NAR: February pending home sales up 3.5%

Pending home sales rose solidly in February to its highest level in seven months, according to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR). Led by a sizeable increase in the Midwest, all major regions except for the Northeast saw an increase in February contract activity.

The Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI), a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, rose 3.5 percent to 109.1 in February from a downwardly revised 105.4 in January and it’s 0.7 percent higher year-to-year. The index has now increased year-over-year for 18 consecutive months, though last month’s annual gain was the smallest.

“After some volatility this winter, the latest data is encouraging in that a decent number of buyers signed contracts last month, lured by mortgage rates dipping to their lowest levels in nearly a year and a modest, seasonal uptick in inventory,” says Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist.

“Looking ahead, the key for sustained momentum and more sales than last spring is a continuous stream of new listings quickly replacing what’s being scooped up by a growing pool of buyers,” Yun adds. “Without adequate supply, sales will likely plateau.”

According to Yun, last month’s noticeable slump in existing-home sales had one silver lining: Price appreciation lessened to 4.4 percent, which is still above wage growth but more favorable than the 8.1 percent annual increase in January.

“Any further moderation in prices would be a welcome development this spring, particularly in the West, where it appears a segment of would-be buyers are becoming wary of high asking prices and stiff competition,” adds Yun.

Existing-homes sales this year are forecast to be around 5.38 million, an increase of 2.4 percent from 2015. The national median existing-home price for all 2016 is expected to increase between 4 and 5 percent. In 2015, existing-home sales increased 6.3 percent and prices rose 6.8 percent.

The PHSI in the Northeast declined 0.2 percent to 94.0 in February, but it’s still 12.6 percent above a year ago. In the Midwest, the index shot up 11.4 percent to 112.6 in February, and it’s now 2.5 percent above February 2015.

Pending home sales in the South increased 2.1 percent to an index of 122.4 in February but it’s 0.4 percent lower than last February. The index in the West climbed 0.7 percent in February to 96.4, but it’s now 6.2 percent below a year ago.

Source:  FloridaRealtors/March 28, 2016.

NAHREP Report: Major Surge in Latino Homeownership

Despite tight supply conditions, home ownership among Hispanic households spiked in 2015, according to the State of Hispanic Home Ownership Report published by the Hispanic Wealth Project and the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals. This was the first increase observed since 2009.

latino_real_estateHispanic home ownership rate averaged 45.6 percent in 2015, just 0.2 percent higher than the year prior. But in just the 12 months ending December 2015, it soared from 44.5 percent to 46.7 percent — the largest one-year increase in more than a decade.

“The Hispanic home ownership numbers were very encouraging, and all leading indicators strongly suggest that the trend will continue,” says Joseph Nery, president of NAHREP. “Policy makers and the housing industry need to recognize that the face of home ownership in America has changed, and it is in everyone’s interest to ensure that these new consumers have access to relevant lending products, affordable housing stock, and culturally competent service providers in the coming years.”

It should also be mentioned, that Latinos led in workforce participation and household formation growth nationwide. This seems to indicate Hispanics to be a primary driver of overall home ownership rate the next decade and beyond.

The significance of Hispanics to housing and the economy will continue to grow, creating opportunity for all who focus on this vibrant, dynamic, and important part of the U.S. economy.

Source: National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals