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ORLANDO, Fla. – June 20, 2013 – Florida’s housing market continued its upswing in May, with higher closed sales, more pending sales, rising median prices, more new listings and a lower inventory of homes for sale, according to the latest housing data released by Florida Realtors®.
“Home sales continue to increase, it’s taking less time for sales to close, and median sales prices are on the rise,” said 2013 Florida Realtors President Dean Asher, broker-owner with Don Asher & Associates Inc. in Orlando. “This is the 17th month in a row that we’ve seen the statewide median sales prices increase year-over-year for both single-family homes and for townhome-condo properties.
“Sellers are seeing this momentum in Florida’s housing sector and it’s prompting many to decide now is the time to list their property for sale. Statewide, new listings for single-family homes increased 10.2 percent in May, while new townhome-condo listings rose 7.1 percent.”
Statewide closed sales of existing single-family homes totaled 22,375 in May, up 18.7 percent compared to the year-ago figure, according to data from Florida Realtors Industry Data and Analysis department in partnership with local Realtor boards/associations. Closed sales typically occur 30 to 90 days after sales contracts are written.
Meanwhile, pending sales – contracts that are signed but not yet completed or closed – for existing single-family homes last month rose 30.8 percent over the previous May. The statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes last month was $171,000, up 15.9 percent from the previous year.
According to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR), the national median sales price for existing single-family homes in April 2013 was $193,300, up 11 percent from the previous year. In California, the statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes in April was $402,760; in Massachusetts, it was $315,000; in Maryland, it was $258,093; and in New York, it was $218,875.
The median is the midpoint; half the homes sold for more, half for less. Housing industry analysts note that sales of foreclosures and other distressed properties downwardly distort the median price because they generally sell at a discount relative to traditional homes.
Looking at Florida’s year-to-year comparison for sales of townhouse-condos, a total of 11,201 units sold statewide last month, up 11.5 percent compared to May 2012. Meanwhile, pending sales for townhouse-condos last month increased 18.3 percent compared to the year-ago figure. The statewide median for townhouse-condo properties was $128,000, up 13 percent over the previous year. NAR reported that the national median existing condo price in April 2013 was $189,500.
The inventory for single-family homes stood at a 5-months’ supply in May; inventory for townhouse-condos was at a 5.4-months’ supply, according to Florida Realtors.
“The numbers continue to move in the right direction,” said Florida Realtors Chief Economist Dr. John Tuccillo. “We remain concerned about the rise in the percentage of sales accounted for by all cash buyers. These numbers understate the true condition of the market in that a great many sales are conducted directly with the financial institution holding the property, and thus do not appear in the Multiple Listing Service (MLS).
“But those crying doom-and-gloom who read this growth in investor activity as the sign of a new bubble are far off-base and simply don’t understand the texture of the current market.”
According to Freddie Mac, the interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.54 percent in May 2013, down from the 3.80 percent average recorded during the same month a year earlier.
To see the full statewide housing activity report, go to Florida Realtors website Research & Statistics pageand click on the Research page; then look under Current Market Reports and get the statewide May reports. Or go to Florida Realtors Media Center and download the May 2013 data report PDFs under Market Data.
© 2013 Florida Realtors®
FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. – June 11, 2013 – David R. Leopold, owner of Pillar to Post Home Inspection in Fairfield County, Conn., says home sellers and their real estate professionals have an important role in preparing for a home inspection to ensure it goes smoothly.
Leopold offers up some of the following tips in a recent article in RISMedia:
1. Don’t hide what isn’t working: If an appliance isn’t working, leave a note that indicates what isn’t working and how you’re getting it fixed. Don’t try to conceal defects because it can make the inspector start to view you as dishonest and wonder what else you’re hiding.
2. Make things accessible: Ensure the location of the attic and crawlspace are identified and easy to access. Don’t make a home inspector move your belongings in order to do his or her job.
3. Check the light bulbs: If a light isn’t working, the inspector needs to determine if the fixture is inoperable. Save them time by making sure all light bulbs operate, including those in the crawlspace and attic and furnace.
4. Note septic systems: If you have a septic system in the yard, be sure to leave a sketch that includes its location. Without guidelines, home inspectors, buyers and real estate professionals may have to conduct a prolonged search for it, Leopold says.
5. Keep appliances clear: Don’t leave dirty laundry in the washing machine or dryer because the inspector will test the appliances, and he doesn’t want to pull out clothes in front of everybody. “Also, make sure your oven and stovetop are clear and clean, so we can easily test them without setting off the smoke alarm,” Leopold adds.
Source: “Ask the Experts: What Should Home Sellers Do to Prepare for a Home Inspection?” RISMedia (April 16, 2013)
© Copyright 2013 INFORMATION, INC. Bethesda, MD (301) 215-4688.
