Clear Capital’s latest Home Data Index finds the rate at which home prices are declining has begun to improve. In February, home prices were just 1.9 percent below year-before levels, the slowest rate of decline since April 2011. Regionally, home prices were down in the West and Midwest, while values were flat in the South and up slightly in the Northeast. On a quarterly basis, prices showed even more stability. Nationally, home prices were down 0.6 percent quarter-over-quarter. Dr. Alex Villacorta, director of research and analytics at Clear Capital, said improvements in the job market, stronger consumer confidence, and heightened activity in the lower-price tiers put upward pressure on prices and could explain recent resiliency. More here and here.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and U.S. Department of the Treasury released their February 2012 Housing Scorecard, which compiles key market data and the results of the administration’s recovery efforts through the end of January. According to the report, the supply of existing homes currently for sale would take 6.1 months to sell and the number of new homes on the market represents a 5.6 month supply, the lowest level since 2006. In addition to falling inventory levels, existing-home sales rose to their highest pace since May 2010 and home prices dipped during the month. Also, recent enhancements to the Home Affordable Refinance Program resulted in another 300,000 families beginning the process of refinancing their homes. More here and here.
Periodically, the Federal Reserve collects economic data from the 12 Fed districts around the country and releases the findings in a report known as the Beige Book. In its latest report, which includes data through February 17, the Fed says economic activity has continued to increase at a modest pace and noted improvements in residential real estate, banking, and lending services. The Beige Books says most parts of the country saw increases in housing activity, growth in home sales, and returned forecasts of further improvement for this year. And though home prices were mostly flat or down in many areas, gains in home sales will clear existing inventory and pave the way for price increases. The report also found varying rates of single-family residential construction and building permits around the country and increases in lending and demand for mortgages were seen in areas such as New York, Philadelphia, Richmond, Chicago, Dallas, and San Francisco. More here and here.
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