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Friday, July 02 2010
Following a surge driven by the home buyer tax credit, pending home sales fell with the expiration of the deadline for qualified buyers to sign a purchase contract, according to the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS.

The Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator, dropped 30.0 percent to 77.6 based on contracts signed in May from a reading of 110.9 in April, and is 15.9 percent below May 2009 when it was 92.3. The falloff comes on the heels of three strong monthly gains as home buyers rushed to take advantage of the tax credit.

The data reflects contracts and not closings, which normally occur with a lag time of one or two months. However, many closings have been delayed recently from a rush of buyers into the system and slow processing of short sales, in addition to the heavy volume and a more thorough loan underwriting process. As many as 180,000 buyers who signed contracts by April 30 may have missed the June 30 closing deadline for the tax credit. However, Congress passed legislation yesterday to extend the deadline for delayed contracts and President Obama is expected to sign.

NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun said, "Consumers are rational and they rushed to meet the tax credit eligibility deadline in April. The sharp decline in contract signings in May is a natural result with similar low levels of sales activity anticipated in June," he said. "Surprisingly, though, some local markets such as Portland, Maine, and Jacksonville, Fla., actually experienced an increase in contract signings from a year ago without the tax credit."

Congress also reauthorized the National Flood Insurance Program. Many lenders were hesitant to approve mortgages on homes needing flood insurance without congressional action and numerous sales have been on hold. The action is retroactive to a temporary authorization that expired May 31, and also is expected to be signed by the president.

Yun noted the tax credit has broadly stabilized home prices. "Without the tax credit, there will be more aggressive price negotiations between buyers and sellers. The key test on whether the housing market can stand on its own without stimulus medicine will depend critically on private sector job creation in the second half of the year. We'll also keep a close eye on market conditions on the Gulf Coast."

Through May of this year 495,000 net private sector jobs have been created; NAR's forecast for employment growth is about 1 million additional net new jobs over the balance of the year and another 2 million in 2011.

"If jobs come back as expected, the pace of home sales should pick up later this year and reach a sustainable level of activity given very favorable affordability conditions," Yun said.

"In most areas of the country there will be no sharp snap back in home prices in the upcoming years, although some local markets have experienced double-digit gains this year," Yun said. NAR forecasts the national median home price to rise only 4 percent cumulatively over the next two years.

"One factor that could lead to price acceleration in upcoming years for some markets is if the very low levels of new-home construction were to persist for another year or two," he added.

The PHSI in the Northeast fell 31.6 percent to 67.0 in May and is 14.8 percent lower than May 2009. In the Midwest the index dropped 32.1 percent to 70.8 and is 20.2 percent below a year ago. Pending home sales in the South fell 33.3 percent to an index of 82.5, and are 14.4 percent lower than May 2009. In the West the index declined 20.9 percent to 85.3 and is 15.1 percent below a year ago.

Source: NAR
Posted by: Susie Kang AT 04:15 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, July 02 2010
The most recession-proof cities didn't see home prices surge in the first place, says the MetroMonitor, a quarterly report released by Brookings Institute's Metropolitan Policy Program.

MetroMonitor identified 21 large metro areas that have enjoyed robust economies and stable labor and housing markets in the last few years.


"Most of these cities have some general characteristics in common," says Howard Weil, author of the report and a fellow at the Metropolitan Policy Program. "They didn't experience huge housing bubbles followed by a crash, and their economies weren't rooted in the auto industry."

The top 10 stable cities identified by MetroMonitor are:

1. Albany, N.Y.
2. Augusta, Ga.
3. Austin, Texas
4. Baton Rouge, La.
5. Buffalo, N.Y.
6. Columbia, S.C.
7. Dallas
8. Des Moines, Iowa
9. El Paso, Texas
10. Honolulu

Source: CNNMoney.com, Hibah Yousuf (06/24/2010)
Posted by: Susie Kang AT 04:09 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, July 02 2010

Source: NAR

After a close brush with a deadline that could have impacted tens of thousands of home buyers, the U.S. Congress last night passed an extension of the Home buyer Tax Credit closing deadline.

The extension is included in the Home Buyer Assistance and Improvement Act (H.R. 5623) and will prevent as many as 180,000 home buyers from losing their eligibility for the tax credit through no fault of their own. These households had home purchase contracts pending as of April 30 and had until June 30 to close on their purchases to claim the federal tax credit. Under the legislation that passed last night, these households now have until September 30 to close.


The NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS supported extension of that closing deadline because buyers are experiencing delays in getting their financing closed. The delays are the result of the large number of transactions that are short sales, which can take a long time to close, and the rush of transactions lenders are processing from buyers submitting contracts before the April 30 contract deadline.

The legislation, which now goes to President Obama for signature, is designed to create a seamless extension of the closing deadline; there will be no gap between June 30 and the date the President signs the bill into law.

NAR worked closely with congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle in supporting lawmakers' passage of the legislation, which the association says will help provide additional stability to real estate markets across the nation.

Separately, the U.S. Senate also last night passed the National Flood Insurance Program Extension Act of 2010 (H.R. 5569), which extends the National Flood Insurance Program until September 30. This will allow home purchases in the 100-year floodplain to move forward. The House passed the bill last week.

When signed into law by the President, the bill, which will apply retroactively, will cover the lapse period from June 1 to the date of enactment of the extension. Without flood insurance, households buying homes in the 100-year floodplain cannot obtain mortgage financing.  


Posted by: Susie Kang AT 04:01 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email

    Susie Kang, CCIM, CIPS, CRS
    Joa Realty

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