WASHINGTON – June 4, 2013 – U.S. home prices increased 12.1 percent in April from a year earlier, the biggest gain since February 2006, as more buyers competed for fewer homes.
Real estate data provider CoreLogic says prices rose in April from the previous April in 48 states. Prices also rose 3.2 percent in April from March, much better than the previous month-to-month gain of 1.9 percent.
Prices in Nevada jumped 24.6 percent from a year earlier, the most among the states. California’s gain was next at 19.4 percent, followed by Arizona’s 17.3 percent, Hawaii’s 17 percent and Oregon’s 15.5 percent.
More people are looking to purchase homes. But the number of homes for sale is 14 percent lower than it was a year ago. The supply shortage has contributed to the price increases.
Rising home prices can help sustain the housing recovery. They encourage more homeowners to sell. And they spur would-be homeowners to buy before prices increase further.
Home sales and prices began to recover last year, six years after the housing bust. They have been buoyed by steady job gains and low mortgage rates.
Sales of previously occupied homes ticked up to a 3 1/2 year high in April, according to the National Association of Realtors. And they are likely to keep growing: A measure of signed contracts to buy homes rose to its highest level in three years in April. There is generally a one- to two-month lag between a signed contract and a completed sale.
The limited supply of homes has also made builders more willing to ramp up construction. That’s creating more construction jobs. Applications for building permits rose in April to the highest level in nearly five years.
Prices rose in April from the previous year in 94 out of the 100 largest U.S. cities, CoreLogic said. That’s up from 88 in the previous month.
Los Angeles and Phoenix reported the biggest price gains among the cities, CoreLogic said. Prices in both cities leapt 19.2 percent compared with a year earlier.
They were followed by Atlanta and Riverside-San Bernardino, which both posted 16.5 percent gains. Dallas rounded out the top five, with a 10.2 percent increase.
Despite the large gains, home prices are more than 22 percent below their April 2006 peak, the CoreLogic survey found.
In Nevada, they are still 47.3 percent below their peak, and in Florida, prices are 40.5 percent below their peak.
Copyright © 2013 The Associated Press, Christopher S. Rugaber, AP economics writer. All rights reserved.
Florida city home sales
The 20-city Index considers two Florida cities for its results – Miami and Tampa. In Miami, S&P/Case-Schiller found a 10.7% year-over-year price rise; in Tampa, it found 11.8%.
WASHINGTON (AP) – May 29, 2013 – U.S. home prices jumped 10.9 percent in March compared with a year ago, the most since April 2006. A growing number of buyers are bidding on a tight supply of homes, driving prices higher and helping the housing market recover.
The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller home price index released Tuesday also showed that all 20 cities measured by the report posted year-over-year gains for the third straight month.
And prices rose in 15 cities in March from February. That’s up from only 11 in the previous month. The monthly figures aren’t seasonally adjusted and may reflect the beginning of the spring buying season.
Prices rose in Phoenix by 22.5 percent over the past 12 months, the biggest gain among cities. It was followed by San Francisco (22.2 percent) and Las Vegas (20.6 percent).
New York City had the smallest year-over-year increase at 2.6 percent, followed by Cleveland at 4.8 percent.
“Rising home prices may begin to alleviate a lack of housing inventory … by encouraging more homeowners to put their properties on the market,” said Maninder Sibia, an economist with Economic Advisory Service, in a note to clients. “The housing market is clearly improving.”
The index covers roughly half of U.S. homes. It measures prices compared with those in January 2000 and creates a three-month moving average. The March figures are the latest available.
The U.S. housing market is steadily recovering, buoyed by solid job gains and near-record low mortgage rates. Sales of new homes rose in April to nearly a five-year high. And sales of previously occupied homes ticked up in April to the highest level in three and a half years.
Despite the gains, a limited number of homeowners are putting their houses on the market. That’s helped lift home prices. And it’s made builders more willing to ramp up construction. Applications for building permits rose in April to the highest level in nearly five years.
The supply of available homes jumped in April, but was still 14 percent below its level a year earlier.
Stan Humphries, chief economist at Zillow, a real estate data provider, said that the increase in the Case-Shiller index has been skewed higher by cities such as Phoenix and San Francisco. Fewer homes are available in those areas because many homeowners still owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth. That makes it difficult to sell.
Still, even excluding those markets, home prices are rising steadily nationwide, Humphries said. The increases are “certainly confirmation that the housing market is experiencing a brisk recovery,” he added.
The housing recovery is creating more construction jobs and bolstering the economy in other ways. Higher home prices make homeowners feel wealthier and encourages them to spend more.
