6 Key Housing Stats to Gauge the Market

Existing-home sales were back on the rise in July, marking the third consecutive month of increases, while low inventories of homes for-sale and rising prices were the reason behind first-time buyers falling to their lowest share since January, according to a new report from the National Association of REALTORS®.

“The creation of jobs added at a steady clip and the prospect of higher mortgage rates and home prices down the road is encouraging more household to buy now,” says Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. “As a result, current home owners are using their increasing housing equity toward the down payment on their next purchase.”

Here’s a look at five main indicators from NAR’s latest housing report:

1. Home prices: The median existing-home price for all housing types was $234,000 in July – 5.6 percent above a year ago. “Despite the strong growth in sales since this spring, declining affordability could begin to slowly dampen demand,” says Yun. “REALTORS® in some markets reported slower foot traffic in July in part because of low inventory and concerns about the continued rise in home prices without commensurate income gains.”

2. Housing inventories: At the end of July, the inventory of homes for-sale fell 0.4 percent to 2.24 million existing homes available for sale. The inventory now is 4.7 percent lower than a year ago and at a 4.8-month supply at the current sales pace.

3. First-time home buyers: The percentage of first-time home buyers fell for the second consecutive month, reaching 28 percent in July – the lowest share since January. Last year at this time, first-time buyers comprised 29 percent of all buyers.

“The fact that first-time buyers represented a lower share of the market compared to a year ago even though sales are considerably higher is indicative of the challenges many young adults continue to face,” says Yun. “Rising rents and flat wage growth make it difficult for many to save for a down payment, and the dearth of supply in affordable price ranges is limiting their options.”

4. Days on the market: Properties stayed on the market for an average of 42 days in July, below the 48 days average from a year ago. Forty-three percent of homes were on the market for less than a month in July. Short sales were on the market the longest at a median of 135 days while foreclosures were on the market for 49 days and non-distressed homes sold in 41 days.

5. All-cash sales: The percentage of all-cash sales rose to 23 percent of transactions in July, down from 29 percent a year ago. The share of individual investors – who account for the bulk of cash sales – was 13 percent in July, down from 16 percent a year ago.

6. Distressed sales: The percentage of foreclosures and short sales declined to the lowest share since NAR began tracking it in October 2008. Distressed sales fell 7 percent in July month-over-month and are 9 percent below a year ago. In July, 5 percent of sales comprised foreclosures while 2 percent were short sales. On average, foreclosures sold for a discount of 17 percent below market value while short sales sold for an average discount of 12 percent.

“Five years ago, distressed sales represented 33 percent of the market in July,” says Chris Polychron, NAR’s president. “For many previously distressed homeowners throughout the country, rising home values in recent years have helped recover equity and the vast improvement in several local job markets means fewer are falling behind on their mortgage payments.”

Many Owners May Underestimate Their Equity

DAILY REAL ESTATE NEWS | THURSDAY, AUGUST 06, 2015
A large number of home owners may be erroneously perceiving themselves as underwater on their mortgage, suggests a new analysis by economists at the University of California, Berkeley.

According to CoreLogic housing data, from the end of 2011 to the end of 2014, the number of underwater home owners fell from 21 percent down to 9 percent.

However, about 23 percent of home owners surveyed by Fannie Mae say they had negative equity at the end of 2014.

What’s more, by the end of 2014, only 37 percent of home owners with a mortgage in the Fannie Mae survey perceived they had more than 20 percent of home equity, but CoreLogic data showed that 69 percent had significant home equity.

Regardless of an increase in home prices after 2011, the percent of home owners who have perceived significant home equity has barely budged.

The National Association of REALTORS® recently reported that the median existing-home price for all housing types reached $236,400 in June – surpassing the median sales price set in July 2006 at the time of the housing boom.

Many home owners may not be realizing how much values have risen since 2011, economists note. By not realizing those equity gains, they may not see opportunities for selling and buying different homes and their chances of qualifying for mortgages.

“The appreciation gap presents a potential opportunity,” the authors note. “It is an opportunity to remove a barrier that may have hindered housing and mortgage market activity. … Better appreciating how much their assets have appreciated ought to strengthen home owners’ demand for housing, as well as their demands for other goods and services. Thus, in addition to the opportunity to help home owners on an individual basis, shrinking the appreciation gap presents a potential opportunity to speed up the recovery of the housing and mortgage markets, better match workers with jobs, and strengthen the economy generally.”

