Category Archives: Real Estate

Existing home sales increase to fastest pace

Existing home sales started out fast in 2017, reaching a recent cyclical high and increasing to the fastest pace in nearly a decade, according to the new report from theNational Association of Realtors.

Total existing home sales, completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, increased 3.3% in January to a seasonally-adjusted rate of 5.69 million. This is up from 5.51 million sales in December, and up 3.8% from last year’s 5.48 million, marking the highest rate since February 2007’s 5.79 million.

“With the exception of an unusually harsh and wintry December, existing home sales have now strongly beat expectations in four out of the past five months, as buyers took advantage of slightly better weather and slightly lower mortgage interest rates in January,” Zillow Chief Economist Svenja Gudell said.

These sales gain signals resilience among consumers even in a rising interest rate environment, according to NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun.

“Much of the country saw robust sales activity last month as strong hiring and improved consumer confidence at the end of last year appear to have sparked considerable interest in buying a home,” Yun said. “Market challenges remain, but the housing market is off to a prosperous start as homebuyers staved off inventory levels that are far from adequate and deteriorating affordability conditions.”

Home prices continue to rise for all housing types, hitting $228,900 in January. This is up 7.1% from last year and the fastest price increase since last January. It also marks the 59th consecutive month of year-over-year gains.

“While strong price gains are positive for owners of homes, and help to reduce the number of homeowners who owe more on their mortgage than the market value of their home, it is a negative for affordability.” Nationwide Chief Economist David Berson said. “We have concerns that continued supply constraints in the housing market will allow outsized house price gains again in 2017, especially hurting potential first-time homebuyers.”

But as home prices increase, housing inventory remains down 7.1% from last year’s 1.82 million, marking the 20th consecutive month of annual declines. However, inventory increased 2.4% from December to 1.69 million in January. Inventory remains at a 3.6-month supply at the current sales pace, unchanged from December.

“Competition is likely to heat up even more heading into the spring for house hunters looking for homes in the lower- and mid-market price range,” Yun said.

Game-changing Real Estate Technology Makes its Way to Dallas

Just weeks after bringing their technology to Realtors in Michigan, Remine announced its partnership with the North Texas Real Estate Information Systems to bring the game-changing technology to Dallas.

Remine will now be available to more than 30,000 Multiple-Listing Service subscribers in the Dallas area.

“Remine complements our existing MLS systems by adding a beautiful visualization of all our data,” NTREIS CEO John Holley said. “An incredible feature is their ability to reconnect with past clients, and see their propensity to sell. And then even if you’ve lost their contact info, Remine can update it.”

Realtors can search a property and see the location on a map, instead of in a list format. Remine also allows for other functions such as seeing the previous sales price, if the owner lives in the property and how long the homeowner owned a home, and therefore how much equity they could have built up.

Realtors can also see the RPI score, or the score that rates how likely the homeowner is to sell their home, Remine explained to HousingWire. The homes are given a score from one to 100, with higher scores indicating higher likelihood of the homeowner wanting to sell their home.

“Remine will be deeply integrated with the existing front end system to create a seamless experience,” Remine CEO Leo Pareja said. “We’ve designed Remine to meet the unique needs of real estate professionals; we look forward to delivering our core functionality to the community in North Texas.”

Remine also recently announced its expansion into Alaska MLS and Greater El Paso Association of Realtors.

This expansion into the Dallas and El Paso markets comes at a time when the real estate market in Texas is hotter than ever. A new report from the Texas Association of Realtors showed it was another record-setting year for Texas real estate, as home sale and home prices both hit all-time highs.

Embrace Home Loans expands into Texas

 Recent reports from the Texas Association of Realtors and Fitch Ratings call out how hot Texas real estate right now, as more homes were sold last year than ever before in Texas.

Fitch’s report notes that Dallas housing is so hot right now that it’s bordering on overheating.

Embrace Home Loans, a mortgage lender that currently has more than 80 offices and is licensed in 46 states plus Washington, D.C., said that its first Texas office will be located in Frisco, a northern suburb of Dallas.

The office will serve Dallas, Ft. Worth, and all the surrounding suburbs, the company said.

“For more than 30 years, Embrace Home Loans has been a trusted mortgage provider throughout the east coast. Because of their solid reputation, they are ideal for the Texas market,” said Billy Holloway, branch manager for Embrace Home Loans’ Frisco office.

