01 February 2013

Low US housing inventory dampens market

The latest nationwide housing market reports are indicating that the housing recovery is being hit by low inventory, which is resulting in a drop in sales.

Low supply is blamed for a decrease of 1% in existing home sales in December, although sales were still at the second highest level since November, 2009, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

NAR also reported that pending homes sales fell 4.34% in December, although it was 6.9% higher than December 2011.

New home sales in December fell 7.3%, but was 8.8% higher than December 2011, according to the Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Despite these numbers, total new home sales in 2012 were at the highest level seen in three years.

These results are being blamed on the inventory of homes for sale which dropped 8.5% from November and is at the lowest level since January, 2001. With inventories down 21.6% from December 2011, rise in home prices is occurring as home sellers are receiving multiple bids for their homes.

Less inventory and higher home prices may be turning the housing market around to a sellers market, which may also make it difficult for some home buyers to qualify for a mortgage. 

US housing inventory 2006 - 2012

For the week ending January 18th, loan applications rose 7.0% on a seasonally adjusted basis and 8% on an unadjusted basis, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. The Refinance Index was up 8% with refinances accounting for 82% of all applications. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index increased 3% and reached the highest level since May, 2010.

According to the most recent survey of wholesale and direct lenders done by FreeRateUpdate.com, conforming mortgage rates have remained steady over the past week.

Current 30 year fixed mortgage rates are as low as 3.125%, 15 year fixed interest rates are as low as 2.375% and 5/1 adjustable mortgage rates are as low as 2.375%. These rates require that borrowers have good credit, and qualifications are necessary for approval.

The FHA Streamline Refinance with no Cash Out is one of the best refinance deals available to homeowners. The streamline does not require an appraisal, credit history or any other documentation as long as there is no cash taken out and the current mortgage has been paid on time.

The high priced property market has been on the increase which is creating more competition in the jumbo loan market.

Increasing by .125%, jumbo 30 year fixed mortgage rates are now as low as 3.500%. Jumbo 15 year fixed rates are as low as 2.700% and jumbo 5/1 adjustable interest rates are as low as 2.125%. But borrowers must have a history of excellent credit, and substantial assets must be available for the higher down payment and additional months of reserves.

The next post on this blog will examine the housing market conditions in Southeast Florida.

Published by Realty Times, 30 January 2013, graph by Housing Tracker.

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