, 42 percent of respondents said the economy is improving while 54 percent said it is worsening. According to Gallup, economic confidence is trending upward, despite a more bumpy view from week to week. More here.