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Housing inches closer to the pre-recession normal

From a bird’s eye view, housing is improving as new home sales and housing prices improve, delinquencies fall, and the sector inches closer to the pre-recession normal.

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Housing prices on the rise, new home prices likely to rise

According to the Federal Housing Finance Agency, home prices rose 0.7 percent in February compared to January, and a whopping 7.1 percent compared to February 2012, representing the largest gain in over six years, meeting economists’ expectations for today’s report. Inventory levels remain tight, and while home values are on the rise and multi-bid situations are becoming common, existing home sales fell 0.6 percent, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

Meanwhile, new home sales rose 1.5 percent between February and March after a devastating 7.6 percent drop the month prior, according to the U.S. Commerce Department. The median sales price is up 3.0 percent from March 2012, rising to $247,000 and sales performed best in the Northeast (up 20.6 percent for the month) and the South (up 19.4 percent) which made up for the dip in sales in the Midwest and West.

The report indicates that new home sales have risen 18.5 percent for the year and inventory levels remain at record lows, despite rising 2.0 percent for the month. Supply levels have hit 4.4 months, which will likely drive up new home prices as any supply below six months is considered an imbalance between supply and demand.

Mortgage delinquency rates dropping

Lender Processing Services, Inc. (LPS) today reports that not only has the mortgage delinquency rate continued to decline, falling 3.13 percent for the month to 6.59 percent. Florida, New Jersey, Mississippi, Nevada and New York had the highest percentage of delinquent loans.

The foreclosure inventory fell below five million total properties for the first time in five years. The number of properties over 30 days past due but not in foreclosure is at 3,308,000 and fully 1,466,000 properties are over 90 days delinquent but not in foreclosure, while 1,689,000 properties are in the foreclosure pre-sale inventory.

Summarizing the state of housing

Trulia’s march 2013 Housing Barometer measures housing starts, existing home sales, and delinquencies, reporting that combining the three, the housing recovery is now 56.0 percent back to normal, up from 33.0 percent just one year ago. The Barometer has now improved in eight of the last nine months.

The company notes that construction starts jumped to their highest level since June 2008, up 47 percent from the year prior, and multi-unit construction accounted for 38 percent of new starts, which is far above the typical multi-unit share of 20 percent. Additionally, they look to existing home sales which fell slightly for the month, but noted that non-distressed sales rose 23 percent for the year, “a key marker for recovery.”

Contrary to some economists’ position, Trulia’s Chief Economist, Dr. Jed Kolko says the restrictively tight inventory levels could finally be easing as seasonally adjusted, inventory rose for the second month in a row.

Tara Steele is the News Director at The American Genius, covering entrepreneur, real estate, technology news and everything in between. If you'd like to reach Tara with a question, comment, press release or hot news tip, simply click the link below.

Austin

Austin tops the list of best places to buy a home

When looking to buy a home, taking the long view is important before making such a huge investment – where are the best places to make that commitment?

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Looking at the bigger picture

(REALUOSO.COM) – Let us first express that although we are completely biased about Texas (we’re headquartered here, I personally grew up here), the data is not – Texas is the best. That’s a scientific fact. There’s a running joke in Austin that if there is a list of “best places to [anything],” we’re on it, and the joke causes eye rolls instead of humility (we’re sore winners and sore losers in this town).

That said, SelfStorage.com dug into the data and determined that the top 12 places to buy a home are currently Texas and North Carolina (and Portland, I guess you’re okay too or whatever).

They examined the nerdiest of numbers from the compound annual growth rate in inflation-adjusted GDP to cost premium, affordability, taxes, job growth, and housing availability.

“Buying a house is a big decision and a big commitment,” the company notes. “Although U.S. home prices have risen in the long term, the last decade has shown that path is sometimes full of twists, turns, dizzying heights and steep, abrupt falls. Today, home prices are stabilizing and increasing in most areas of the U.S.”

Click here to continue reading the list of the 12 best places to buy a home…

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Housing News

Average age of houses on the rise, so is it now better or worse to buy new?

With aging housing in America, are first-time buyers better off buying new or existing homes? The average age of a home is rising, as is the price of new housing, so a shift could be upon us.

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The average home age is higher than ever

(REALUOSO.COM) – In a survey from the Department of Housing and Urban Development American Housing Survey (AHS), the median age of homes in the United States was 35 years old. In Texas, homes are a bit younger with the median age between 19 – 29 years. The northeast has the oldest homes, with the median age between 50 – 61 years. In 1985, the median age of a home was only 23 years.

With more houses around 40 years old, the National Association of Realtors asserts that homeowners will have to undertake remodeling and renovation projects before selling unless the home is sold as-is, in which case the buyer will be responsible to update their new residence. Even homeowners who aren’t selling will need to consider remodeling for structural and aesthetic reasons.

Prices of new homes on the rise

Newer homes cost more than they used to. The price differential between new homes and older homes has increased from 10 percent traditionally to around 37 percent in 2014. This is due to rising construction costs, scarcity of lots, and a low inventory of new homes that doesn’t meet the demand.

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Housing News

Are Realtors the real loser in the fight between Zillow Group and Move, Inc.?

The last year has been one of dramatic and rapid change in the real estate tech sector, but Realtors are vulnerable, and we’re worried.

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Why Realtors are vulnerable to these rapid changes

(REALUOSO.COM) – Corporate warfare demands headlines in every industry, but in the real estate tech sector, a storm has been brewing for years, which in the last year has come to a head. Zillow Group and Move, Inc. (which is owned by News Corp. and operates ListHub, Realtor.com, TopProducer, and other brands) have been competing for a decade now, and the race has appeared to be an aggressive yet polite boxing match. Last year, the gloves came off, and now, they’ve drawn swords and appear to want blood.

Note: We’ll let you decide which company plays which role in the image above.

So how then, does any of this make Realtors the victims of this sword fight? Let’s get everyone up to speed, and then we’ll discuss.

1. Zillow poaches top talent, Move/NAR sues

It all started last year when the gloves came off – Move’s Chief Strategy Officer (who was also Realtor.com’s President), Errol Samuelson jumped ship and joined Zillow on the same day he phoned in his resignation without notice. He left under questionable circumstances, which has led to a lengthy legal battle (wherein Move and NAR have sued Zillow and Samuelson over allegations of breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and misappropriation of trade secrets), with the most recent motion being for contempt, which a judge granted to Move/NAR after the mysterious “Samuelson Memo” surfaced.

Salt was added to the wound when Move awarded Samuelson’s job to Move veteran, Curt Beardsley, who days after Samuelson left, also defected to Zillow. This too led to a lawsuit, with allegations including breach of contract, violation of corporations code, illegal dumping of stocks, and Move has sought restitution. These charges are extremely serious, but demanded slightly less attention than the ongoing lawsuit against Samuelson.

2. Two major media brands emerge

Last fall, the News Corp. acquisition of Move, Inc. was given the green light by the feds, and this month, Zillow finalized their acquisition of Trulia.

…Click here to continue reading this story…

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