After moving upward for two straight months, existing-home sales retreated in April on both a monthly and annualized basis, according to the National Association of Realtors®. All four major regions saw no gain in sales activity last month. Total existing-home sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, decreased 2.5% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.46 million in April from 5.60 million in March. With last month’s decline, sales are now 1.4% below a year ago and have fallen year-over-year for two straight months. The median existing-home price for all housing types in April was $257,900, up 5.3% from April 2017 ($245,000). March’s price increase marks the 74th straight month of year-over-year gains. Total housing inventory at the end of April increased 9.8% to 1.80 million existing homes available for sale, but is still 6.3% lower than a year ago (1.92 million) and has fallen year-over-year for 35 consecutive months. Unsold inventory is at a 4.0-month supply at the current sales pace (4.2 months a year ago). Properties typically stayed on the market for 26 days in April, which is down from 30 days in February and 29 days a year ago. Fifty-seven% of homes sold in April were on the market for less than a month.
Realtor.com’s Market Hotness Index, measuring time-on-the-market data and listings views per property, revealed that the hottest metro areas in April were Midland, Texas; Boston-Cambridge-Newton, Mass.; San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, Calif.; Columbus, Ohio; and Vallejo-Fairfield, Calif. According to Freddie Mac, the average commitment rate (link is external) for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage increased for the seventh straight month to 4.47% in April (highest since 4.49% in September 2013) from 4.44% in March. The average commitment rate for all of 2017 was 3.99%. First-time buyers were 33% of sales in April (highest since last July), which is up from 30% last month but down from 34% a year ago. NAR’s 2017 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers – released in late 20175 – revealed that the annual share of first-time buyers was 34%. “Especially with mortgage rates going up in recent weeks, prospective buyers should visit with more than one lender to ensure they are getting the lowest rate possible,” NAR President Elizabeth Mendenhall, a sixth-generation Realtor® from Columbia, Missouri and CEO of RE/MAX Boone Realty. “Receiving a rate quote from multiple lenders could lead to considerable savings over the life of the loan. Ask a Realtor® for a few recommendations of lenders to contact to get a quote.” All-cash sales were 21% of transactions in April, which is up from 20% in March and unchanged from a year ago. Individual investors, who account for many cash sales, purchased 15% of homes in April (unchanged from last month and a year ago).Distressed sales – foreclosures and short sales – were 3.5% of sales in April (lowest since NAR began tracking in October 2008), down from 4% last month and 5% a year ago. Three% of April sales were foreclosures and 0.5% were short sales.
Single-family home sales declined 3.0% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.84 million in April from 4.99 million in March, and are 1.6% below the 4.92 million sales pace a year ago. The median existing single-family home price was $259,900 in April, up 5.5% from April 2017.Existing condominium and co-op sales increased 1.6% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 620,000 units in April (unchanged from a year ago). The median existing condo price was $242,500 in April, which is 3.4% above a year ago. April existing-home sales in the Northeast fell 4.4% to an annual rate of 650,000, and are 11.0% below a year ago. The median price in the Northeast was $275,200, which is 2.8% above April 2017. In the Midwest, existing-home sales were at an annual rate of 1.29 million in April (unchanged from March), and are 3.0% below a year ago. The median price in the Midwest was $202,100, up 4.6% from a year ago. Existing-home sales in the South decreased 2.9% to an annual rate of 2.33 million in April, but are still 2.2% above a year ago. The median price in the South was $227,600, up 3.9% from a year ago. Existing-home sales in the West declined 3.3% to an annual rate of 1.19 million in April, and are 0.8% below a year ago. The median price in the West was $382,100, up 6.2% from April 2017.