Source: “Are 30 Million Home Owners Underestimating Their Equity?” Real Estate Economy Watch (Aug. 4, 2015)

Banks Are Loosening Up on Jumbo Loans

As lenders try to capture more of the high-end housing market, J.P. Morgan Chase announced that it’s loosening the underwriting standards for issuing jumbo mortgages, those that exceed $417,000 in most parts of the country or $625,500 in pricier areas. The bank is lowering its minimum credit score and down payment requirements for mortgages up to $3 million.

As such, the jumbo market is getting bigger. Jumbo originations in the second quarter climbed to an eight-year high of $93 billion – a 58 percent increase from a year ago, according to Inside Mortgage Finance estimates. Jumbo mortgages issued by lenders last year accounted for about 20 percent of all first-lien mortgages, up from 5.5 percent in 2009.

“There’s no question that the jumbo market has probably recovered more than any sector of the mortgage market since the housing crisis,” says Guy Cecala, publisher of Inside Mortgage Finance.

J.P. Morgan plans to lower its minimum FICO credit scores for jumbo mortgages from 740 to 680 for loans on primary single-family purchases, second homes, and some refinances. The bank is also allowing a 15 percent down payment for loans up to $3 million. That is less than other banks such as Bank of America and PNC Financial Services Group Inc. which allow a 15 percent down payment for jumbo loans up to $1 million and $1.5 million, respectively.

The housing recovery has been strong in the higher-priced tier. Existing single-family home sales priced between $750,000 and $1 million rose 21 percent in June from a year prior, according to the National Association of REALTORS®. Meanwhile, sales of homes priced between $100,000 and $250,000 rose 12.5 percent. Homes priced lower saw sales fall 3 percent.

Source: “J.P. Morgan Loosens Terms for Jumbo Mortgages,” The Wall Street Journal (Aug. 4, 2015)

Existing-Home Sales Rise in June as Home Prices Surpass July 2006 Peak

WASHINGTON (July 22, 2015) — Existing-home sales increased in June to their highest pace in over eight years, while the cumulative effect of rising demand and limited supply helped push the national median sales price to an all-time high, according to the National Association of Realtors®. All major regions experienced sales gains in June and have now risen above year-over-year levels for six consecutive months.

Total existing-home sales1, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, increased 3.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.49 million in June from a downwardly revised 5.32 million in May. Sales are now at their highest pace since February 2007 (5.79 million), have increased year-over-year for nine consecutive months and are 9.6 percent above a year ago (5.01 million).

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says backed by June’s solid gain in closings, this year’s spring buying season has been the strongest since the downturn. “Buyers have come back in force, leading to the strongest past two months in sales since early 2007,” he said. “This wave of demand is being fueled by a year-plus of steady job growth and an improving economy that’s giving more households the financial wherewithal and incentive to buy.”

Adds Yun, “June sales were also likely propelled by the spring’s initial phase of rising mortgage rates, which usually prods some prospective buyers to buy now rather than wait until later when borrowing costs could be higher.”

The median existing-home price2 for all housing types in June was $236,400, which is 6.5 percent above June 2014 and surpasses the peak median sales price set in July 2006 ($230,400). June’s price increase also marks the 40th consecutive month of year-over-year gains.

Total housing inventory3 at the end of June inched 0.9 percent to 2.30 million existing homes available for sale, and is 0.4 percent higher than a year ago (2.29 million). Unsold inventory is at a 5.0-month supply at the current sales pace, down from 5.1 months in May.

“Limited inventory amidst strong demand continues to push home prices higher, leading to declining affordability for prospective buyers,” said Yun. “Local officials in recent years have rightly authorized permits for new apartment construction, but more needs to be done for condominiums and single-family homes.”

The percent share of first-time buyers fell to 30 percent in June from 32 percent in May, but remained at or above 30 percent for the fourth consecutive month. A year ago, first-time buyers represented 28 percent of all buyers.

According to Freddie Mac, the average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage rose in June to 3.98 from 3.84 percent in May, but remained just below 4.00 percent for the seventh straight month.

Properties typically stayed on the market for 34 days in June, down from May (40 days) and the shortest time since NAR began tracking in May 2011. Short sales were on the market the longest at a median of 129 days in June, while foreclosures sold in 39 days and non-distressed homes took 33 days. Forty-seven percent of homes sold in June were on the market for less than a month — the highest percentage since June 2013 (also 47 percent).

NAR President Chris Polychron, executive broker with 1st Choice Realty in Hot Springs, Ark., says Realtors® are reporting drastic imbalances of supply in relation to demand in many metro areas — especially in the West. “The demand for buying has really heated up this summer, leading to multiple bidders and homes selling at or above asking price4,” he said. “Furthermore, tight inventory conditions are being exacerbated by the fact that some homeowners are hesitant to sell because they’re not optimistic they’ll have adequate time to find an affordable property to move into.”

