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Economic News

Pending home sales dip, mortgage rates continue to fall

NAR points to closing delays and paperwork problems at banks for the uneven performance in sales closings, which they say is likely to continue.

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Pending home sales dip

According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), pending home sales (contract signings) fell 1.4 percent in June, but rose 9.5 percent compared to June 2011. June marks the 14th consecutive month of year-over-year gains, says NAR.

Dr. Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said that inventory shortages are a factor. “Buyer interest remains strong but fewer home listings mean fewer contract signing opportunities. We’ve been seeing a steady decline in the level of housing inventory, which is most pronounced in the lower price ranges popular with first-time buyers and investors.”

According to the Realtors® Confidence Index, the buyer traffic index stood at 60 in June while the seller index was 41, which shows a large imbalance between buyer and seller interest. NAR reports that a value of 50 implies neutral market conditions; the disparity between buyers and sellers began to grow in early spring and has been in a particularly large imbalance for the past two months.

“Any bank-owned properties that have been held back in markets with inventory shortages should be released expeditiously to help meet market demand,” Dr. Yun said. “Housing starts will likely need to double over the next two years to satisfy the pent-up demand for both rentals and ownership.”

NAR PHSI

Pending home sales’ regional performance

In the Northeast, pending home sales fell 7.6 percent, remaining 12.2 percent above June 2011, while the Midwest fell 0.4 percent for the month, but is up 17.3 percent for the year. In the South, pending home sales dropped 2.0 percent, and is up 8.8 percent from June 2011.

Pending home sales actually rose 2.6 percent in the West for the month, and the index is 3.0 percent higher than June 2011.

According to the Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Market Survey (PMMS) data released Thursday morning, rates are continuing their trend of dropping. The average rate on a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell from 3.53 percent last week to 3.49 this week, while 15-year fixed rate mortgages dropped from 2.83 percent to 2.80 percent.

“With record low mortgage interest rates, there has been a surge of refinancing on top of a higher level of home purchases, which has been creating delays recently in the closing process,” Dr. Yun said.

“In addition, there have been some delays with recent foreclosure sales as banks take steps to ensure there are no paperwork problems,” Dr. Yun continued. “This is causing an uneven performance in sales closings, which is likely to continue, but we also see notably higher levels of sales activity compared with a relatively flat performance in the preceding four years.”

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.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Joe Loomer

    July 27, 2012 at 8:00 am

    I think your title should have been something about Pending Home Sales up almost 10% over June 2011!!  Month-to-month stats can be relevant, but comparing to the previous year’s number (or several years – same month) is far more indicative of actual behavior.  

  2. TerryFriedman

    July 27, 2012 at 9:29 pm

    RAISE INTEREST RATES AND THE ECONOMY WILL SOAR….LOW RATES AND A DEVALUED DOLLAR KEEP PEOPLE DOWN AND BUSINESS DOWN. THERE IS NO INCENTIVE TO BUY HOUSES NOW WHEN WE HEAR THAT RATES WILL REMAIN LOW FOR THE NEXT SEVERAL YEARS?….

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Economic News

Is the real estate industry endorsing Carson’s nomination to HUD?

(BUSINESS NEWS) Ben Carson’s initial appointment to HUD was controversial given his lack of experience in housing, but what is the pulse now?

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NAR strongly backs Dr. Carson’s nomination

When President-Elect Donald Trump put forth Dr. Ben Carson’s name as the nominee for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, NAR President William E. Brown said, “While we’ve made great strides in recent years, far more can be done to put the dream of homeownership in reach for more Americans.”

At the time of nomination, the National Association of Realtors (the largest trade organization in the nation) offered a positive tone regarding Dr. Carson and said the industry looks forward to working with him. But does that hold true today?

The confirmation hearings yesterday were far less controversial than one would expect, especially in light of how many initially reacted to his nomination. Given his lack of experience in housing, questions seemed to often center around protecting the LGBT community and veterans, both of which he pledged to support.

In fact, Dr. Carson said the Fair Housing Act is “one of the best pieces of legislation we’ve ever had in this country,” promising to issue a “world-class plan” for housing upon his confirmation…

>>>>>Click to continue reading…<<<<<

#CarsonHUD

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Economic News

Job openings hit 14-year high, signaling economic improvement

The volume of job openings is improving, but not across all industries. The overall economy is improving, but not evenly across all career paths.