Oil price retreats on potential supply boost
Oil prices fell on Friday, on the possibility that more supply will hit the market, making up for the drop in supplies from Venezuela which, along with OPEC’s output cutback have helped rebalance the market. Oil’s rally has accelerated in recent weeks on the potential for another supply reduction as sanctions could curb Iranian exports. On Friday, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said he has had talks with Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih on an easing of the terms of the global oil supply pact. OPEC and some non-OPEC members agreed to work together to curb output in order to balance an oversupplied market 17 months ago. The agreement was reached after months of depressed prices, which were a result of a global supply glut. The pact worked, with the oil markets now much more balanced, which has buoyed prices. According to Reuters, the energy ministers of Saudi Arabia, Russia and the United Arab Emirates are debating an output increase of about 1 million barrels per day
President Trump signs Dodd-Frank rollback into law
President Donald Trump signed a major Dodd-Frank rollback into law Thursday, hoping to bring regulatory relief to community banks across the US On Tuesday afternoon, the House of Representatives passed S. 2155, also known as the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act. The bill rolls back reforms from the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act. “Dodd-Frank’s costly regulations gave large banks a negative advantage at the cost of small banks throughout the country,” Trump said at the signing. The president explained Dodd-Frank made it impossible to open up new businesses. But now, the new law will “liberate small banks.” Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Acting Director Mick Mulvaney also voiced his support for the bill, saying it will improve consumers’ access to credit and reduce regulatory burdens. “As Acting Director of the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection, I am pleased to see the long-overdue reforms to the regulations governing mortgage lending,” Mulvaney said. “These changes will allow community banks and credit unions to focus on making prudent loans to prospective homebuyers without being tied up in expensive and excessive red tape.” “I stand ready to work with Congress and the rest of the Administration to implement these new reforms that will promote a brighter, more prosperous future,” he said. The bill cleared the Senate in March and was sent back to the House for approval.
The bill, which aims to ease regulations on small banks, was sponsored by Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, with nearly 20 bipartisan co-sponsors, and was introduced in the Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs. “NAFCU and our members again appreciate all House and Senate lawmakers who worked on this bill and pushed it through to final passage – especially Senate Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo and House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling,” said Dan Berger, National Association of Federally Insured Credit Unions president and CEO. “We appreciate President Trump signing the bill, as we can now look towards the future and continue to work with Congress on further regulatory relief measures to ensure robust growth of the credit union industry,” Berger said. And other members of the housing industry joined in their excitement for the law’s passage. “We applaud the President for signing the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act today,” NewDay USA Executive Chairman Thomas Lynch said. “This new law will help protect my fellow veterans, active duty military and their families as they access the VA home loan benefits they have earned.” “It helps provide better access to their benefits, but most importantly, it goes a long way in defending them from predatory lenders who are not working in the best interest of the veteran,” Lynch said. But while the new law is bipartisan and holds significant support from the housing industry, it does still have its critics. Read more about the debate, here.
Fiat Chrysler recalling 4.8 million US-made vehicles
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles said Friday it is recalling an estimated 4.8 million US-market vehicles to upgrade software in the mechanism that operates the vehicles’ cruise-control. In response to driving conditions such as varying road grades, cruise-control systems automatically initiate acceleration, as needed, to help vehicles maintain driver-selected speeds, the company said in a statement. “In certain vehicles, if such an acceleration were to occur simultaneously with a short-circuit in a specific electrical network, a driver could be unable to cancel cruise-control,” the company said. “However, if this sequence of events were to occur, cruise-control acceleration can be overpowered by the vehicle’s brakes.” The company, which said it is unaware of any related injuries or accidents, also said recalled vehicles may also be stopped by shifting into neutral and braking accordingly. The remedy will be provided free of charge. FCA US will begin alerting affected customers as early as next week so they may schedule service appointments.
Florida – sales, median prices, new listings up in April 2018
In April, Florida’s housing sector reported more closed sales, higher median prices and more new listings from owners ready to enter the market, according to the latest housing data released by Florida Realtors®. “Not enough for-sale inventory, especially in the range for first-time homebuyers, is an ongoing challenge for many local housing markets,” said 2018 Florida Realtors President Christine Hansen, broker-owner with Century 21 Hansen Realty in Fort Lauderdale. “Pent-up demand continues to put upward pressure on prices. In April, sellers continued to get more of their original asking price at the closing table. Sellers of existing single-family homes last month received 96.6% (median percentage) of their original listing price, while those selling townhouse-condo properties received 95% (median percentage). “But there is some positive news for buyers: New listings for single-family homes in April rose 9.8% year-over-year, while new townhouse-condo listings increased 8.3%. This trend will hopefully continue, which would help ease the too-tight inventory in many areas.”Sales of single-family homes statewide totaled 24,804 last month, up 4.1% compared to April 2017. Meanwhile, the statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes was $253,895, up 8.1% from the previous year, according to data from Florida Realtors Research Department in partnership with local Realtor boards/associations. Thestatewide median price for townhouse-condo properties in April was $190,000, up 10.5% over the year-ago figure.