Matching the lowest share since December 2009, all-cash sales were 22 percent of transactions in June, down from 24 percent in May and 32 percent a year ago. Individual investors, who account for many cash sales, purchased 12 percent of homes in June (14 percent in May) — the lowest since August 2014 (also 12 percent) and down from 16 percent in June 2014. Sixty-six percent of investors paid cash in June.

Distressed sales5 — foreclosures and short sales — fell to 8 percent in June (matching an August 2014 low) from 10 percent in May, and are below the 11 percent share a year ago. Six percent of June sales were foreclosures and 2 percent were short sales. Foreclosures sold for an average discount of 15 percent below market value in June (unchanged from May), while short sales were discounted 18 percent (16 percent in May).

Single-family and Condo/Co-op Sales
Single-family home sales increased 2.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.84 million in June from 4.71 million in May, and are now 9.8 percent above the 4.41 million pace a year ago. The median existing single-family home price was $237,700 in June, up 6.6 percent from June 2014 and surpassing the peak median sales price set in July 2006 ($230,900).

Existing condominium and co-op sales rose 6.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 650,000 units in June from 610,000 units in May, up 8.3 percent from June 2014 (600,000 units) and the highest pace since May 2007 (680,000 units). The median existing condo price was $226,500 in June, which is 5.5 percent above a year ago and the highest since August 2007 ($229,200).

Regional Breakdown
June existing-home sales in the Northeast climbed 4.3 percent to an annual rate of 720,000, and are now 12.5 percent above a year ago. The median price in the Northeast was $281,200, which is 3.9 percent higher than June 2014.

In the Midwest, existing-home sales rose 4.7 percent to an annual rate of 1.33 million in June, and are 12.7 percent above June 2014. The median price in the Midwest was $190,000, up 7.2 percent from a year ago.

Existing-home sales in the South increased 2.3 percent to an annual rate of 2.20 million in June, and are 7.3 percent above June 2014. The median price in the South was $205,000, up 7.2 percent from a year ago.

Existing-home sales in the West rose 2.5 percent to an annual rate of 1.24 million in June, and are 8.8 percent above a year ago. The median price in the West was $328,900, which is 9.9 percent above June 2014.

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Cove Magazine Article

The picturesque coastal hills of Crystal Cove offer residents a lifestyle that harmoniously combines luxury living with nature for the residents of theses homes within this secure, gated enclave.

“You have safety of the 24 hour guard gate, a shopping center featuring world-class restaurants with-in walking distance and the close proximity to the Resort at Pelican Hill ” says Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Realtor, Aaron Valenty, “But you also have a very close proximity to the California state beaches and assurance in knowing those are never going to be developed.”

As a real estate agent who fell in love with the Crystal Cove community in its early infancy, Valenty is well acquainted with what these extraordinary and coveted Spanish style homes have to offer. After previewing the model home phase, Valenty knew he wanted to dedicate his career to the neighborhood and its development.
“Whether you are a young single professional, retired or a family, it is a very inviting community,” says Valenty, “ There are a lot of events in the community centered around kids, from their Easter egg hunt to their Halloween event.”

Available properties range from detached condos to custom homes, all nestled cozily between Crystal Cove State Beach and the El Moro Canyon Trails that separate Crystal Cove and Laguna Beach. Homeowners enjoy access to infinite open spaces and protected lands, thriving with marine and wild life.

OC Register Article

Scott MacDonald, regional vice president and managing broker for the Newport Beach office of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties, welcomes Aaron Valenty. A local small business owner with a background in the financial services industry, Valenty has been involved in real estate since 2004.

aaronHaving previously worked as a financial advisor and mortgage broker, Valenty is uniquely qualified to help his clients evaluate their options when considering a loan. Over the course of his career he has received several top sales accolades, a fact he credits to his focus on providing prompt communications and honest advice.

With a mother who was a real estate broker in Orange County, Valenty got his first exposure to the industry at a young age. “The insights and knowledge that I gained from watching my mom have proven to be invaluable,” says Valenty, who began his career as a real estate assistant for his mother.

Born and raised in Orange County with 10 years under his belt specifically in Newport Beach, Valenty has strong ties in the local neighborhoods and a vast understanding of the nuances that each have to offer. “As a native Aaron has a strong knowledge of our community. That’s the kind of strength that he brings to his clients,” acclaims MacDonald.

Outside of real estate, Valenty has opened two restaurants. “Staying active and being healthy is very important to me,” adds Valenty.

Aaron Valenty can be contacted through Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties’ Newport Beach office at 949-228-4148, or via e-mail at AaronValenty@gmail.com.