24th October 2008

Ready for Some Good News? Say Yes!

Beleive it or not I am about to share some with you – both nationally and locally! I know everyone is tired of the bad financial news so here goes – a little upbeat housing market news…

Existing Home Sales Rise on Improved AffordabilityWASHINGTON, October 24, 2008

Existing-home sales increased last month as buyers responded to improved housing affordability conditions, according to the National Association of Realtors®.

Existing-home sales – including single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops – rose 5.5 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.18 million units in September from a level of 4.91 million in August, and are 1.4 percent higher than the 5.11 million-unit pace in September 2007.
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said more markets are seeing year-over-year gains. “The sales turnaround which began in California several months ago is broadening now to Colorado, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri and Rhode Island,” he said. “The South was hampered by much lower home sales in Houston in the aftermath of Hurricane Ike.”

NAR President Richard F. Gaylord, said low home prices and low interest rates have been attracting buyers. “This is the first time since November 2005 that home sales have been above year-ago levels,” he said. “Credit tightened at the end of September, but the improvement demonstrates that buyers who’ve been on the sidelines want to get into the market to make a long-term investment in their future.”

Total housing inventory at the end of September fell 1.6 percent to 4.27 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 9.9-month supply at the current sales pace, down from a 10.6-month supply in August. This marks two consecutive monthly declines since inventories peaked in July.
“Compared to a fairly small share of foreclosures or short sales a year ago, distressed sales are currently 35 to 40 percent of transactions. These are pulling the median price down because many are being sold at discounted prices,” Yun explained. “The current market is not being dominated by speculative investors. Rather, 80 percent of current buyers are purchasing a primary residence, which is a bit higher than historic norms.”

Now for Metro Atlanta…

According to Smart Numbers, after 18 consecutive monthly year-to-year percentage closing declines metro Atlanta will post an increase in the number of single family closings once the September closing lags are reported. Additionally, the number of closed transactions for September may be close or even exceed August 08’s 4180 closings. This is especially good news since historically September experiences a 10 to 25% decline in closed transactions compared to August.

Finally, according to the Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller Home Price Indexes as reported by Reuters on September 30 2008, markets in Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Denver and Minneapolis showed the most evidence that a bottom has formed, with home price increases for the past three months or more.

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