April was the 76th month in a row that the statewide median sales prices for both single-family homes and townhouse-condo properties rose year-over-year, according to data from Florida Realtors Research Department in partnership with local Realtor boards/associations. The median is the midpoint; half the homes sold for more, half for less. Looking at Florida’s townhouse-condo market, statewide closed sales totaled 11,236 last month, up 9.2% compared to a year ago. Closed sales data reflected dwindling short sales and foreclosures in April: Short sales for townhouse-condo properties dropped 27.5% and foreclosures fell 41.8% year-to-year; while short sales for single-family homes declined 48.8% and foreclosures fell 50.7% year-to-year. Closed sales may occur from 30- to 90-plus days after sales contracts are written. “More often than not, the pace for Florida’s busy spring and summer homebuying season seems to be set in March and April,” said Florida Realtors Chief Economist Dr. Brad O’Connor. “On the heels of a somewhat slow month of March this year, it’s good to see that state existing home sales rebounded quite nicely in April. With last month’s sales factored in, we’re ahead of last year’s pace of single-family home sales by about a half of a%. “Demand for single family homes remains strong across the state and this abundance of buyers continues to deplete active inventories and drive up prices.” For-sale inventory in April remained tight, at a 3.8-months’ supply for single-family homes and 5.8-months’ supply for townhouse-condo properties, according to Florida Realtors.
NAHB – multifamily builders and developers remain positive about the apartment and condo market as demand continues
Confidence in the multifamily housing market remained positive in the first quarter of 2018, according to the Multifamily Production Index (MPI) and the Multifamily Vacancy Index (MVI) released today by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). The MPI remained unchanged from last quarter, coming in at a reading of 53, while the MVI remained essentially unchanged at 42.The MPI measures builder and developer sentiment about current conditions in the apartment and condo market on a scale of 0 to 100. The index and all of its components are scaled so that a number above 50 indicates that more respondents report conditions are improving than report conditions are getting worse. The MPI is a weighted average of three key elements of the multifamily housing market: construction of low-rent units—apartments that are supported by low-income tax credits or other government subsidy programs; market-rate rental units—apartments that are built to be rented at the price the market will hold; and for-sale units—condominiums. The component measuring low-rent units edged down two points to 54, while the component measuring market rate rental units increased two points to 56 and the component measuring for-sale units remained even at 49.
The Multifamily Vacancy Index (MVI), which measures the multifamily housing industry’s perception of vacancies, remained essentially unchanged with an increase of one point to 42. The MVI is a weighted average of current occupancy indexes for class A, B, and C multifamily units, and can vary from 0 to 100, where any number over 50 indicates more property managers report more vacant apartments. A reading of 42 is seen as a healthy number for the multifamily market. “Multifamily builders and developers are reporting solid demand around the country, as shown in the vacancy rate for the first quarter,” said Steve Lawson, president of The Lawson Companies in Virginia Beach, Va., and chairman of NAHB’s Multifamily Council. “We anticipate steady demand through the rest of the year as household formations continue to grow.” “The stability of multifamily builder confidence is consistent with NAHB’s view that the market has reached a healthy, sustainable level of production,” said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. “The overall strong economy is supporting demand and balancing supply-side issues many builders are facing, including shortages of labor and buildable lots, and the recent surge in lumber prices.” Historically, the MPI and MVI have performed well as leading indicators of US Census figures for multifamily starts and vacancy rates, providing information on likely movement in the Census figures one to three quarters in advance.