Tuesday, July 27, 2010

New Homes Sales Gain in June, But Gains Are Relative

New Home Supply June 2009 - June 2010
After a down month in May, the sales of newly-built homes appears back on track.
As published by the Census Bureau, June's New Home Sales report showed:
  1. A 24 percent sales volume increase from the month prior
  2. A 2-month drop in the supply of newly-built home
There are now just 210,000 new homes for sale nationwide.
June's data is a major improvement over May, but it's possible that the true "new home market" may be softer than the statistics suggest.  This is for several reasons.
First, we're comparing June's sales data to the worst month in New Home Sales history.
In May, sales of new homes totaled just 267,000 units nationwide. That's one-quarter fewer sales than in the previous worst month in New Home Sales history. May's sales levels were awful by any measure but June's improvement to 330,000 units remains second-worst sales levels ever posted.
Second, although much improved, June's new home supply of 7.6 months is elevated versus the historical norm near 6.0 months.  The last year has averaged 7.7 months.
For buyers of new homes in Henderson, Colorado, this combination of low sales volume and higher-than-normal inventory may be a positive.  It's the main reason why homebuilder confidence is reeling and the downturn has opened some doors for big discounts and deals. Free upgrades and closing cost credits can make a well-priced home even more attractive.
Plus, with mortgage rates at all-time lows and expected to rise, home affordability is may never be better.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Sagging Homebuilder Confidence Opens The Door For Good Deals

NAHB Housing Market Index July 2008-2010Builder confidence in the housing market slipped this month, according to the National Association of Homebuilders' monthly Housing Market Index.
The Housing Market Index is actually a weighted composite of 3 separate surveys. One measures current single-family sales; one measures projected single-family sales; and one measures traffic of prospective buyers.
All three surveys were down in July:
  • Single-Family Sales : From 17 (June) to 15 (July)
  • Single-Family Project : From 22 (June) to 21 (July)
  • Buyer Foot Traffic : From 13 (June) to 10 (July)
The HMI's July reading of 14 puts confidence at its lowest point since April 2009.
For home buyers in Henderson, Colorado , a drop in builder confidence could create an opportunity for negotiation.
Remember, it wasn't too long ago that most builders were flush with home inventory, unable to find willing buyers. To help move product at that time, builders dropped prices and offered incentives including free upgrades. If confidence continues to sag going forward, home purchase deals of that nature may return -- especially as the foreclosure market gets larger.
See, in the past, builders' main competition for buyers were the existing home sellers.  Today, builders compete with the existing home sellers and the banks with REO.
It's a terrific time to be a home buyer, in other words -- sellers are fighting for you. It's no wonder sellers have little leverage anymore. Couple that with all-time low mortgage rates and affordability for homes is at an all-time high.
If you're planning to buy a home later this year, you may want to consider moving up your time frame. The market looks ripe for good deals this summer.

Foreclosure Activity Slows Again In June 2010

Foreclosures per capita, June 2010
313,841 foreclosure filings were made in June, according to foreclosure-tracking firm RealtyTrac. The figure represents a 3 percent drop from May and 7 percent drop from June of last year. However, foreclosure filings remain relatively high nationwide.
June marks the 16th straight month the filings topped 300,000. 1 in every 411 U.S. homes received some form of notice last month with foreclosure density varying wildly from state-to-state.
Like everything else in real estate, it seems, foreclosures are a local phenomenon.
The states with the highest foreclosures per capita were:
  • Nevada : 1 foreclosure filing per 88 homes
  • Florida : 1 foreclosure filing per 171 homes
  • Arizona : 1 foreclosure filing per 189 homes
The states with the lowest foreclosures per capita were:
  • Vermont : 1 foreclosure filing per 26,051 homes
  • West Virgina : 1 foreclosure filing per 8,058 homes
  • South Dakota : 1 foreclosure filing per 6,528 homes
Overall, 40 states beat the national Foreclosure Per Capita average and 10 states fell below. The sheer volume of REO, though, is creating interesting buying opportunities for first-timer buyers, move-up buyers, and real estate investors in Denver.
Homes bought from banks are usually less expensive than non-foreclosure homes. This is one of the major reasons why distressed sales account for roughly 30 percent of all home resales. Less expensive, though, doesn't always mean "cheaper". Foreclosed homes are often sold as-is and may be defective or otherwise uninhabitable.
Making repairs to get these homes into "living condition" can be costly.
Therefore, if you're buying a foreclosed home, make sure you know what you're buying before you make your bid. Have a certified professional inspect the home to check for damage, and consider enlisting the help of a real estate agent to assist with negotiations and management of the contract.
The process of buying a foreclosed home is different from buying a typical resale. Make sure you do your homework.