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Job openings hit a high point

To understand the overall business climate, the U.S. Labor Department studies employment, today releasing data specific to job vacancies. According to the department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLT) for April, job openings rose to 5.38 million, the highest seen since December 2000, and a significant jump from March’s 5.11 million vacancies. Although a lagging indicator, it shows strength in the labor market.

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The Labor Department reports that the number of hires in April fell to 5 million, which indicates a weak point in the strong report, and although the volume remains near recent highs, this indicates a talent gap and highlights the number of people who have left the labor market and given up on looking for a job.

Good news, bad news, depending on your profession

That said, another recent Department report notes that employers added 221,000 jobs in April and 280,000 in May, but the additions are not evenly spread across industries. Construction jobs rose in April, but dipped in professional and business services, hospitality, trade, and transportation utilities. In other words, white collar jobs are down, blue collar jobs are up, which is good or bad news depending on your profession.

Additionally, the volume of people quitting their jobs was 2.7 million in April compared to the seven-year high of 2.8 million in March. Economists follow this number as a metric for gauging employee confidence in finding their next job.

What’s next

If you’re in the market for a job, there are an increasing number of openings, so your chance of getting hired is improving, but there is a caveat – not all industries are enjoying improvement.

If you’re hiring talent, you’ll still get endless resumes, but there appears to be a growing talent gap for non-labor jobs, so you’re not alone in struggling to find the right candidate.

Economists suspect the jobs market will continue to improve as a whole, but this data does not pertain to every industry.

#JobOpenings

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Economic News

Gas prices are down, so are gas taxes about to go up?

Do low gas prices mean higher gas taxes are on the way? Budgeting for 2015 just got a bit more complicated, if some politicians have their way.

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Gas taxes and your bottom line

Many industries rely heavily on time in their vehicle, not just truck drivers and delivery trucks. Sales professionals hop in their vehicles throughout the day, as do many other types of professionals (service providers like plumbers, and so forth). For that reason, gas prices and taxes are a relevant line item that must be budgeted for 2015, but with politicians making the rounds to push for higher gas taxes, budgeting becomes more complicated.

Gas prices are down roughly 50 cents per gallon compared to a year ago, which some analysts say have contributed to more money in consumers’ pockets. Some believe that this will improve holiday sales, but others believe the timing is just right to increase federal taxes on gas. The current tax on gas is 18.40 cents per gallon, and on diesel are 24.40 cents per gallon.

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Supporters and opponents are polar opposites

Supporters argue as follows: gas prices are low, so it won’t hurt to increase federal gas taxes, in fact, those funds must go toward improving our infrastructure, which in the long run, saves Americans money because smoother roads mean better gas mileage and less congestion.

Gas taxes have long been a polarizing concept, and despite lowered gas prices, the controversial nature of the taxes have not diminished.

While some are pushing for complete abolition of federal gas taxes, others, like former Pennsylvania Governor, Ed Rendell (D) tell CNBC, “Say that cost the average driver $130 a year. They would get a return on that investment” in safer roads and increased quality of life, he added.

The Washington Post‘s Chris Mooney points out that federal gas taxes have been “stuck” at 18 cents for over 20 years, last raised when gas was barely a dollar a gallon and that the tax must increase not only to improve the infrastructure, but to “green” our behavior, and help our nation find tax reform compromise.

Is a gas tax politically plausible?

Mooney writes, “So, this is not an argument that a gas tax raise is politically plausible — any more than a economically efficient tax on carbon would be. It’s merely a suggestion that — ignoring politics — it might be a pretty good idea.”

Rendell noted, “The World Economic Forum, 10 years ago, rated us the best infrastructure in the world,” adding that we “need to do something for our infrastructure, not in a one or two year period, but over a decade.”

Others would note that this rating has not crumbled in just a few years, that despite many bridges and roads in need of repair, our infrastructure is still superior to even the most civilized nations.

Regardless of the reasons, most believe that Congress won’t touch this issue with a ten-foot pole, especially leading up to another Presidential campaign season starting next year.

“I think it’s too toxic and continues to be too toxic,” Steve LaTourette (the former Republican congressman best known for his close friendship with his fellow Ohioan, Speaker John Boehner) tells The Atlantic. “I see no political will to get this done.”

Whether the time is fortuitous or not, and regardless of the positive side effects, many point to a fear of voters’ retaliation against any politician siding with a gas hike, so this matter going any further than the proposal stage is unlikely.

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