Sales of previously owned homes fell 0.9 percent in February but remain 8.8 percent above a year ago. According to data fromÂ the National Association of Realtors, existing-home sales, which include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums, and co-ops, were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.59 million down from the upwardly revised January number of 4.63 million. Lawrence Yun, NARâ€™s chief economist, said the market is trending up with record high consumer buying power and sustained job gains giving buyers the confidence to get into the market. The national median existing-home price was $156,600 in February, up 0.3 percent from a year ago. Also, unsold listed inventory is down 19.3 percent from February 2011 and, at the current sales pace, there is a 6.4-month supply of existing homes on the market. A six month supply is considered healthy for the housing market. MoreÂ here.
Builder confidence in the market for new single-family homes is twice as strong as it was six months ago and at its highest level since 2007. The latestÂ National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index, which measures buildersâ€™ expectations and perceptions, was unchanged from last month. Barry Rutenberg, chairman of the NAHB, said builders are still cautious but thereâ€™s a sense that many local housing markets have started to move in the right direction and that prospects for future sales are improving. The component gauging builders expectations for sales over the next six months was up for the six consecutive month, rising two points from the month before. Regionally, the Index was up in the Northeast, South, and Midwest but down in the West. MoreÂ here.
The National Association of Home Builders Improving Markets Indexclimbed to 99 in March, up from 98 in February. The index, which measures improvement in housing permits, employment, and prices, now includes 33 states with at least one housing market on the list and 10 with four or more improving metropolitan markets represented. David Crowe, NAHBâ€™s chief economist, said the bottom line is that roughly one quarter of all U.S. metropolitan areas are showing signs that their housing markets have turned the corner. San Antonio and Austin, Texas; Orlando, Fla.; Rochester, N.Y.; and Columbus, Ohio were all among the notable new additions to the improving markets index in March. MoreÂ here.
RealtyTracâ€™s U.S. Foreclosure Market Report for February 2012Â shows foreclosure filings, including scheduled auctions, default notices, and bank repossessions, fell 2.0 percent in February and were down 8.0 percent from the previous year. Despite the fact that foreclosures were down nationally, the 26 states with a judicial foreclosure process actually saw a slight increase in activity, while the 24 non-judicial states saw a 5.0 percent decrease. Brandon Moore, CEO of RealtyTrac, said Februaryâ€™s numbers indicate that the barriers that have been holding foreclosures back are removed and that should pave the way to a properly functioning foreclosure process. MoreÂ here.