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Friday, May 4, 2012

Housing Data April 2012

Early reports show that the critical spring home buying season has gotten off to its best start in five years. Sales of new single-family homes totaled 83,000 units during the first quarter, up 16 percent from a year ago, while sales of existing single-family homes rose 7.2 percent, marking the best combined pace for first quarter home sales since 2007. The rise in existing home sales has generated a little excitement, as news is spreading that homes sold outside the foreclosure process are often receiving multiple bids and selling above the asking price.

The sudden prevalence of multiple bids around the country appears to be the result of unseasonably mild winter weather, which brought buyers back into the market to a much greater degree than sellers. The first quarter is typically the slowest quarter of the year, with March being the only busy month. Inventories of existing homes have fallen to just a 6.3-months’ supply, and the inventory of unsold vacant homes has fallen by 353,000 units over the past year. Inventories of new homes continue to decline and are now at a paltry 144,000 units nationwide. Only about one-third of those homes are actually completed. With inventories dwindling, home prices have improved a bit. The Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price Index rose 0.15 percent in February, and the year-over-year decline has moderated to just 3.5 percent. CoreLogic’s price index shows prices declining 2.0 percent over the past year, with prices excluding distressed properties down just 0.8 percent.

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