Monday, January 26, 2015

Florida Housing Market Wraps up 2014 Stable, Strong and With Higher Median Sale Prices

Florida Housing Market Wraps up 2014 Stable, Strong and With Higher Median Sale Prices


ORLANDO, FL - Florida's housing market wrapped up 2014 with more closed sales, more new listings and higher median prices compared to the year before, according to the latest housing data released by Florida Realtors. 
"In December and throughout 2014, we've seen positive signs that Florida's housing sector is on a steady, sustainable path," said 2015 Florida Realtors President Andrew Barbar, a broker with Keller Williams Realty Services in Boca Raton. "Sales are moving at a steady, moderate pace and home prices are stabilizing. Florida's economy continues to grow, more jobs are being created and mortgage interest rates remain at historically low levels, which will help drive the state's housing market forward in 2015."
December 2014
Statewide closed sales of existing single-family homes totaled 22,414 in December, up 15.8 percent compared to the year-ago figure, according to data from Florida Realtors Industry Data and Analysis department in partnership with local Realtor boards/associations. Closed sales typically occur 30 to 90 days after sales contracts are written.
New listings of single-family homes for sale last month reached 24,840, up 2.9 percent year-to-year. Meanwhile, the statewide median sales price for existing single-family homes in December was $185,000, up 6.9 percent from the previous year. December marked the 37th month in a row that statewide median sales prices for both single-family homes and townhome-condo properties rose year-over-year.
According to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR), the national median sales price for existing single-family homes in November 2014 was $206,200, up 5.6 percent from the same month a year ago. In California, the statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes in November was $445,280; in Massachusetts, it was $330,000; in Maryland, it was $250,424; and in New York, it was $227,500. The median is the midpoint; half the homes sold for more, half for less.
Looking at Florida's year-to-year comparison for sales of townhouse-condos, a total of 9,466 units sold statewide last month, up 11.3 percent compared to December 2013. Meanwhile, new listings of townhome-condos reached 12,438 last month, up 3.4 percent year-to-year. The statewide median for townhouse-condo properties was $149,000, up 8.4 percent over the previous year. NAR reported that the national median existing condo price in November 2014 was $199,000.
"The December numbers are strongly positive for both the single-family and condo markets," said Florida Realtors Chief Economist Dr. John Tuccillo. "We are seeing the steady and sustainable growth that has characterized the market the entire year continuing as the year ends. Of particular note is the inventory levels in the balanced market range: We're keeping a close eye on the lack of inventory in the lower price ranges, but by and large, the market is in very good shape."
Year-end 2014
Statewide closed sales of existing single-family homes totaled 244,543 in 2014, up 8.1 percent compared to the 2013 figure, according to data from Florida Realtors Industry Data and Analysis department in partnership with local Realtor boards/associations.
New listings for existing single-family homes rose 7.4 percent in 2014 compared to 2013. The statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes in 2014 was $178,000, up 5.3 percent from the previous year.
Looking at Florida's year-to-year comparison for sales of townhouse-condos, a total of 108,354 units sold statewide in 2014, down slightly (-1.2 percent) from 2013. The closed sales data reflected fewer short sales in 2014 compared to the previous year: Short sales for condo-townhouse properties declined 58.2 percent while short sales for single-family homes dropped 50.7 percent.
New listings for townhouse-condos for the year increased 2.2 percent compared to a year ago. The statewide median for townhouse-condo properties in 2014 was $140,000, up 9.8 percent over the previous year.
At the end of 2014 and also for December 2014, inventory for single-family homes stood at a 5.2-months' supply, while inventory for townhouse-condo properties was at a 5.9-months' supply, according to Florida Realtors.
Florida Realtors Chief Economist Dr. John Tuccillo said, "We close the books on 2014 on a very positive note. The year marks the transition of the Florida real estate market from a rapid recovery to a path of steady growth. Virtually all the metrics for the market are moving in the right direction at levels that can be sustained."

The interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.17 percent for 2014, up from the previous year's average of 3.98 percent, according to Freddie Mac.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

4 reasons buying a home in 2015 will be easier

4 reasons buying a home in 2015 will be easier

Housing economists and would-be homebuyers are finding reasons for optimism as 2015 nears. To be fair, the bar’s set pretty low after a tough year for housing.
However, there are some genuinely encouraging signs that next year will be better for prospective buyers. Economic recovery and an improving job market will go a long way to boosting affordability for buyers in many markets.
Here’s a look at four reasons why the upcoming year might be adifference-maker for would-be homebuyers.
1. Looser Mortgage Credit
After years of hyper-cautious lending, more mortgage lenders are starting to relax credit and underwriting requirements, which are also known as “overlays.”
A big push in that direction came earlier this month when new guidelines from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac took effect. These government-sponsored mortgage giants purchase about two-thirds of all new home loans.
The new policies were aimed at clearing up confusion about when lenders must buy back loans that go sour. Economists and industry insiders expect the newfound clarity will lead to broader access to mortgage credit.
“I’ve been told with absolute confidence that some lenders are lifting almost all of their overlays,” David Stevens, president of the Mortgage Bankers Association, told the Wall Street Journal.
The Urban Institute estimates more “normal” lending requirements could mean an additional 1.2 million home loans every year.
2. Lower Down Payments
Prospective buyers have another reason to high-five Fannie and Freddie: They’ve recently agreed to get behind loans with just 3 percent down. That lower benchmark, coupled with loosening credit standards, will likely help more first-time buyers enter the market.
Buyers will need at least a 620 FICO score and be on the hook for private mortgage insurance. Requirements for the 3 percent option vary between the two agencies. Depending on their path, buyers may need to complete a homebuying education program or show they haven’t recently owned a home.
“Our goal is to help additional qualified borrowers gain access to mortgages,” Andrew Bon Salle, a Fannie Mae executive vice president, said in a statement. “We are confident that these loans can be good business for lenders, safe and sound for Fannie Mae and an affordable, responsible option for qualified borrowers.”
FHA loans currently feature a 3.5 percent down payment requirement, but the accompanying mortgage insurance premiums have become increasingly expensive for many low- and middle-income borrowers. On a typical $200,000 loan, an FHA buyer might pay an extra $200 per month in mortgage insurance costs.
3. Cooling Home Prices
Some housing markets are still hotter than others. But the overall pace of housing price growth has slowed considerably. Freddie Mac’s housing price index soared 10 percent from September 2012 through September 2013.
Over the last year, the index is up just 5 percent, and Freddie Mac economists expect only a 3 percent increase for 2015.
Increases in housing inventory may also help to push down prices in some places.
4. Rates Still Low
Heading into 2014, most economists and housing wonks expected mortgage rates to top 5 percent by year’s end.
Last week, the average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage didn’t even top 4 percent, according to Freddie Mac’s weekly lender survey. The 3.89 percent average rate marked an 18-month low.
A host of economic and geopolitical factors combined to keep rates lower than anticipated this year. They’re almost certainly going to rise in 2015, maybe even into that long-predicted 5 percent range, but they’ll still remain far below historical averages.
Before you buy a home, it’s important to check your credit to get an idea of whether you’ll meet lenders’ requirements. You can check your credit reports — you can get them once a year for free, and you can also get a free credit report summary on Credit.com — to see where you stand. You can also use this calculator to see how muchhome you can afford, which can help you target your search to a price range that is right for you.

L2L : LISTINGS - TO - LEADS ...