Trulia’s Housing Barometer improved in February, up 20 percentage points from one year ago
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 February 2013, all three measures held steady or improved:
- Construction starts notched up. Starts were at a 917,000 annualized rate, up 0.8% month-over-month and up 28% year-over-year. Aside from a December spike in construction, February starts were at the second-highest level since July 2008. And 31% of February construction starts were in multi-unit buildings–compared with the typical level of 20%. Construction starts are now 43% of the way back to normal.
- Existing home sales also increased. Sales rose slightly to 4.98 million in February from 4.94 million in January. Year-over-year, sales were up 10%. Excluding distressed sales, conventional home sales were up 25% year-over-year in February. Importantly, inventory–which has been very tight and could hold back sales–rose almost 10% in February, which is a bigger jump than the typical seasonal increase. Overall, existing home sales are 70% back to normal.
- The delinquency + foreclosure rate dropped. The share of mortgages in delinquency or foreclosure dropped from 10.44% in January to 10.18% in February, and is now at its lowest level since October 2008. The combined delinquency + foreclosure rate is 46% back to normal.