The Census Department’s data on new construction sales is wildy inaccurate, housing analyst Ivy Zelman told CNBC.com last week. According to Zelman’s data, December estimates showed a 12 percent decline in seasonally adjusted new home sales, which she said was consistent with data from builders. But the Census reported an 18 percent increase.
All-cash buyers accounted for 30.9 percent of home and condominium sales in California in January, with even higher percentages in some wealthy Southern California communities. The trend is likely the result of both low home prices and an increase in foreclosures on the market.
Americans are increasingly pessimistic about the economy and the housing market according to the results of a Fannie Mae survey.
Pending home sales eased moderately in January for the second straight month, but remain 20.6 percent above the cyclical low last June, according to the National Association of Realtors. The Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator, declined 2.8 percent to 88.9 based on contracts signed in January from a downwardly revised 91.5 in December.
Sales of newly built single-family homes decreased 12.6 percent in January to a seasonally adjusted 284,000 units, according to data released by the U.S. Census Bureau and Department of Housing and Urban Development. Regionally, new-home sales fell in both the South and West, while the Northeast saw a gain of 54.5 percent.
Existing home sales rose for the third month in a row in January, rising above sales levels from one year ago, according the latest data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR).
The National Association of Realtors may have over-counted home sales as far back as 2007. According to NAR, 4.9 million homes were sold in 2010, down from 5.2 million sales in 2009. But real-estate analytics firm CoreLogic estimates that only 3.3 million homes were sold in 2010.
Nationwide housing affordability reached record levels in the last quarter of 2010, according to the latest National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index. According to the report, 73.9 percent of homes sold in the fourth quarter of last year were affordable to families earning the national median income of $64,400. This is the highest affordability level in the index’s 20-year history.
Prices for residential construction materials continue to rise as energy costs increase, according the latest Producer Price Index released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Residential building materials prices rose 4.3 percent between January 2010 and January 2011, outpacing prices for general materials.
Residential remodeling activity increased in 2010, showing gains for the 14th straight month, as many homeowners continue to choose remodeling over purchasing a new home.