“As the demand for home financing strengthens, we’re ready to support the lending needs of individuals and families in Frisco as well as the surrounding communities,” Holloway continued. “We look forward to not only offering a best-in-class mortgage experience for our clients, but we’re also thrilled to be a part of the Embrace team.”

Jeff McGuiness, chief sales officer at Embrace Home Loans, said that as Texas housing continues to strengthen, borrowers will need a “trusted” option for their mortgage loan.

“Adding the right talent to support those markets is essential, and we’re confident Billy and his team will be an outstanding addition to our organization,” McGuiness said. “His customer-centric approach aligns with Embrace’s commitment to provide superior service to our clients, and we believe he will not only greatly support the needs of those in Texas, but also exceed our goals for years to come.”

High-velocity housing market in Northwest

 The housing market in the Northwest continued its high-speed pace as the number of pending home sales outpaced the number of new listings, according to the latest release from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.

The report, which covers 23 counties in and around Washington state, showed that the region saw 7,745 pending home sales versus 6,507 new listings.

“Properties are moving through the market at an unusually fast pace,” said John Deely, chairman of the board at Northwest MLS and the principal managing broker at Coldwell Banker Bain.

“Although we have a high number of new listings, they are moving into a pending or sold status within the typical 30-day reporting period,” Deely said. “This phenomenon causes a low active listing count.”

Active listings in the Northwest totaled 9,752 listings, a decrease of 21% from last year’s 12,357 listings. In fact, only three counties in the area, Ferry, Jefferson and Kitsap, reported improvements in the number of active listings.

But other markets hit historic lows in housing inventory. At the end of January, there was just under 1.7 months’ supply, down from last year’s 2.5 months’ supply.

“If home buyers were hoping that January would start to bring more balance to the housing market, they’re going to be sorely disappointed,” Windermere Real EstatePresident OB Jacobi said. “The number of homes for sale remains at record lows, and the growth in pending sales tells us that sellers are still firmly in the driver’s seat.”

And the market won’t be seeing relief anytime soon.

“The real question is whether there will be relief in the near future, and the unfortunate answer is no,” said MLS director George Moorhead, designated broker at Bentley Properties, citing the combination of new jobs, a shortage of new homes, and a reluctance of sellers to list their home for fear of not being able to find their next one.

This shortage continues to push up home prices in the area with an increase of 9% in median home prices from last year’s $300,000 to $327,175 this year.

Homebuilder confidence slightly declines

 Builder confidence continued its steady decline in February, gradually falling back to a normal range, according to the National Association of Home Builders and Wells Fargo Housing Market Index.

Builder confidence in the market for newly-built single-family homes declined two points in February to a level of 65, compared to 67 at the start of the year.

“While builders remain optimistic, we are seeing the numbers settling back into a normal range,” said NAHB Chairman Granger MacDonald, a homebuilder and developer from Kerrville, Texas.

“Regulatory burdens remain a major challenge to our industry, and NAHB looks forward to working with the new Congress and administration to help alleviate some of the pressures that are holding small businesses back and making homes less affordable,” he continued.

Derived from a monthly survey that NAHB has been conducting for 30 years, the index gauges builder perceptions of current single-family home sales and sales expectations for the next six months as good, fair or poor.

The survey also asks builders to rate traffic of prospective buyers as high to very high, average or low to very low. Scores for each component are then used to calculate a seasonally adjusted index where any number over 50 indicates that more builders view conditions as good than poor.

All three HMI components fell in February. Broken up, the component gauging current sales conditions declined one point to 71, and the index charting sales expectations in the next six months registered a three-point decline to 73. The component measuring buyer traffic dropped five points to 46.

The report also broke up the data by regions and looked at the three-month moving averages for regional HMI scores. The Northeast fell two points to 50, as the Midwest rose one point to 65. The South dipped one point to 67, and the West held steady at 79 for the third month in a row.

NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz noted that due to the decline in buyer traffic in February, builders continued to struggle to minimize costs while dealing with supply side challenges such as a lack of developed lots and labor shortages.

“Despite these constraints, the overall housing market fundamentals remain strong and we expect to see continued growth this year as some of these concerns are addressed,” concluded Dietz.