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Housing Barometer: Recovery Shakes Off Early-Spring Slump

For the first time during the housing recovery, 4 out of 5 Housing Barometer measures are at least halfway back to normal. But young adults are still struggling to get jobs.

How We Track This Uneven Recovery
Since February 2012, Trulia’s Housing Barometer has charted how quickly the housing market is moving back to “normal” based on multiple indicators. Because the recovery is uneven, with some housing activities improving faster than others, our Barometer highlights five measures:

  1. Home-price levels relative to fundamentals (Trulia Bubble Watch)
  2. Delinquency + foreclosure rate (Black Knight, formerly LPS)
  3. Existing home sales, excluding distressed sales (National Association of Realtors, NAR)
  4. New construction starts (Census)
  5. The employment rate for 25-34 year-olds, a key age group for household formation and first-time homeownership (Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS)

The first measure, home prices from our Bubble Watch, is a quarterly report. The other four measures are reported monthly; to reduce volatility, however, we use three-month moving averages for these measures. For each indicator, we compare the latest available data to (1) its worst reading for that indicator during the housing bust and (2) its pre-bubble “normal” level.

MD-235-Housing-Barometer_Q22014

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Housing Barometer: Recovery Staggers Forward Visualization Preview

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Housing Barometer: Recovery Staggers Forward

Trulia’s Housing Barometer shows that 4 of the 5 key housing indicators improved over the past year: prices, the delinquency+foreclosure rate, non-distressed home sales, and young-adult employment are all in better shape than one year ago. However, despite improvement, young-adult employment still isn’t halfway back to normal; neither is the fifth indicator, construction starts.

How We Track This Uneven Recovery
Since February 2012, Trulia’s Housing Barometer has charted how quickly the housing market is moving back to “normal” based on multiple indicators. Because the recovery is uneven, with some housing activities improving faster than others, our Barometer highlights five measures:

  1. New construction starts (Census)
  2. Existing home sales, excluding distressed sales (National Association of Realtors, NAR)
  3. Delinquency + foreclosure rate (Black Knight, formerly LPS)
  4. The employment rate for 25-34 year-olds, a key age group for household formation and first-time homeownership (Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS)
  5. Home-price levels relative to fundamentals (Trulia Bubble Watch)

The first four measures are reported monthly; to reduce volatility, we use three-month moving averages for these measures. The fifth, prices from our Bubble Watch, is a quarterly report. For each indicator, we compare the latest available data to (1) its worst reading for that indicator during the housing bust and (2) its pre-bubble “normal” level.

Housing-Barometer_Q12014

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Housing Barometer: Recovery Moving Ahead, Unevenly Visualization Preview

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Housing Barometer: Recovery Moving Ahead, Unevenly

Trulia’s revised Housing Barometer shows that 3 of the 5 key housing indicators are on track towards a full recovery. Home sales and prices are approaching normal levels, but construction and young-adult employment are badly lagging. At the metro level, some housing markets are fully recovered, while others are far from normal.

Jed Kolko, Chief Economist
December 11, 2013

Tracking This Uneven Recovery
Since February 2012, Trulia’s Housing Barometer has charted how quickly the housing market is moving back to “normal” based on three indicators: construction starts (Census), existing home sales (NAR), and the delinquency + foreclosure rate (LPS). Today, we’re re-launching our Housing Barometer, which better tracks the uneven recovery with some recalibrations and two additional housing market indicators:

  1. The level of home prices relative to fundamentals, based on our own Bubble Watch report.
  2. The employment rate for 25-34 year-olds, a key age group for household formation and first-time homeownership, based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics’s (BLS) monthly employment report.

In addition to adding two new measures, we’re excluding distressed sales from existing-home sales because non-distressed sales are a better measure of healthy market activity than overall sales. We’re also using three-month moving averages for the indicators that are reported monthly (sales, delinquency + foreclosure rate, starts, and employment) to smooth out volatility.

For each indicator, we compare the latest available data to (1) the worst reading for that indicator during the housing bust and (2) its pre-bubble “normal” level. We’re also no longer averaging together the “back to normal” levels across different indicators because the average masks huge differences among these indicators. Instead, we are taking a closer look at the recovery of each indicator: three are most of the way back to normal and closing the gap quickly, while two others are stagnating near troublesome lows.

MD-235 Housing Barometer_9

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With Recovery 67% Back to Normal, Trulia Retires Housing Barometer

Trulia’s Housing Barometer shows the recovery is now two-thirds of the way back to normal. Existing home sales have returned to their long-term normal level, while construction lags significantly. The recovery is not a straight line: it moves through different phases.

Jed Kolko, Chief Economist
September 26, 2013

Since February 2012, Trulia’s Housing Barometer has charted how quickly the housing market is moving back to “normal.”  We summarize three key housing market indicators: construction starts (Census), existing home sales (NAR), and the delinquency-plus-foreclosure rate (LPS First Look). For each indicator, we compare this month’s data to (1) how bad the numbers got at their worst and (2) their pre-bubble “normal” levels.

In August 2013, all three measures improved: construction starts and existing home sales rose slightly, while the delinquency + foreclosure rate moved strongly downward:

  • Construction starts increased a bit, but still far from normal. Starts were at an 891,000 seasonally adjusted annualized rate – up 1% from July and 19% year-over-year. Still, construction starts are 40% of the way back to normal – the slowest recovering measure of Trulia’s Housing Barometer.
  • Existing home sales have returned to normal. Sales rose in August to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 5.48 million – that’s up 13% year-over-year, and up 29% year-over-year when foreclosures and short sales are excluded. Overall, existing home sales are 99% back to normal, even though foreclosures and short sales still make up roughly one eighth of all existing home sales.
  • The delinquency + foreclosure rate continued its downward march. The share of mortgages in delinquency or foreclosure dropped to 8.66% in August, the lowest level in over 5 years. The combined delinquency + foreclosure rate is 60% back to normal.

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Trulia’s Housing Barometer: Tighter Inventory Complicates the Recovery

Fewer sales and more delinquencies mean the housing market slips to just 32% back to normal, a new low for 2012

Each month, Trulia’s Housing Barometer charts how quickly the housing market is moving back to “normal.”  We summarize three key housing market indicators: construction starts (Census), existing-home sales (NAR) and the delinquency-plus-foreclosure rate (LPS First Look). For each indicator, we compare this month’s data to (1) how bad the numbers got at their worst and (2) their pre-bubble “normal” levels.

In June 2012, construction starts improved, but existing home sales fell and the delinquency + foreclosure rate rose:

Construction starts jumped. Starts rose in June to a 760,000 annualized rate, up 7% month-over-month and 24% year-over-year. Construction activity was especially strong in Texas and the Carolinas. Now, construction starts are 28% of the way back to normal.

Existing home sales fell sharply, from 4.62 million in May to 4.37 million in June. Now, home sales are just 35% back to normal to from their worst point during the bust, down from 49% in May: they’re now much closer to their low of November 2008 than to their pre-bubble normal level. That’s a big slide. Tighter inventory, especially of distressed homes, held back sales.

The delinquency + foreclosure rate went up. In June, 11.23% of mortgages were delinquent or in foreclosure, up from 11.08% in May. (LPS revised its historical data, which changed our barometer measure slightly.) The delinquency + foreclosure rate is 34% back to normal, down a bit from 36% in May.

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