Rising prices also encourage more would-be buyers to purchase homes, before prices rise further. They also enable more homeowners to sell homes, by reducing the number of people who owe more on their mortgages than the homes are worth.
Prices have been increasing steadily since last summer. Still, they are about 29 percent below the peak reached in July 2006.
Banks have raised their credit standards since the housing bubble burst and are demanding larger downpayments. That’s made it particularly hard for potential first-time buyers to get a mortgage.
Copyright © 2013 The Associated Press, Christopher S. Rugaber, AP economics writer. All rights reserved.
WASHINGTON – May 20, 2013 – Changes are coming to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) that could impact real estate transactions and property owners across the country.
Experts from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) that manages the government’s flood insurance program spoke to Realtors® at the Flood Insurance 101 session during National Association of Realtors® (NAR) Midyear Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo that concluded Saturday in Washington, D.C.
Last year’s Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act reauthorized the flood insurance program through 2017 so property owners could afford access flood insurance, according to Kristin Robinson, FEMA senior advisor. But the Act also changed some of the rules.
NAR says it strongly supported the Act, and it believes the NFIP saves taxpayers property and money by reducing the cost of government assistance following a flood disaster.
The NFIP writes and renews flood insurance policies for more than 5.6 million home and business owners in more than 21,000 communities nationwide where flood insurance is required for a mortgage. Before Congress passed the Biggert-Waters legislation, the program operated under short-term extensions. In the past five years, there were 18 extensions and several lapses in program coverage, delaying or cancelling thousands of real estate transactions daily, according to NAR’s own research.
However, the flood insurance program doesn’t take in as much money as it puts out. Robinson said the NFIP is $24 billion in debt following several disastrous storms in recent years, since the costs and consequences of flooding continue to increase.
“For decades the program has made flood insurance available at subsidized rates that did not reflect the true risk of flooding; artificially low rates and discounts are no longer sustainable,” she said. A subsidized rate means a homeowner’s cost should be higher – that the government undercharges for the policy’s worth and makes up any difference with taxpayer funds.
Andy Neal, actuary, said that owners with a subsidized flood insurance rate will see their premiums increase yearly until it equals a fair market cost to cover the property. Neal said it must be done to preserve the flood insurance program by keeping it financially stable.
Most homeowners with flood insurance won’t be impacted. The majority – more than 80 percent – aren’t subsidized and already pay the full actuarial (fair market) rate. They may see routine rate increases, however.
“Only about 20 percent of NFIP policies receive subsidies – mostly older structures built before the community’s first flood insurance rate map was issued, which are known as pre-FIRM (flood insurance rate map) properties. Some of these policyholders will be impacted by the gradual phase-out of subsidized rates; an even smaller number will see immediate changes to their insurance policy rates,” said Neal.
Who pays higher flood rates?
Rate changes are likely to affect owners of subsidized pre-FIRM non-primary residences, business properties and properties that have had severe repetitive flood losses. Owners of some pre-FIRM condos and multi-family units will also see their rates gradually increase.
Owners of pre-FIRM primary residences (homesteaders) will keep their subsidies unless their policy lapses. However, they could lose their subsidy if the home suffers a severe, repeated flood loss.
A flood insurance policy could also lose its subsidy if a home is, or has been, sold since July 6, 2012, when the legislation was enacted. In that case, the new homeowner pays the full rate for flood insurance.
Some grandfathered principal residences will also lose their subsidies over several years period, but not until the communities’ flood map is revised.
Is my property subsidized?
Neal recommended that home and property owners talk to their insurance agent to determine if their property is currently being subsidized. He said flood insurance rates vary based on a property’s location, elevation and flood risk. They can be as low as a few hundred dollars or up to $10,000 or more if the property is well below flood level and has had severe repeated flood losses.
Lowering the cost of flood insurance
While higher rates may place a greater burden on families, there are investments homeowners can make to either reduce or better access their flood risk so they can continue to protect their families and possessions from floods. According to Neal, homeowners can lower their risk by elevating their property and potentially reduce their flood insurance rates.
A completed elevation certificate determines the property’s elevation relative to the base flood elevation. Elevation certificates can cost several hundred dollars to complete, but they could potentially lower homeowners’ flood insurance premiums.
Some homeowners with flood insurance policies have already received quotes for higher rates, but that could be caused by several other factors, such as changes to FEMA’s flood maps. Also, some insurance agents may adjust rates to correct previous mistakes made about the home’s features when they are re-evaluating an insurance policy at renewal.
As FEMA improves its mapping technology and draws more accurate flood maps, some homes may now be located in a flood zone, or a higher risk zone, where flood insurance is more expensive. However, some homes could be removed from flood zones.
© 2013 Florida Realtors®