New single-family homes sales were at a seasonally adjusted rate of 329,000 in December, based on estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The rate rose 17.5 percent between November and December, but was 7.6 percent below the December 2009 rate.
Both the homeownership rate and homeowner property vacancy rate fell in the last quarter of 2010, the U.S. Census Bureau announced in its latest Housing Vacancies and Homeownership report. The homeownership rate for the last quarter was 66.5 percent, lower than both the previous quarter and the final quarter of 2009.
Existing home sales rose in December for the fifth time in the last six months, indicating a recovery as the housing market continues to stabilize. According to the National Association of Realtors, existing homes sales jumped 12.3 percent last month, reaching a seasonally adjusted rate of 5.28 million.
Remodelers are more optimistic about 2011 as remodeling market gets stronger
Home prices continue to weaken, as eight cities hit their lowest levels since the peak in 2006 and 2007, according to the latest S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices. The data showed that in November Atlanta; Charlotte, N.C.; Detroit; Las Vegas; Miami; Portland, Ore.; Seattle; and Tampa, Fla., all dropped to levels below spring 2009 lows.
Housing starts declined in the last month of 2010, reaching their slowest pace since October 2009, new Commerce Department data show. On a positive note, building permit issuance rose 16.7 percent in December 2010, which might indicate that builders are upbeat about the upcoming spring selling season.
The National Association of Home Builders’ Housing Market Index remained steady this month at 16 for the third month in a row, indicating that home builders’ confidence is still low. Perceptions on current single-family home sales and sales expectations for the next six months remained the same as last month. Perceptions of prospective buyer traffic gained one point.
A survey of homeowners who purchased a home last year found that their primary motivations were affordability and the desire for more living space. The survey by Weichert Realtors Inc. polled 1,261 buyers who bought a home between July 1 and Dec. 31. Twenty-eight percent said their main reason for purchasing a home was “favorable financing,” double the amount in 2008.
The average size of single-family homes completed last year fell 3 percent, the National Association of Home Builders announced last week at the International Builders’ Show. The average size of homes completed in 2010 was 2,377 sf, down from a peak of 2,521 sf in 2007.
Home buying activity is on the rise to open the new year. The Mortgage Bankers Association reported that the number of applications for home mortgages crept up 2.2 percent last week. However, when the index isn’t adjusted for the New Year’s holiday, the numbers are 47.5 percent higher compared to the previous week.