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More Housing Markets Added to ‘Improving’ List

More real estate markets are showing signs of strength in its recovery, as the total number of metros on the most recent Improving Markets Index moves up to 103. That marks the largest number of metros on the list since the index’s creation one year ago.

Last month, 99 markets were on the improving market list.

The monthly index — created by the National Association of Home Builders and First American — identifies metro areas that have shown improvement in housing permits, employment, and home prices for at least six consecutive months.

“This is an encouraging sign that the housing recovery is proceeding at a steady pace as firming prices and employment help spur new building activity, which in turn generates new jobs and more home sales,” says Barry Rutenberg, NAHB chairman.

Metro areas added to the list in October include Santa Cruz, Calif.; Pocatello, Idaho; Abilene, Texas; and Savannah, Ga. Thirty-three states and the District of Columbia are represented on the October list, according to NAHB.

“The fact that most markets are maintaining their spots on the improving list from month to month is an important indication that the recovery trend is solidifying,” says NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “At the same time, overly tight credit conditions are certainly constraining consumers’ ability to purchase homes as well as builders’ ability to construct them.”

View a complete list of the metro areas making the list in October at www.nahb.org/imi.

Falling Foreclosures Mark Big Step in Recovery

Foreclosures continue to show signs of dropping across the country. In August, there were 57,000 foreclosures completed nationwide, down from 75,000 one year ago, according to CoreLogic’s National Foreclosure Report for that month .

As of August, about 1.3 million homes — or 3.2 percent of all homes with a mortgage — were in the national foreclosure inventory or in some stage of foreclosure. In August 2011, that number stood at 1.4 million.

“The continuing downward trend in foreclosures and a gradual clearing of the shadow inventory are important signals that the recovery in housing is gaining traction,” says Anand Nallathambi, CEO of CoreLogic. “The reduction in foreclosure volumes is to some degree being facilitated by the rising popularity of alternative resolution methods, such as short sales and loan modifications.”

August marked the fourth consecutive month of fewer foreclosures nationwide. Still, some housing markets are facing higher concentrations of foreclosures than others.

In particular, five states — California, Florida, Michigan, Texas, and Georgia — account for nearly half of all completed foreclosures nationwide in the past year, says Mark Fleming, CoreLogic’s chief economist.

The states with the highest percentages of foreclosure inventories are Florida (11 percent), New Jersey (6.5 percent), New York (5.2 percent), Illinois (4.8 percent), and Nevada (4.6 percent).

Meanwhile, the states boasting the lowest number of completed foreclosures in the last year are: South Dakota, District of Columbia, Hawaii, North Dakota, and Maine.

Source: CoreLogic

Mortgage Rates Reach New Record

Fixed-rate mortgages set new all-time lows for the second consecutive week, Freddie Mac reports in its weekly mortgage market survey.

“Fixed mortgage rates fell again this week to all-time record lows due to the mortgage securities purchases by the Federal Reserve and indicators of a weakening economy,” says Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac’s chief economist.

The Federal Reserve’s move recently to buy up $40 billion of mortgage-backed securities each month until the job market improves is causing mortgage rates to fall.

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages with mortgage rates for the week ending Oct. 4:

30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged a new record of 3.36 percent, with an average 0.6 point, dropping from last week’s previous record of 3.40 percent. A year ago, 30-year mortgages averaged 3.94 percent.
15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged a new record low of 2.69 percent, with an average 0.5 point, dropping from last week’s previous record, 2.73 percent. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.26 percent.
5-year adjustable-rate mortgages: averaged 2.72 percent, with an average 0.6 point, rising slightly from last week’s 2.71 percent average. Last year at this time, 5-year ARMs averaged 2.96 percent.
1-year ARMs: averaged 2.57 percent, with an average 0.4 point, dropping from last week’s 2.60 percent average. A year ago, 1-year ARMs averaged 2.95 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

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