Monday, July 19, 2010

25 Cities In Which To Get A Bang For Your Homebuying Buck

Affordable cities for homebuyersHome affordability is at an all-time high. Home values are still in recovery while mortgage rates continue to make new lows. But where are homes the most affordable?
CNNMoney.com recently ran a piece titled "Where Homes Are Affordable", listing 25 communities around the U.S. in which median incomes are relatively high and median homes are relatively low.  It's a housing market "bank for your buck" list.
The top 10 cities as listed by the editors:
  1. Deerfield Beach, FL
  2. Lafayette, IN
  3. San Antonio, TX
  4. Deltona, FL
  5. Spring, TX
  6. Glendale, AZ
  7. Avondale, AZ
  8. Bolingbrook, IL
  9. Fishers, IN
  10. Des Moines, IA
Of the top 10, 2 picks are from the Southeast; 4 are from the Midwest; and 4 are from the Southwest.  2 are "major" cities and the rest are suburbs of bigger cities.  Lafayette stands lone as a college town.
The rest of CNNMoney.com's 25 cities follow a similar pattern -- larger suburbs geographically concentrated in the Midwest and Southwest. Surprisingly, though, New Jersey and Virginia do find themselves represented.  Even the expensive Eastern Seaboard has its good buys.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

June's Jobs Report Wasn't As Bad As The Headlines (And How You Can Take Advantage)

Net Job Gains July 2008 - June 2010In June, for the first time since December 2009, the U.S. workforce shrank.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the economy shed 125,000 jobs last month even as the Unemployment Rate dropped to 9.5 percent. The drop in the Unemployment Rate is being attributed to fewer Americans looking for work.
At first glance, the jobs report looks weak but a deeper look shows something different.
Excluding the 225,000 government Census workers that recently left the workforce, the total number of employed persons actually grew by 83,000 in June. That's 50,000 more working Americans as compared to May.
And, since the start of the year, the U.S. workforce has grown by 857,000.
Jobs growth is closely tied to economic growth because more working Americans means more disposable income which, in turn, stokes consumer spending. Job growth is better than job loss.
Consumer spending makes up the majority of the U.S. economy so as consumer spending grows, investor mentality tends to shifts toward "return on principal" (i.e. stock markets) from "safety of principal" (i.e. bond markets).
A move like this is often bad for home affordability because falling demand for bonds is tied to higher mortgage rates. In addition, with the growing number of Americans earning a paycheck, demand for homes is likely to increase, thereby helping to push home prices higher.
Overall, therefore, the jobs report should be bad for rate shoppers and home buyers in Denver. Except the markets aren't reacting that way. For now, mortgage rates are slightly improved since the jobs report's release.
Perhaps Wall Street is watching the wrong figures, but don't let that be your loss. If you're shopping for a mortgage, a home, or both, now may be your best time to make a move- while rates are still low, with home prices down- before traders change their tune.
Because when markets change, it'll likely happen fast.

Monday, July 5, 2010

The 1 Force That Can Really Change A Mortgage Rate

Inflation and mortgage ratesAll day, every day, conforming and FHA mortgage rates in Colorado are in flux.  Rates move in response to hundreds of factors which exact varying levels of influence.
Among the biggest influences on mortgage rates is inflation.  When inflation is unexpectedly high, mortgage rates tend to rise quickly. Conversely, when inflation is unexpectedly low, rates tend to fall quickly.
But what is inflation?
By definition, inflation is when a currency loses its value; when what used to cost $1.00 now costs $1.10.
As consumers, we recognize inflation by the items we buy on a daily basis becoming more expensive.  However, it's not that goods are more expensive -- it's that the dollars we're using to buy them have become worth less.
With respect to mortgage rates, this is a big deal because mortgage rates are directly related to the price of a special type of bond called a mortgage-backed bond.
On Wall Street, mortgage-backed bonds are priced, bought, and sold in U.S. dollars so as inflation renders those dollars less valuable, so it does to mortgage-backed bonds as well. It's a chain reaction by which mortgage bonds lose value, leading investors sell them, causing bond prices to fall on the excess supply.
And, because mortgage rates move opposite of bond prices, as inflation takes hold, mortgage rates rise.
Lately, inflation has been exceptionally low. The Federal Reserve acknowledged as much in its last statement to the markets, and available data backs that position.  This, after predictions that inflation would be "runaway" in 2010.
The Cost of Living is up just modestly this year and it's helping mortgage rates stay low. And, so long as it lasts, the cost of owning a home in Belle Creek will remain relatively inexpensive.

How To Use A Fire Extinguisher In Your Home

In 2006, in the U.S., a person died in an in-home fire every 2 hours, 42 minutes, on average; someone was injured every 32 minutes. Nearly $7 billion of property damage was caused.
In this 2-minute video from Lowe's, you'll get a basic education on fire extinguishers:
  • How to pick the right fire extinguisher for the right job
  • Where to place fire extinguishers in a home
  • How to use the "PASS" technique on a fire
Keeping your household safe from fire requires preparation, and part of that preparation is keeping fire extinguishers on-hand, and ready for use.  Fire deaths are preventable -- make sure your home is properly equipped.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Was The Pending Home Sales Report Really That Bad? It Depends Who You Ask -- Buyer Or Seller.

Pending Home Sales Nov 2008 to May 2010The Pending Home Sales Index plunged in May 2010, just one month after the expiration of the federal home buyer tax credit program.
The Pending Home Sales Index is now at a record-low level.
A "pending home sale" is an existing home under contract to sell, but not yet closed. According to the National Association of Realtors®, 80 percent of homes under contract close within 60 days.
Because of this timeline, we can expect the summer's Existing Home Sales to be weak, too. With fewer homes going under contract, fewer homes can close.
On the surface, May's Pending Home Sales Index looks like terrible news for housing. And, if you're a seller, it just might be. But, if you're a buyer, the story reads differently.  Just consider the market conditions.
A broad look at the housing market shows:
  1. Home supplies are rising in most markets
  2. Home sales are falling in most markets
  3. Mortgage rates are at all-time lows
In other words, in most markets, more sellers are competing for fewer buyers, and the "winning" buyers are financing their homes at the lowest rates in history.
It's an excellent time to be a home buyer in Denver.