March 20 (Bloomberg) — Mark Travis, chief executive officer of Intrepid Capital Corp., Ward McCarthy, chief financial economist at Jefferies Co., and Dan Wiener, chief executive officer of Adviser Investments, talk about the U.S. housing market and economy, and investment strategy.
They speak with Pimm Fox on Bloomberg Television’s “Taking Stock.” (Source: Bloomberg)
March 20 (Bloomberg) — Colin Wiel, co-founder of private-equity fund Waypoint Real Estate Group LLC, talks about his company’s strategy of investing in foreclosed homes.
Wiel speaks on Bloomberg Television’s “InBusiness With Margaret Brennan.” (Source: Bloomberg)
Sales of previously owned U.S.
houses held in February near an almost two-year high, adding to
evidence the market that triggered the recession is firming.
Purchases dropped 0.9 percent to a 4.59 million annual rate
from a revised 4.63 million pace in January that was faster than
previously estimated and the highest since May 2010, a report
from National Association of Realtors showed today in
Washington. The median price increased over the past year for
the first time since November 2010.
“The U.S. housing market is stabilizing and very gradually
carving out a recovery,” said Sal Guatieri, a senior economist
at BMO Capital Markets in Toronto, who correctly projected the
February sales rate. “Housing demand should pick up in response
to falling unemployment and attractive affordability.”
Buying a house is coming within reach for more Americans as
hiring picks up, incomes grow, property values steady and
mortgage rates hold near record lows. The report also showed the
number of houses for sale climbed in February by the most in 10
months, a reminder that foreclosures continue to loom as a
headwind for the market.
Stocks dropped, led by declines among energy companies. The
Standard Poor’s 500 Index fell 0.2 percent to 1,402.89 at the
close in New York. Treasury securities rose, sending the yield
on the benchmark 10-year note down to 2.3 percent from 2.36
percent late yesterday.
The median forecast in a Bloomberg News survey of 77
economists projected a sales pace of 4.61 million. Estimates
ranged from 4.44 million to 4.8 million. The January reading was
revised up from a previously reported 4.57 million rate.
Purchases of existing homes, tabulated when a contract
closes, climbed to 4.26 million last year from 4.19 million in
2010. Demand peaked at 7.08 million in 2005 during the housing
boom. In 2008, sales totaled 4.1 million, the least since 1995.
Even with the decline last month, January and February
sales marked the strongest start to a year since 2007.
“Business is getting better gradually,” said John
Huebner, owner of Century 21 Real Estate Professionals, a
brokerage with 210 sales agents in Orlando, Florida. “People
are moving and houses are selling, and that’s good for us.”
More people are searching for homes online, giving his
brokers more leads on sales as shoppers seek to take advantage
of low interest rates and prices, Huebner said.
“If homes are priced well and in good condition, we’re
seeing multiple offers,” he said.
The number of previously owned homes on the market rose by
100,000 to 2.43 million in February, today’s report showed. At
the current sales pace, it would take 6.4 months to sell those
houses, up from 6 months in January.
The median price climbed 0.3 percent to $156,600 from
$156,100 in February 2011. It was the biggest gain since the
year ended July 2010, reflecting a temporary boost in demand
related to the Obama administration’s homebuyer tax credit.
A measure of housing affordability climbed in January to a
record 206.1, according to the NAR’s data. A value of 100 means
that a family with the national median income has enough to
qualify for a median-priced property.
Today’s report showed purchases declined in two of four
regions, led by a 3.3 percent drop in the Northeast. Sales in
the Midwest increased 1 percent.
Distressed sales, comprised of foreclosures and short sales
in which the lender agrees to a transaction for less than the
balance of the mortgage, accounted for 34 percent of total
demand last month, little changed from January’s 35 percent.
Home foreclosures may remain a persistent concern. Filings
fell 8 percent in February, the smallest year-over-year decrease
since October 2010, as lenders began working through a backlog
of seized properties, RealtyTrac Inc. said last week.
“February’s numbers point to a gradually rising
foreclosure tide,” Brandon Moore, RealtyTrac’s chief executive
officer, said in the statement. “That should result in more
states posting annual increases in the coming months.”
Federal Reserve policy makers last week said they will
continue to swap $400 billion in short-term securities with
long-term debt to lengthen the average maturity of the central
bank’s holdings, a move dubbed Operation Twist and aimed at
holding down borrowing costs like mortgage rates.
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Article source: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-03-21/sales-of-previously-owned-u-s-homes-decreased-in-february.html