MReport September 2020

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60 | M REPORT O R I G I NAT I O N S E R V I C I N G DATA G O V E R N M E N T S E C O N DA R Y M A R K E T THE LATEST DATA Pending Sales Up with 'No Sign of Slowing' Some sellers are seeing their homes go under contract in record time, with nine new contracts for every 10 new listings. C onsistency report- edly is a running theme. Pending home sales in July reflected the third consecutive month of upward contract activity, according to the National Association of Realtors. Each of the four major regions saw gains in both month-over- month and year-over-year pending home sales transactions. There was an escalation of 5.9% to 122.1 in July in the Pending Home Sales Index which, of course, is a forward-looking indicator of homes sales based on contract signings. Additionally, year-over-year contract signings spiked 15.5%. An index of 100 is equal to the level of contract activity in 2001. Broken down regionally, July pending home sales looked like this: All four regional indices recorded increases in contract activity on a month-over-month basis during the month, dur- ing which the Northeast PHSI swelled 25.2% to 112.3. From a year ago, a leap of 20.6%. Meantime, the Index parachuted 3.3% to 114.6 last month in the Midwest—that's up 15.4% from last July. In the South, pending home sales leapfrogged 0.9% to an index of 142.0 in July—rising 14.9% from last July. In the West, the index burgeoned 6.8% in July to 106.4. That's a climb of 13.2% from a year ago. "We are witnessing a true V-shaped sales recovery as homebuyers continue their strong return to the housing market," said Lawrence Yun, NAR's Chief Economist. "Home sellers are see- ing their homes go under contract in record time, with nine new contracts for every 10 new listings." Prompted by lockdown mea- sures stemming from COVID-19, prospective buyers were unable to participate in the spring buying season. As a result of pent-up demand, the market is enjoying hearty activity, with almost all states at least partially reopened. In the immediate future—in the suburbs, particularly—there are no signs that contract activity will dissipate, Yun said. In the second half, existing- home sales will leap to 5.8 mil- lion, Yun predicted. Abetted by an economy that he anticipates will grow by 4% and a low-interest-rate environment, with the 30-year mortgage rate average of 3.2%, he believes existing-home sales will hit 5.86 million in 2021. Newly pending sales were up again, with home properties rap- idly changing hands, according to Zillow's Weekly Market Report, which included the housing mar- ket data ending June 26. Meantime, there was a steady climb in the list prices for homes nationwide. Specifically, the Zillow report revealed that the median list price in the United States experiences an uptick of 0.7% from just one week prior, raising the average median price to $335,160—a price tag that is 3.2% greater than the median home price in America seen just one year ago. Housing Health Improves Despite Pandemic Persistence Low mortgage rates and declining unemployment have started to positively shift the home buying outlook. L ow mortgage rates and declining unemployment have started to positively shift the homebuying outlook. Activity could return to its early 2020 growth trajectory, researchers said. Analysts say the growth, despite COVID's persistence, "indicates underlying consumer demand." Despite the coronavirus pandemic, housing activity keeps advancing, researchers say. According to the BuildFax Housing Health Report for July, single-family housing authorizations continue to rise substantially month over month. In addition, they said, existing housing activity increased, suggesting a potential bounce back from April lows, adding that, "growth in housing activity, despite COVID-19 persistence, indicates underlying consumer demand." Housing activity has the potential to return to its early 2020 growth trajectory, said Jonathan Kanarek, Managing Director at BuildFax. "Existing housing supply has shown a dramatic bounce back. Maintenance activity, for instance, grew from double-digit declines in April to a healthy increase this month," he said. "We're still seeing some hesitance in the market, including the conflicting signals within new construction and decreases in construction spend. However, growth in new and existing housing activity signify consumers' underlying need for a larger and healthier housing stock." More specifically, BuildFax reports, in July, single-family housing authorizations increased 6.83% month over month but decreased 5.28% year over year. The month-over-month increase may be a result of builders reacting to a future rise in prospective homebuyers," the researchers note. "In recent months, historically low mortgage rates and steadily declining unemployment have started to positively shift the home buying outlook. While construction spending is still falling, it's doing so at lower rates each month." As for existing housing activity, following steep declines in April, the strain has been easing steadily, and July was no exception. Maintenance volume increased 5.60% and spend declined 0.75% year over year. Additionally, remodel volume—a subset of maintenance that includes renovations, additions, and altera- tions—increased 2.59% while spend decreased 1.59% year over year. BuildFax conducted its research by examining U.S. properties between 2013 and 2020. Their data is seasonally adjusted and imputed to reflect numbers representative of the entire country. The latest estimates, highlighted above, are as of August 8, 2020.

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